Denver Barbarians staked their claim to the top in WRFU’s D I North division with a comprehensive 51-8 victory over in-town rivals Denver Highlanders Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
The bonus-point win means Barbos are knotted with Glendale Raptors for first place, a circumstance which should be sorted after next week’s sure-to-be-frightful showdown between the league leaders at Infinity Stadium.
An evident linkage advantage in the outside backs both on offense and in counterattack enabled Barbos to control gameflow, exploiting territorial kicking gains well and finishing sweeping backline movements with precision.
A Jody Kramer try, its conversion by Max De Achaval, and a further penalty slot by De Achaval saw the visitors ripping along at a point-a-minute clip in the first ten as Highlanders struggled in closing gaps.
Highlanders got onboard with a Leif Gibson penalty that was countered by one from De Achaval and it was 13-3 with fifteen gone. Action settled between the 22s with each standoff questioning aerially, and the back threes replying with competence aided and abetted by staunch forward maneuverings about the loose until Air Force Academy recruit John Feely turned the corner along touch, stepped inside a defender, and scooted 25 yards into goal for an 18-3 Barbos lead at 27 minutes.
The Barbarians cover and counter play began to click and kept Highlanders on the back foot as University of Northern Colorado product Kyle Hitt was received of a ticket into space which he employed to outpace pursuit to dot down a De Achaval-converted goal at 33 minutes for a scoreline of 25-3.
The travelers (but not far!) picked up their bonus point try when Hitt was brought to ground short of goal and offloaded to scrumhalf Taylor Howden for thecross-and-dot. De Achaval’s conversion made it 32-3 as the break whistle sounded.
The second half was punctuated by the issuance of a trio of yellow cards, two for repetitive infracting split between the sides and one for chirping, but Kramer dotted a brace for his hat and Howden tried again. With the addition a fine finish by Highlanders prop Chris Gustafson at the conclusion of a ripping 40 meter scamper by lock Tom Rogers in the 78th minute, this one went into the books as Denver Barbarians 51, Denver Highlanders 8.
Next up for Barbarians will be a tussle for the top of the table at Glendale, 6pm on October 29, while Highlanders travel to Kansas City for a scare with the Blues on the Saturday.
Denver Highlanders 8 (3)
Tries: C. Gustafson
Denver Barbarians 51 (32)
Tries: Kramer (3), Feely, Hitt, Howden (2)
Convs: De Achaval (5)
Pens: De Achaval (3)
Referee: P. Winkelbauer