The Denver Barbarians won the final West Qualifier Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver, Colo. They went 5-0 on the day, beating the Kansas City Blues 34-14 in the championship game.
With the win, the Barbos become West 7s champs, having also won the first series event in Houston. They will take the West’s first seed to Nationals, and the Kansas City Blues, who won their own qualifier earlier in July, take the second seed.
It’s the first time since 2000 that the Blues have qualified, while Denver has now reached Nationals 12 times in a row and 19 times in the last 27 years.
The Barbos and the Blues qualified for Nationals with wins in the semifinal rounds, Denver 26-12 over Glendale and Kansas City 33-15 over The Woodlands Exiles. The Blues were lights out in the semis, jumping out to a 21-5 halftime lead. They were anchored in the match by two scores from both Kenny Scott and Drew Haig.
Tied 7-7 at halftime, the Denver’s semifinal was much more competitive. The Barbos turned the game on its head and took a two-score lead in the second half when Justin Pauga threw an errant pass into his own try zone to no one. The Barbos jumped on it for the try, to go up 21-7.
In the final, Kyle Hitt opened with a try in the corner after the Barbos swung the ball wide off of an attacking scrum inside the Blues’ 22. The difficult conversion was missed, leaving the score at 5-0.
The Blues rebutted in the fifth minute after turning Maximo DeAchaval over following a penalty deep in the Kansas City defensive end. Conner Smith made the break on the wing, and Scott finished off the possession by dotting down. The conversion was successful, putting the Blues up 7-5.
Taylor Howden responded on the very next possession, slicing through the heart of the Kansas City defense while evading a few near tackles to regain the lead for Denver. With the conversion made, the Barbos led 12-7.
Denver extended that lead just before halftime after Kansas City’s Connor McDonough was pinged for an illegal tackle near his defending 22. The Barbos scored directly off of the penalty play, but missed the conversion, making it 17-5 at intermission.
The Barbarians sealed the deal with a try in the fourth minute of the second half when Hunter Leland, who started the attack with a line break, sailed the ball over an offside Blues defender, and it landed in the hands of Logan Collins, who ran in a try to put the Barbos up 24-7.
Kevin Schwartze pulled the Blues back within two scores shortly thereafter, but Hitt nullified it immediately with his second try, making it 29-14 in favor of Denver with just over two minutes to play. The Barbos managed one more try in garbage time.