Thursday, May 24, 2018

Denver Barbarians Advance To DII Final

By Brendan Shea

Day 1 in Fort Worth saw hot and windy conditions as the Denver Barbarians faced the Eastside Tsunami (for the first time in both clubs' history). The game started slow with many handling errors on both sides. The Tsunami played hard-running rugby to start, but had a mental lapse early and was penalized a red card for striking a player off the ball. Denver began to use the ball wide and find gaps in the Tsunami back line leading to two first half tries under the posts. But the Tsunami struck back before the half with a pair of scores, and it was knotted at the half with the Barbos leading 14-12.

The second half saw six unanswered tried for the Denver Barbarians as their back line continued to display their athleticism and speed. Eric Sykes Jr. had a brace of tries, and the defense held against the persistent and continuous phase play by the Tsunami. There was one passage of play in the second half where the Tsunami attack went 25 consecutive phases before putting ball to deck. This game had large amounts of physicality, but it was Denver's speed that held the day.

Take the jump to read more.
Denver Barbarians - 48
Eastside Tsunami - 12

Tries:

Denver: Michael Al-Jiboori, Eric Meyers, Brendan Shea, Evan Geist, Estevan Crispin, Shane Milek and Eric Sykes Jr (x2)

Eastside Tsunami: (Box score N/A)

On Day 2, the rain poured in Fort Worth throughout most of the morning, making for a muddy field with high humidity levels. When the Denver Barbarians and San Diego Old Aztecs took the field at 1:30pm for the D2 Western Final, the sun had come back out adding intense heat to an already humid atmosphere. The Old Aztecs defeated San Antonio the previous day in a high scoring match featuring impressive back play and pace.

San Diego got on the front foot early, scoring two converted tries through their strong running forward pack. San Diego's Malaetasi Toilolo ran some powerful, prop-style running lines and gave the Barbo pack fits in the first 20 minutes. Denver needed a gut check before the end of the first half and got it with a trio of full length tries. However San Diego chipped into space and regained the lead after collecting the high ball and dotting down before the half making the score 19-17 going into the final 40 minutes.

But it was all Denver in the second half as the Barbarians rolled in 7 second half tries as the team continued to utilize their speed and fitness to move the ball into open space and allow their play makers to capitalize. Team veteran and leader Michael Pisney commented on the weekend in Fort Worth.

"We traveled to the Texas knowing that we had signed up for a fight. We also knew that we the tools in the shed to handle just about anything thrown at us. The boys have been working hard on maintaining not just physical stamina, but mental stamina as well. When the Tsunami and Old Aztecs scored on us, we kept it together, regrouped, and utilized our cohesion to ride the wave and overcome these adversities."

He elaborated on the club's growth during the 2018 season.

"Over the past several years, the club has been working on enhancing a culture that breeds success through hard work, dedication, and commitment to the club. The vibe around the Barbarian horde at the moment is excellent, the boys are playing for the man next to them, not for themselves. I have never been more proud to be a Barbarian and I am looking forward to leaving everything on the field with my brothers on June 3rd in front of the entire Barbo family."

Denver Barbarians - 60
San Diego Old Aztecs - 24

Tries:

Denver - Evan Geist, Carmine Hernandez, Brendan Shea, Gabe Bram, Shane Milek, Chuck Ajarrista, Michael Al-Jiboori (x2), Eric Sykes Jr., Eric Bloedorn

San Diego - William Dow (x2), Malaetasi Toilolo, James Niblock

The Denver Barbarians host the Detroit Tradesman in the D2 club final at Infinity Park on June 3rd.

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