The Denver Barbarians traveled to Seattle on Saturday for the last of their Elite Cup regular season matches. On a day filled with rain, thunderstorms, and unusually cold temperatures, the Barbarians offensive froze up, as Old Puget Sound Beach (OPSB) rolled to a 39 to 14 victory. The victory gives OPSB a one point advantage in the Elite Cup standings securing them a place in the Semi Final in two weeks against undefeated San Francisco Golden Gate (SFGG). SFGG also won on Saturday with an impressive victory over the Glendale Raptors by a score of 43 to 10.
With the losses by the Barbarians and Glendale, the two Denver Elite Cup teams finish third and fourth respectively in the West Conference. The two losses knock both teams out of the inaugural season competition.
The Barbarians started slow against OPSB in the first half and resulted in OPSB scoring three tries to Denver’s one. Along with Denver’s solo try scored by second row Jon Poynter, Maximo hit two penalty kicks and a drop goal to add nine more points to the first half score. Denver struggled to find their pattern as OPSB disrupted their flow with game slowing techniques and effective kicking. The thunderstorm-filled first half ended with OPSB out in front and Denver wondering where their offense had gone.
The second half started out with OPSB on their toes attacking the Barbarians and attaining their fourth try and the more important bonus point. The four try bonus point ended up being enough to top the Barbarians in the tables putting OPSB in second place headed for the semis. The second half continued as the Barbarians fought for field position and made their final attempts to get within seven points and earn the one point they needed to stay in the hunt for the semis. But as time elapsed and OPSB kept the pressure on with strategic kicks and unwavering ball control, the Elite Cup season ended for the Barbarians with a score of OPSB 39, Denver Barbarians 14.
Despite the disappointing loss and the chance to play in the Elite Cup semifinals in two weeks, there were several bright spots for the Barbarians as they head into league playoffs. Josh “Yoshi” Masek was the Man of the Match with his powerful runs, crushing defense, and never say die attitude. Josh carried the ball several times without a spill as OPSB player’s struggled to take him down. Other bright spots for the Barbos was the play of rookies Brendan Shea and Landon Peterson at the flanker positions, with Logan holding down the number eight position. Equally impressive and important for the Barbos was the play from the reserves off the bench including Tim Miler slotting in at hooker, Vince Warner at prop, and senior veteran Adam Drury at the flank for Peterson. All of the reserves did their job and that included Matt Lancaster in for Staab, Liston Ogana in at the wing for Garrity, and Brandyn Jones in at prop for the Man of the Match, Yoshi.
Last but not least, rookie sensation and “speedy” wonder man Antwun Baker made his A-Side debut when he came on for winger Jay Plven shorty into the second half. Although this was his first A-Side match and the first match where he did not score multiple times, all of the signs are there that this Barbarian will be “the one” to watch in the coming seasons.
With the 2013 Elite Cup over for the Barbarians, they will now turn their focus solely to the Emirates Airline USA Rugby DI National Championships. The Barbarians finish their DI season this Tuesday evening in Boulder when they travel to play the long awaited and postponed match that could give them a chance to finish second in the “new” West Conference (previously known as the ERRFU).
With a win versus Boulder and a bonus point, the Barbarians can finish number two in the West and would play the first place team (Provo) on Saturday April 20th (in Glendale) for the number one seed in the DI top 32 seeding’s. If the Barbos fail to attain the one point bonus for four tries against Boulder, the team will finish third in the West. Finishing third in the West will see them play Kansas City on Saturday. If the Barbos beat KC on Saturday, they will then play the loser between number one seed Provo and number two seed Glendale on Sunday. The winner of that match will be the second seed in the Nationals with the loser receiving the third seed in the Nationals.
With more rugby to play, the 2013 season is not over for the Barbarians. As a matter of fact, one could say that the season is just now beginning as they keep redemption in mind for the eventual match with number one Provo.