The 2011 Rugby Super League season kicked off on Saturday March 12, with 2010 Super League finalists San Francisco Golden Gate traveling to Dallas to take on the Harlequins, while League newcomers Utah Warriors made the trip to Denver to take on the Barbarians.
In Dallas, temperatures were in the mid 70s, but a strong wind played a role in the game. The opening twenty minutes were relatively even, with the home side benefiting from the wind and leading by a score of 12 – 10. Quins Charles Davidson and Kaleb West notched scores for the home side. However Golden Gate soon hit their stride, running in a few tries before the break to take a 30-12 half-time lead. In the second half, there was a lot of one way traffic as SFGG took control of the game. Powerful forward play and excellent off-loading kept the pace of the game up, and caused many problems for the young home side. Samu Manoa and Daniel La Prevotte were impressive in leading the charge up front, and Volney Rouse effectively directed the traffic from the outhalf spot.
Over in Denver, the Utah Warriors got their inaugural RSL campaign off to a winning start, getting past the Barbarians 38 – 21. Denver kept the Warriors under pressure in the first half, starving the Warriors of possession and forcing numerous penalties. Several of these were within the kicking range of Denver’s Max De Achaval who paced his team to an early lead. Scores on either side of the half allowed the Warriors to take some control of the scoreboard. In the second half, Utah managed to get more organized, according to Utah’s John Law. The Warriors became more structured, played a tighter game, reduced the number of handling errors and started to edge the possession battle, leading to opportunities for Mike Palefau to exploit. Denver’s Jason Kelly will note the opportunities for improvement in some aspects of his team’s defensive play, though he did point to the play of De Achaval and prop Josh Masek as promising signs.
The victory over a solid Denver side was an impressive showing for the Warriors, who will entertain the Dallas Harlequins next week in their home opener. Denver will travel to Old Puget Sound, while San Francisco Golden Gate has the week off.