Aspen claims Ski Town title |

Aspen claims Ski Town title

Preston Utley/Vail Daily Vail's Brandon McDonald tackles an Aspen player during the title game of the Ski Town Rugby Tournament Sunday. Vail lost the game, 35-15

VAIL – Make a mistake against the Aspen Rugby Football Club and you will pay.Vail has known this rule for years and fell victim to it again in Sunday’s Ski Town Tournament final, bowing, 35-15.”We like to move the ball, but I think Vail played very well and very tough in the first half,” Aspen head coach Mark Williams said. “We just wanted to take them through a couple of phases, and we thought if we do that, then the gaps would open up and that’s what it did. It was a little scrappy in the second half. All credit to Vail, they played us tough.”We’re very glad we came down. Vail ran an excellent tournament. We had a great field and we’re just happy we came down.”Aspen ran out to a 21-3 lead midway through the first half at the Vail Athletic Field and added two tries from John Grobbler to regain the Ski Town title after a one-year hiatus.

“I think certainly in the first half, we were in the match,” Vail coach Steph Blair said. “The problem with the boys is missed tackles. If you miss tackles against this team, they support very well and they hang you in the finish. “That was the problem. We tried to keep up front against them and that was working. But we missed a couple of tackles in the first half and they got a couple scores and it was uphill after that.”‘Loose tries’Aspen’s Nick Lane trotted in off a lineout and Kent Currie converted, giving the Gents an early 7-0 lead. When Aspen was whistled for offsides 30 meters from its goal line, the Vail Old Boys, started yelling “Points, points.” Vail’s Brian Dalrymple obliged, splitting the uprights for three.Gents fullback Travis Anderson responded with a score, as did scrum half Jock McGregor. With Currie eventually going 5-for-5 on conversions, Aspen had built a comfortable 21-3 margin.

Vail did strike back before the half ended, building a drive which tested the discipline of the Gentlemen. Aspen did not pass the test, committing a string of fouls which brought the Blue and White to the doorstep.Greg Ridl fed Tom Vallentine for the try and Dalrymple came through on a difficult conversion, pulling Vail to within 21-10 at the half.”I don’t think we ever let up,” Vail’s Paul Howard said. “I think the tacklers were definitely good the whole game. A couple of loose tries early hurt us, but I think we made a game of it. I think it was our best game all year, so there’s a lot to take away from it.”

Hanging toughThough Grobbler’s two dashed Vail’s hopes for a Ski Town title on its home pitch, the Blue and White did give its partisans something for which to cheer in the second half. Driving toward the end of the pitch where the faithful were camped, Vail punched in a try late, courtesy of Howard.”Actually, it was a bad pass by me that Greg (Tarpey) cleaned up well,” he said. “He had a good drive. I just happened to be right there to pick the ball up off his drive. I just turned and dove for the try line.””The guys deserved that try at the end,” Blair said. “They worked really hard to get it, to put it together. It was just deserved after what we put into the match. The score sometimes doesn’t reflect how the team sticks in, but Aspen is a very good side. The Vail guys have to be very proud of themselves. They put up a good fight.”They certainly did compared to the rest of the field this weekend. Aspen crushed Breckenridge, 56-0, and spanked Glenwood, 64-0, to get to Sunday’s finals. Vail will get another crack at the Gents Aug. 13 when Aspen comes calling for its regular fixture at the Vail Athletic Field.

In the meantime, the Blue and White (6-2) heads to Steamboat Saturday to resume Mountain League play.Breakdown ballsCurrie was sent to the sin bin for crushing Vail’s Sean Meehan well after the Vail Mountain School alum had booted the ball away late in the first half. … Glenwood defeated Santa Fe, N.M., 29-10 for third place. Missoula, Mont., slammed Steamboat, 41-5, for fifth. Breck finished seventh. … Congratulations to Vail’s Scott Marino and Ronnie Harris for putting together this year’s Ski Town Tournament. Breckenridge hosts next year and the tournament moves to Steamboat in 2007. … The “ageless and venerable,” at least according to himself, Phil Bennett said he’s played in his last Ski Town for Vail Sunday. We’ll believe it when we see it. Naturally, Bennett again got his picture in today’s paper, setting a new Vail Daily record. … International score: South Africa downed Australia, 33-20, in Mandela Cup action. … The Vail RFC’s sponsors are the Tap Room, National Velvet, Pilsner Urquell, Primary Colors Painting, Conundrum Technologies and Finnegan’s Wake.Chris Freud is the sports editor of the Vail Daily. He can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or, Colorado

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