Murphy’s three leads Vail over Breckenridge
Welcome to Vail, James Murphy.The Vail RFC back’s timing was impeccable as the English import rang up a hat trick in the Blue and White’s 34-10 win over a very competitive Breckenridge squad on a soggy Vail Athletic Field Saturday.”Not a bad debut for a rookie,” quipped Vail player/coach Greg Tarpey.”It was pretty good. I was pleased with that,” Murphy said. “I wasn’t expecting to score a hat trick. What are you going to do?”
Vail had to do something to avoid losing to its Shrine Pass rival for the first time since 1997. The Blue and White slammed the Goose, 52-7, at Kingdom Park last month, but Saturday’s rematch was a completely different story. This was a 10-10 game 20 minutes into the second half with Breckenridge controlling most of the possession. “For 60 minutes, (we) were toe-to-toe with them,” Breck coach Peter Shafroth said. “It was a ball game. Unfortunately, I think we ran out of steam in the last 20 (minutes). Vail was a little bit fitter. “When Vail played us last time, we out-rucked Vail, but they just slaughtered us in the backs. We, in the last month, have improved defensively big time. Every time they got the ball, they didn’t score on us. I think that was the biggest key in the first half.”Vail took an early lead on Murphy’s first try and a conversion from Tom Taylor-Davies. Breckenridge’s Jake White and Taylor-Davies traded penalty kicks, giving Vail a 10-3 lead. As the first half progressed, the Goose’s pack was increasingly dominating the play. That bore fruit early in the second half when Zach Zellars fed John Wood for a try. White converted to tie it at 10, and the Breck side was smelling an upset.
“In the first half, our scrum was very strong,” Shafroth said. “We took some ball from them and that gave us more possession. I’d have to say our set pieces were greatly improved. Except for the last 15 minutes, we really shut their backs down after they ran through us in the first game.””Missing (prop) Will (Mansour) was big,” Tarpey said. “We definitely lost his presence out there and our lineouts we’re abominable. It was just elementary stuff. Our kickoffs were bad. I’m glad we pulled it together in the end. I thought our backs played a better game. We got schooled against Aspen (two weeks ago). We played better.”Vail avoided the upset with a late surge starting with Murphy’s second on a nifty feed from Taylor-Davies. With eight minutes to go, Tarpey slid in and Taylor-Davies booted it through for a 22-10 lead for the hosts.On Vail’s next score, there was a bit of comedy. Cameron Turner passed it to Tarpey, who was about to get clobbered by a host of Breck defenders. Tarpey blindly passed it to his right. As it turned out, Taylor-Davies was right there to scoop it up and touch down.
“Self-preservation pass,” Tarpey joked. “The team’s coming onto me, I just throw it to the back line. Can anyone catch it, please? I picked the gap. Twenty-five years of rugby, I just knew the gap was there.”Yeah, right.Murphy rounded it out with his third try of the game as Vail moved to 5-2 on the season. The Goose fell to 3-6, but took a lot away from Saturday’s game.”We’ve just been building,” Shafroth said. “We started the year not doing too well, and each week we’ve made massive improvements. I think everyone’s going to walk away today feeling that we can keep on getting better.”Lineouts: Breckenridge last beat Vail in 1997 by a count of 31-12. … The Goose host Glenwood Springs Saturday at 1 p.m. at Kingdom Park, while Vail will be entertaining Steamboat at 3 p.m. … The two teams will likely meet again at the Mountain 15’s in Breckenridge Aug. 21-22. … International scores: New Zealand 16, Australia 7 and South Africa 38, Pacific Islanders 24. “England played the School for the Blind – and probably lost,” Tarpey joked.