Vail looks to complete Steamboat sweep |

Vail looks to complete Steamboat sweep

Ian Cropp
Daily file photot/Bret Hartman The Vail Rugby Football Club beat Steamboat Springs, 27-23 in Vail, and then 14-12 in Breckenridge at the Ski Town Tournament earlier this year. Vail faces Steamboat again today in Steamboat.

Steve MacKinnon knows what to expect in today’s rugby match between Vail and Steamboat Springs. And it’s no surprise.The Vail player/coach has already seen his squad pull out two close wins against Steamboat in his first year with the Blue and White.”It’s going to be a forwards game, and another tight affair,” MacKinnon said.In Vail’s league opener, the Blue and White edged Steamboat 27-23, after falling behind early. The last time the two squads met, at the Ski Town Tournament in Breckenridge, there was a trip to the finals on the line. Steamboat took a 12-0 lead into the half of the 40-minute match, but Vail rallied, scoring a try midway through the second frame, and another in the final seconds. James Worrell kicked the conversion after the try, and the ref immediately blew the whistle, securing Vail’s victory.

This time, Vail has a chance to clinch the Rocky Mountain Rugby League title. With a win, the Blue and White (4-1) can end the Orange and Green’s (3-2) hopes of still vying for the crown. Aspen, although undefeated in league play, is ineligible for title contention because the Gents will not have played a complete schedule.”Steamboat is pumped up,” said scrum half Greg Tarpey. “I talked to their manager, and he said they aren’t losing on their home ground. He’s pretty confident. They’re pulling all the punches.”Back shiftVail will be without the services of Worrell and Craig Cameron in today’s match.”We’ve adjusted,” MacKinnon said. “We’ve gotten two experienced players to replace them.”

Freddy Waititi, who coached the Blue and White two years ago, will provide his wisdom and skills in the back line. “Freddy is one of the most talented players you’ll ever see,” Tarpey said. “I don’t think we’re losing anything.”MacKinnon won’t be tailoring Vail’s plan of attack with the personnel changes. “No reason why we should change game plan,” MacKinnon said. “The guys coming in are more than competent. We are gaining quite a few years (in age) as well.”And like the previous two meetings, the game will likely be won or lost in the forward pack.

Good prepThe Blue and White took a light week of training after winning their first Ski Town title in 16 years, and even won soccer scrimmage on Thursday before they handled Glenwood Springs, 29-3 on Saturday.”We’ve played well the past two weeks,” MacKinnon said.MacKinnon was also pleased with Vail’s training this week and hopes the squad can return for next week’s match against Boulder with the title locked up.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or, Colorado

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