Defiance wilts in heat to Vail |

Defiance wilts in heat to Vail

An energy-sapping sun under 100-degree heat, wilted the Defiance Rugby club’s chance of reaching today’s championship game in the Ski Town Tournament.

Their 20-7 loss to Vail on Saturday, knocked the Glenwood Springs-based team into today’s 10:30 a.m. Plate Game against the Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union team (ERRFU) for third place.

That game, along with the noon championship game featuring Aspen’s summer league team and Vail, will be played at Gates Soccer Park on the campus of Colorado Mountain College in South Glenwood.

Earlier pool play wins over Breckenridge and Steamboat gave Defiance the opportunity to reach the championship final.

Vail, also 2-0 heading into the game, had other ideas.

But, Vail never expected to get help from their opponents.

Defiance’s problems began from the opening whistle.

On the kickoff, Defiance was called offside for having men in front of the ball, according to the referee. The violation gave Vail control.

And Vail, who had routed Defiance, 46-12, in a previous match at Glenwood Park, seized the error and rammed it down the local team’s throat.

Defiance withstood Vail’s first charge on goal. But, couldn’t bail themselves out of trouble the second time around.

Vail scored off the miscue.

It was the first of bad tidings that puzzled Defiance throughout the first half.

“We were just overplaying and nervous. Vail got two quick tries and we lost our confidence,” Defiance club president Tom Sullivan said of the team’s initial problems.

After sputtering for 15 minutes, Defiance appeared to be regaining momentum. But, two strong offensive pushes were thwarted by turnovers.

Vail gobbled up the second of two Defiance fumbles for another score just before halftime for a big lead.

“We didn’t play a particularly good game,” Sullivan added. “But, you have to give Vail credit, they kept control and had a good kicking game.”

The lead widened to 20-0 in the second half before Defiance scored.

“We put Rob Hurley in the game, and we picked up a little bit,” said Sullivan. “He had an impact for us in the second half.”

ERRFU , earned its way to the Plate Game by the narrowest of margins.

They, along with Group 2 teams Park Hole, a combined team of players from Park City, Utah, and Jackson Hole, Wyo., and the Denver Harlequins, all finished Saturday’s pool play with 1-2 win-loss records.

The logjam of the standings was resolved by calculating the total points scored in games played on Saturday by each of the three clubs.

ERRFU got to advance by one point. ERRFU amassed 40 total points to the Harlequins’ 39. Park Hole finished with 33 points, eliminating them from the tournament.

Aspen rolled through its bracket.

They began with a 31-0 blanking of Park Hole, rolled to a 55-5 win over ERRFU and concluded Saturday by thrashing the Harlequins, 31-3.

Vail had just as easy a time winning the Group 1 bracket.

They downed Steamboat, 44-7, then overtook Breckenridge, 17-10, before the Defiance win.

In other pool play games played on Saturday, Breckenridge, who exited the tournament with a 1-2 record, notched its lone win against Steamboat.

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