Steamboat Rugby Club blasts Aspen, looks forward to Montana tourney next |

Steamboat Rugby Club blasts Aspen, looks forward to Montana tourney next

Steamboat Rugby Club's Nigel Hammond carries against Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in last weekend's Cow Pie Classic Rugby Tournament. Hammond and Steamboat ripped off a 42-27 road win Saturday against Aspen to clinch a home spot in the league championships.
Ben Ingersoll

— Four consecutive games on a sizzling summer day couldn’t keep the Steamboat Rugby Club off its hot streak, even against a well-rested Aspen squad playing on its home turf Saturday.

Just a week removed from reeling off four dominant wins in the 40th annual Cow Pie Classic Rugby Tournament, Steamboat traveled to Aspen last weekend and wasted little time, jumping out to a 21-0 lead in the first 25 minutes with two tries from Joe Lauber and another from Nigel Hammond with three conversions.

A talented Aspen squad was able to crawl back into things a little in the second half, cutting into Steamboat’s lead at 28-15, but the visitors were able to pull away late with another trio of scores en route to a 42-27 drubbing.

“We just hit the ground running,” Steamboat player-coach Julian Bristow said. “We sort of let them into the game a little bit. We sort of took our foot off their throat. They are a good team, and they’re able to score some points, but we were fortunate that we were able to travel deep. We always stayed ahead. Aspen was forced to play catch-up rugby all day.”

Bristow said the opportunities created through the team’s lineouts and scrums have given backs like Hammond huge lanes to score.

“Nigel is allowed to do what he does so well because the Steamboat forwards lay it out for him,” he said. “They control possessions.”

A deep roster and a well-designed schedule have been key to the team’s success this season, playing with as many as 40 players when at home and traveling to Aspen 23 deep Saturday. With its string of wins and Saturday’s big victory, Steamboat already has locked in its position as host of the Mountain League Championship in a month.

The team has a much-needed rest this weekend before heading to Missoula, Montana, for a tournament. The following weekend, Steamboat will host Glenwood Springs, then host the league championship a week later. The squad likely will face a Vail unit that was knocked out by Boulder during pool play at the Cow Pie Classic.

“Luckily, we have some time off,” Bristow said, noting he is sporting a broken arm that he hopes heals in time for the championships. “There are a lot of bruises and bumps that need rested. We’ll continue to train and work on skills and fitness without a ton of contact work.”

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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