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The Denver All-Stars captured their second consecutive Serevi RugbyTown 7s held in Glendale, Colo. this weekend. The Denver side beat out a strong international field in route to a Cup victory and a ten thousand dollar cash prize.
The All Stars were one of the favorites coming in thanks to a deep and experienced roster. Fresh off an Olympic debut, Ben Pinkelman led the way for the All Stars. Fellow Eagle Martin Iosefo and a number of talented club players joined Pinkelman. Gannon Moore of Kansas City and Max De Achaval, Kevon Williams and Jeremy Misaleagu of Denver made the squad formidable all weekend.
The three-day tournament divided the teams into four pools of five teams each. Each team played four pool matches with the first three coming on Friday night. Pool play finished up on Saturday with Army winning an all Armed Forces group A, the SoCal Griffins winning pool B, the British Army claiming pool C and the Ramblin Jesters taking home pool D.
Both Glendale and Denver took out first seeds in the quarterfinals, the British Army and the Griffins respectively. The Jesters and Tiger Rugby both took care of business in the quarters as well, setting up the semifinal matchups of Tiger Rugby versus Glendale and the Ramblin Jesters versus Denver.
Denver eliminated the Jesters in a close contest 19-12 and the Raptors defeated Tiger Rugby 17-5. This resulted in an all Colorado final and the hosts squaring off for the cash prize.
Denver recovered its opening kickoff and spun the ball right. Glendale was pinged for not rolling away and the Denver side sent the ball left. Ben Pinkelman stepped inside a defender, spun through a tackle and reached for the line for the first score of the game.
The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds and resulted in a Denver line out. After a couple of phases Max De Achaval put a perfect kick in behind the Raptor defense and Pinkelman ran onto the ball in the try zone. De Achaval nailed the sideline conversion for a 14-0 lead.
Denver notched its third of the game after a pretty set of passes in minute six. Martin Iosefo found an oncoming teammate with a one handed offload and after another pass, Gannon Moore sprinted in for a 19-0 lead.
Glendale finally got going after the third score. The Raptors found a hole in the defense and worked their way down field. After several penalties, Dewon Reed powered to the posts. He appeared to score but the referee awarded a penalty try for a high tackle and issued a yellow card to Denver.
The Raptors should have gotten their second right at halftime but let two golden opportunities go to waste. With the man advantage, the Raptors sent a kick wide right to a wide-open player but the ball was dropped right on the five-meter line. The play was called back for a penalty, and after the tap, Reed knocked the ball on.
Denver got the all-important first try of the second half. After some back and forth play, Iosefo found De Achaval with a looping pass down the right sideline. The Argentinean found Iosefo back inside and the Eagle sprinted into the right side of the try zone for a 24-7 lead.
Glendale responded with five minutes to play via Life University product Cody Melphy. The Raptors broke through the line down the right sideline off of a scrum and Melphy worked hard in support. The speedster dotted down in the corner to make the deficit 12.
Reed made things really interesting with three minutes to play. Conor Cook made a great play to chase down Iosefo down the right sideline. After an offside penalty, Reed found a gap through the center of the defense. With the conversion it was a five-point game.
Denver responded immediately, however, stemming any chance of a miraculous comeback. Michael Al Jiboori found a gap and offloaded to De Achaval. He found Moore with a perfect pass and the Kansas City club player sprinted 60 meters for the score and a two try advantage.
Glendale refused to quit and scored a try with under a minute left to play. Rudi Kama sprinted nearly the entire length of the field but missed the conversion. With only a kickoff remaining, Denver led 31-26.
Iosefo fielded the kickoff and slipped out of a tackle. The American International ran into touch and Denver won its second consecutive Serevi Rugbytown 7s and a ten thousand dollar cash prize.