Spring 2004 Matches

March 6, vs. 43rd State Crimson Lions, in Boise, Idaho

The Missoula All-Maggots kicked-off their Spring Season in Boise, ID over the weekend with a 38-0 trouncing of the 43rd State Crimson Lions. Missoula led 24-0 at halftime from trys scored by Rich Sonderman, Chris Houck, Bill Merrill, and Lee Palmer.

The Maggots scored two more trys in the 2nd half w/ Brian Taulbee and Jamie Dougherty each dotting down. Brian Taulbee was named Man-of-the-Match for the Maggots. He scored a try and was 4 of 4 kicking conversions. Taulbee played all eighty minutes and was instrumental on defense as well as offense. Sonderman and Taulbee snuffed the only Lion scoring opportunity late in the game with a crushing tackle on a Lion ball-carrier who had advanced all the way down to the Maggot 5-meter line. The tackle resulted in a Lion turn-over which Missoula promptly cleared to the other end of the field.

March 27, vs. WSU Cougars, in Pullman, Washington

The Missoula All-Maggot Rugby Club (3-1) suffered their first loss of the season this past weekend against a tough Washington State Cougars team 34-22. The Cougars, who are play-off bound in the collegiate national tournament next weekend, will face UC-Davis .

WSU quickly put the Maggots in a hole by scoring three first half trys and a drop-goal. Missoula finally got on the board with a Dave Morrison try, just before halftime. Brian Taulbee converted the kick and WSU was on top 22-7 at the half. The Maggots woke up in the second half scoring two trys (one converted) and a drop-goal off Taulbee's foot. The Cougars scored twice in the second stanza, but only converted one.

Scott Miller and Lee Palmer both had solid games for Missoula. Miller, a rookie, has solidified himself at a wing position with good speed and athleticism. Palmer's ferocious tackling from his flanker spot has helped an already solid Maggot defense this season.

April 4, Spokane Fool's Fest

Spokane put on a grand tournament this year with great weather and great Rugby. MRU teams that made the trek included U. of Montana, the Maggots, Bozeman, Billings, and Butte/Helena.

Saturday started off with some exciting rugby as all the MRU teams faired well. The Jesters won both games soundly and made it to the big game Sunday despite not having a collegiate bracket this year. The Betterside also had a good showing winning their matches and having a big night at the party. Helena/Butte played some solid rugby and represented the social scene as always, but the big story was Spokane's win over Billings in the afternoon game Saturday.

Spokane came out a bit flat as Billings scored and converted quickly on a Shannon Harper pick-off of an errant pass. It looked as though the script would be the same as years past as Billings mounted pressure and recycled ball with ease. However, Spokane was not going to lie down despite the early deficit. The Razorbacks hammered back with the solid pack play they've become known for and added a few nice line-breaks into the mix with their fly half and centers finding gaps in the Bulls defense.

Spokane scored an unconverted Try, as did Billings to leave the halftime score at 12-5 Bulls. The second half was arguably the most exciting rugby of the tourney as Spokane began to tackle with ferocity and recycle ball to an eager back line. The Razorbacks kicked two penalties and scored 2 more converted Trys to push the tally to 25-12. Billings was not dead though as they pushed one across and inched closer at 25-17. Spokane closed the scoring late with one more try with gusto to finish off the Bulls for the first time since entering the league in 1998.

On Sunday, the Grand Final saw two old rivals pitted against one another in the first of what will be most likely, three meetings this season. Bozeman and the Maggots squared-off after a night of carousing and drinking at the tourney sponsored party at Fat Tuesday's. Bozeman reached the final with solid wins against 43rd State Crimson Lions and Bud Bay, WA. The Cutthroats easily dispatched both teams with a renewed sense of urgency and a very deep 32-man roster on the weekend. The Maggots took an equally easy route into the final as well, knocking off Tri-Cities, WA 49-0 and Trail, BC 22-0. The final would be anything but easy for both clubs.

The pace was fast and furious from the onset, even with the soft Polo pitches playing host to the action. Missoula scored straight away but couldn't convert to take a 5-0 lead. Bozeman hit back with the first of many penalty kicks, keeping pace at 5-3. The score stayed the same going into halftime with both teams mounting pressure but neither capitalizing. The second half saw an equally brutal display of hard tackling and even harder rucking from both sides. However, it was Bozeman who looked the more relaxed of the two squads. Cutthroat Center Bart Huber sliced the Maggot defense several times nearly scoring on one occasion. Bozeman played in Missoula's 22 most of the second half. Shawn Marsh and Dick Jeske took one-offs at pace and kept the Maggot forwards off balance while setting up good ball for Juice and the rest of the Bozeman backs. The Maggot defense was very commendable as the Men in Black repelled wave after wave of the Bozeman attack. The Cutthroats were forced to settle for 2 more penalty kicks to take a 9-5 lead late. Missoula mounted a serious assault down to the Bozeman five-meter line on two separate occasions, but squandered the opportunity with more penalties and poor execution. Bozeman promptly cleared and went the other way scoring and converting right on full-time to save a 16-5 decision. Bozeman was the better team on the day and felt some redemption with their first victory over Missoula since the same exact game in 2002 when they bested the Maggots in overtime to win that championship.

April 10, vs. Flathead Moose (no shows)

The Maggots picked up their first league win the easy way taking a forfeit from Kalispell. The Maggots used that time for a quick field and shed clean up, followed by a friendly tip tourney with a few Bettersiders.

April 17, vs. Spokane Razorbacks, at home

Spokane only needed 30 seconds to score as Razorback Hooker, Rich Nay, took a one-off at pace and rumbled 20 meters to dot down off of a stolen Maggot scrum ball. The kick, however, missed. A huge wake-up call like that was all the Maggots needed as they reeled off 3 straight Trys to answer Spokane. The first came when Missoula found a heavy overload in Spokane's end of the field. Rookie Winger, Scott Miller touched down between the posts after some good play in the loose by Missoula. Brian Taulbee pushed the conversion over and the Men in Black had their first lead of the game. They wouldn't look back the rest of the day. Moments later, Missoula Flanker Lee Palmer, charged down a Gary Owen attempt and sped the other way from mid-field. He dished off to Rich Sonderman who finished the movement. Blake Meyers missed the ensuing kick and Missoula led 12-5. Spokane answered with some good phase play and found space out wide for another unconverted try. But Lee Palmer again took things into his own hands finding space in the Razorback line to dart 20 meters and score just before half. Again, the Maggots could not convert, but Brian Taulbee coolly slotted a long penalty kick at the whistle to give the Maggots a 20-10 halftime cushion. After the half, the next 30 minutes of the fray were played at mid-field with neither team being able to capitalize. Spokane was able to pinch quite a bit of Maggot ball, but only turned it back over with handling errors. Spokane mounted a serious charge late in the game with a beautiful hands-out try to the winger, who cut back and scored under the posts from nearly thirty meters out. The conversion was easily converted, and Spokane found new life with 10 minutes remaining trailing only 20-17.

The Maggots were able to respond and Spokane never saw the Maggot 22-meter line again. The Maggots mounted heavy pressure and recycled ball in Razorback territory consistently. Spokane conceded a penalty and Blake Meyers took full advantage with a tough kick to push the score to 23-17. The Maggots electrified a tense crowd with only five minutes remaining as Maggot #8; Ty Ketterling made a huge break just after the restart. Ketterling found a gap between the Spokane fly half/center as Taulbee put him away to rumble to nearly mid-field from the Maggot 22. Ketterling put Maggot Skipper-Bill Merrill into space with a beautiful pass and Merrill headed south drawing in the last Razorback defender before dishing to the younger Palmer brother, Brian. Brian Palmer sprinted the last 20 meters with 2 Razorbacks on his heels to finish the 80-meter movement in the corner. The kick missed, but gave Missoula the cushion they needed to take a restart, recycle a few phases and clear. Full time sounded and both teams headed for the pub for a welcome beer and relief from the pouring Montana rain that dominated most of the second half.

May 8-9, Montana Rugby Union Championships, at Spokane

The Bozeman Cutthroats did what they've done all year long: Play hard and find a way to win. The Cutthroats managed a come-from-behind victory over the Maggots of Missoula 20-17 on Sunday at the MRU Cup Tournament in Spokane. The Barnburner wasn't done until the final whistle, providing an intense and entertaining grand final for all who attended. The Maggots swapped columns with Bozeman in the B-side final earlier and retained that Trophy with a convincing win.

Bozeman made it through to the final after taking a forfeit from no-show Kalispell in the quarterfinals, and then narrowly defeating host, Spokane Razorbacks 12-0 in a tough semifinal match. Bozeman looked sharp and poised all weekend despite being tabbed as the favorites. Missoula came through to the finals in quite a bit different fashion. The Maggots dispatched Helena 50-5 with a second XV squad in the quarters, then put down a gritty Billings Bulls side 27-14 in the Semifinals. That set up a third match between Missoula and Bozeman this season. Bozeman had taken the previous two games by scores of 14-5 in the Fools Fest Final and a 31-5 drubbing in a league crossover match in Bozeman mid-season.

Missoula, who was seeded #4, had been plagued by injuries and player unavailability all season long. The Maggots, however, found a core group and began to build towards the cup with new players stepping up to the challenge and filling in. Missoula traveled to Spokane with 36 players, providing depth in an impressive season ending run that saw wins over Pasadena, Michigan, Williams Lake B.C. and Billings.

The final on Sunday started out very fast, but was played primarily between the 22's. Bozeman opted to have the wind in their face the first half. The wind, playing a major role both days, helped the Maggots get out of the gate early. Maggot Full-back Blake Meyers missed his first attempt at a penalty goal, but nailed his second to give Missoula an early 3-0 lead about 20 minutes in. With time waning, Bozeman found space out wide and finished a beautiful hands-out movement to dot down (but not convert) in the corner to go up 5-3. Bozeman had recycled and handled the ball fairly well despite the wind in the first half. The Maggots took little time resetting and hammered back inside the Bozeman twenty-two when Missoula's Andy Snowden took a penalty tap to score in the corner. Blake Meyers converted and Missoula took a narrow 10-5 lead into the break.

The second Act in the fray will be memorable for both sides for quite some time. Fifteen minutes in, Bozeman was able to capitalize on sustained pressure and get into the try-zone for an unconverted score. The 10-10 score would ride for another fifteen minutes until Missoula conceited a penalty close in. The Cutthroats hard running and utilization of the wind paid off as Juice pushed a long kick over to regain the Bozeman lead at 13-10. The Maggots began to tire a bit and Bozeman began to smell the blood in the water. Again the Cutthroats capitalized on a bit of poor tackling from Missoula and pushed through the middle for a ten-meter try. Juice's kick was true and the Cutty's felt some breathing room with a 20-10 lead.

Nine minutes remained after the Bozeman Try when Missoula dug in for a final push to get home. It took only two minutes for Missoula to score despite the winds. Line-breaks for big chunks of yardage came first from Brian Taulbee, then Blake Meyers on some good movements through the back line. Bozeman looked uneasy and unwilling to tackle late in the game. Missoula Skipper Bill Merrill took a one-off after Meyers' break and found space between the centers for a twenty-meter rumble to the Try line. Merrill was held up only meters short, but the Maggot support was there and set-up an additional phase that found rookie Matt Clark milling around the breakdown for a Try. Clark pounced on a loose ball in the Bozeman goal before two Cutthroat defenders could get there, giving him his third try of the weekend. Meyers converted and Missoula was in business only trailing 20-17 with four minutes to go.

The restart was taken and Missoula again found space and a new hope as they pushed into Bozeman territory to earn a penalty. But the Maggots squandered the opportunity and Bozeman finally regained possession. The Bozeman fly half promptly cleared with the wind all the way to the other end. Missoula again was able to rally, and pushed down into Bozeman territory. This time, Bozeman conceited a penalty 35-meters out with under a minute. A tough decision had to be made, however, stiff winds detoured the Maggots from taking a tying shot at goal with so little time left. Missoula opted for a kick to touch and an ensuing lineout with less than a minute. The Maggots made one last ditch effort inside the twenty-two as time was expiring. At the lineout, the referee cautioned the next stoppage was it, so the Maggots kept everything in play and pounded down to the Bozeman 5-meter line with furious pick-and-drives. Bozeman held settled and became resolute on defense. Bozeman coolly forced a knock-on with a final line break from Missoula's Blake Meyers. Meyers found space and headed for what would surely be the game winner. Bozeman swarmed Meyers only meters out and forced the knock-on with a well-executed gang-tackle.

The whistle sounded and Bozeman, on the bubble three times over the last eight years, regained the MRU Cup. The first Cup win for Bozeman since 1996, was well deserved and a testament to the players in the Gallatin Valley. Many of them remember narrow Cup losses in '98 to Billings (3-5) and to Missoula in '02 (13-15).

Other winners on the weekend saw the All-Maggots best Bozeman in the B-side Cup to win that prize for the third straight season. The U. of Montana Jesters downed Helena to take the Plate back to Missoula.

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