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Good Start in Rocky Mountain for Colorado State

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Good Start in Rocky Mountain for Colorado State

CSU players thank their fans.

The Rocky Mountain D1A Conference got off to an interesting start with intense rivals Colorado State and Colorado replicating the weekend's football fixture.

The new-look CSU approach, now that (relatively) new Head Coach Jone Naqica has had some time to formulate his plan, was quite impressive in a 40-18 defeat of the Buffaloes.

Naqica's plan, in part, was to identify the strongest rugby players in the squad and then find a place for them in the starting 15. That has meant some positional changes. Flyhalf Sam Masterson is now at inside center. Lock Mason Kreiter is now at No. 8, and Rylan Palmer has moved to prop from hooker.

This is opened up some space for some talented freshmen, including Brock Scanlan, Elian Aguilar, and Logan Braegger. The result is an aggressive rugby team that plays fast.

Colorado took the early lead with a penalty goal, but the Rams started to show what they could do once they secured some possession. Hard running by forwards Kreiter, Palmer, and Scanlan led to Masterson having time to drop kicks on the Colorado wings with pinpoint accuracy. This put that Buffs' deep three under some pressure and eventually that produced penalties, and those penalties led to tries.

Within 20 minutes it was 24-3. Kreiter had scored two tries and Masteron one, with the center converting all three and adding a penalty.

Defensively CSU showed some speedy line speed, making it difficult for CU to get go-forward and the big forwards found themselves have to circle around to secure rucks instead of surging downhill.

As a result CU's game was spent trying to regain initiative rather than spinning it to their backs.

Colorado and CSU did trade penalties to make it 27-6 at the break.

A CU penalty on the opening kick of the second half upped the score to 30-6 after that the teams kind of rocked back-and-forth. CSU found themselves pinned on their own line and inevitably conceded a penalty and the CU forwards proceeded to pick-and-go. Finally they got that go-forward they wanted the sent it wide to score their first try. Back came the Buffs with another try and with 20 to go they were within two converted tries at 30-18.

But at this point CSU's bench lifted their response. With a good effort in the scrums and stealing some lineout ball, CSU started to regain the momentum. A ruck infringement out wide offered CSU a penalty, which was the only kick Masterson missed all afternoon. Within minutes, another stolen CU lineout led to the freshman flanker Logan Breagger weaving his way through multiple tacklers from 40 meters out. Masterson's conversion was good, 37-18 and Colorado State led 37-18.

Big runs from Masterson and Palmer kept CU on the back foot, leading to a yellow card for a high tackle. The Rams kept up the pressure and Masteron iced it with a penalty goal as time expired.

Kreiter was excellent on the day, running strong, straight, and fast up the middle, Masterson controlled field position well with his boot and was accurate from the tee. Palmer put in 80 minutes in the front row and was a force. Young flankers Scanlan and Breagger showed strong motors.

CSU travels to University of Wyoming.