In the summer of 2021, the Denver Waterdogs made the trip up to Steamboat Springs to take part in the historic Cowpie Classic. However, the boys fell just short in the final against a strong and disciplined Boulder RFC side. "I've been salivating at the thought of another chance for about a year now," Waterdog Captain Estevan 'SteveO' Florez said during the week of practices prior to the 2022 Cowpie Classic. Drawing pool play games at 8:00 am and 12:30 pm, the Dawgs knew a long day of rugby was ahead of them and apparently decided to sleep in more than they should. With some communication mix-ups and most of the team getting to the field 10 minutes before kick-off, it was to be a baptism by fire against the tournament hosts for the opening game of the day. Preparation is key and unfortunately, our lack of it resulted in a tournament-opening loss to a valiant Steamboat Springs side. The silver lining was that there was plenty of time for a mental regroup prior to the last pool play game of the day against the Northern Colorado Flamingos. With a much-needed mid-day break, the Dawgs came out of the gate flying against the Flamingos. It was swift, it was decisive, and it put the purple and gold into the elimination rounds as the 3rd seed where they would face Boulder RFC in the cup semi-finals. Boulder proved to be an entirely different beast. Echoing their success of last year, they were clinical in their first half and put the Dawgs down 12-0 going into halftime. However, one Waterdog, or more aptly a Water-greyhound, decided 2022 would not repeat 2021. Wing Tanner Akers changed the tide with an intercept try and the regathering of a loose ball that was run in for a try to catapult the Dawgs back into this game. Through the stoic leadership of Mose Timoteo - someone who had been in plenty of high-stress games before, the Dawgs executed a couple of tight scoring opportunities and maintained mountains of defensive discipline to steal the game from last year's champions. For the second time in two years, the Dawgs would have a shot at a steaming pile of cow shit. Refusing to learn from their slow semi-final start, the Dawgs found themselves down 15-0 against a hard-carrying University of Wyoming Alumnus team 10 minutes into the final. The Cowboys were quick and unmerciful and the game was looking to appear just out of the grasp of the Dawgs' paws. With just 5 minutes before halftime, lightning struck and then it struck again. Alu Taito and Scott Nies each punched in a try and with both conversions sailing through the uprights, the Dawgs were down just 1 point with 20 minutes left to play before a champion was crowned. Coach Chobot reeled in the fired-up Dawgs to remind them that cool heads, executing the pattern, and no 50/50 offloads would be the key to getting this job done. And while it may not be this club's most consistent attribute, the Dawgs were obedient and did precisely what Coach asked. Working the ball wide was the key to the second half and DeVaughn Markell, with just two months of rugby under his belt, sliced and diced the Wyoming fullback to run in a beautiful try to put the Dawgs ahead. Never looking back, the purple and gold kept their lead for the rest of the game and punched in a try from our most forward-looking back, Clint Cooke, as time expired to seal the victory. The Dawgs took the illustrious Cowpie trophy with a stunning 33-25 victory against a bruising Wyoming side. Huge thank you as always to Steamboat RFC for putting on one of the best weekends of the year!
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