Rowers dump Bruins at Telosky; 1sts take down league leaders at Battle of Wolfson–

Karl Mudzamba looks up after offloading the ball April 6 vs. UBC at
Wolfson Fields. The Rowers dumped the league-leading Thunderbirds
20-17 in first team action. Photo: Simon Jones.


By Braden Maccke
It was a soggy day April 13 as the Thirsty Thirds took on the hometown Ridge Meadows Bruins at Telosky field. The game was a must-win for the Rowers as the squad is in the thick of the playoff hunt for 2013.

The Bruins struck first, notching an early three as the two sides fought back and forth for a tiny patch of ground between the Rowers’ 22 and 10-metre lines. The early war of attrition resembled trench warfare more than rugby as both armies sent volleys of bulk at each other in incessant crashes.

Both defences held well and the Bruins, despite their inability to cross the line, held a big territorial advantage through the first 20 minutes. As the first half wore on though, the VRC’s tough D found their stride, repudiating wave after wave of Bruin onslaught. Slowly the Rowers struck a foothold in Ridge Meadows’ territory. It was inevitable that they would strike for the line, crossing twice before the end of the half to take a 14-3 lead into the break.

But like ghosts of first-halves past, the Thirsty Thirds hadn’t overcome their eternal recurrence of falling asleep for the first 10 minutes of every game – they just postponed it that day to the beginning of the second half. And, as the final frame began, the Rowers found themselves on the back foot.

Ridge Meadows took advantage, scoring a quick try under the posts from a complex penalty play. Then the squad stormed right back after the kick off to squeak an unconverted try over the line in the corner. After 10 minutes of second half play, the Thirsty Thirds were down 15-14.

The thirds stabilized their D from that point and the forwards managed to prevent the Bruins’ front eight from gaining any significant yards. The squad also turned over a lot of Ridge Meadows’ possession in the late second half.

Near the end of the game, after some intensive forward-attack running, successive pick-and-goes paid off as the Bruins gave up a penalty in their end. Liam “Golden Pony” Carter converted the mistake from about 22-metres out, giving the VRC a 17-15 lead. The Thirties held from there and kept their playoff chances alive with a well-deserved win.


APRIL 6 – 3RDS vs. UBC

The Thirsty Thirds channelled their eternal recurrence April 6, as they opened their match with UBC by giving up two early tries to start the game.

After settling in, the two squads battled back and forth. Momentum swings produced try after try in a high scoring match that, at times, looked like it could top 100 points.

The O’Gorman Übermensch delivered punishing run after punishing run for the Rowers’ forward pack as he toppled young ruggers like nascent animals. Channelling an intense will to power, O’Gorman carried the ball over the line for a power try that put the Rowers back in the contest after they’d fallen behind again.

After a continiual back-and-forth, it seemd to be anyone’s game until a miscommunication between Si D’Agrosa and Simon Taylor I. During the crossed-up interlude, UBC managed to punch in a try and their late momentum sealed the game. Final score: 41-37, UBC.

Kevin Gurniak outpaces a UBC defender en route to a 20-17 win.
Photo: Simon Jones.

APRIL 6 – 2NDS vs. UBC

The Rowing Club second team looked flat in the opening half against the UBC seconds team. Their ball retention was poor, their defense was mediocre, and the Super Twos did not exhibit the kind of quick lines and break-away speed that we are used to seeing from them.

Newly arrived English prop Jeff Craine was sidelined with a concussion early in the first half, altering the Rowers’ personnel for set pieces and forcing adjustments. Despite a lackluster effort, the second div squad only trailed 12-5 at the half.

UBC’s better fitness became apparent in the second half as they made good use of a dry pitch, carrying the ball into open space and making the Rowers defense look beyond inadequate. As the final whistle tolled, head coach Jeremy Sabell and his charges were aching to forget the 43-5 scoreline.


APRIL 6 – 1STS vs. UBC

The first division team started their match against UBC with aggressive play that they continued to build on throughout the match. UBC had a well-trained, fit, first team and looked very good from the outset. Their persistent, strong attack wore down the Rowing Club defense and UBC managed to score two converted tries.

Jon Mergui takes the ball into contact versus UBC April 6.

But giant utility-Irishman Sean Dignan, playing at second row that afternoon, kept the Rowers in the game after scoring a first half try. The Rowers went into the half trailing by nine points, 14-5.

The VRC Ones found an extra measure of what coach Sabell described as “will” in the second frame, as the tired side won battle after battle at the breakdown.

Missing their own starting fly half due to injury, regular nine, Henry Recinos excelled at the first receiver position, scoring a try and slotting a key penalty kick. Filling in for Recinos at the scrumhalf position, club veteran Duncan James did a formidable job running a quick offense. James also punched in a try of his own.

At full time, the VRC salvaged an otherwise miserable Club day as the First Team walked off the field with a hard-fought, and well-earned, 20-17 victory over the league leaders.

April 20

All three squads face the Surrey Beavers at Stanley Park’s Brockton Oval. The first game kicks off at 11:30.

Next week, April 27, the VRC hosts “Family Day” at the Oval. Watch Ruck Muck for details.

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