Premier side wins third match in a row–
By Braden Maccke
BROCKTON OVAL–The Vancouver Rowing Club claimed its third win in a row Nov. 2 when they downed the University of Victoria Vikings 18-11 in CDI Premiership action. With the victory, the VRC improves to 3-1 in league play.
In other club action, the first division side fell to UVic’s undefeated Norsemen squad 29-8, while the third division team lost to the Brit Lions ‘A’ Team, 46-17.
The Rowers started flat out of the gate after trickling to the pitch in dribs and drabs. As the game began, the forwards battled hard up front, only to see the backs make poor decisions that almost always proved costly in the wet conditions. The 3rds continually ran the ball from deep in their end, avoiding a kick and pressure game, but the team only managed to score three tries from this strategy.
In the second half, the Rowing Club over-committed to many breakdowns, thus lacking the ability to match the Brit Lions man for man in open play when possession reversed. This resulted in a futile counterattack for the squad as they were out-manned by the opposition each time they created turnover ball.
The game was “an amazing display for 75 minutes of what not to do tactically in the rain,” lamented head coach Simon Taylor after the match. “The last five minutes saw us play the rugby we are capable of and have played all season. But it was too little, too late.”
Despite a good start against a strong, well-drilled UVic Norsemen team, the VRC understudies lost a disappointing, physical match at home by a score of 29-8.
Both sides ran impact lines up the middle to take advantage of Brockton Oval’s wet conditions, but the Vikes did so more successfully than the home team. While scrummaging went generally well, the Rowers made errors at the lineouts as they failed to display their customary sharpness in the wet weather. The Norsemen took every advantage and made the Rowers pay for errors.
Penalties hurt the side and this reporter lost count of them before the first half came to a close. Martin Ericksson scored VRC’s lone try on a strong streak up the wing, and fly half James Roughan slotted the penalty kick.
It was another characteristically excellent performance from the VRC’s top side, as they beat the visitors from UVic 18-11 at Brockton. The Rowers looked both strong and hungry in the rucks, mauls, and set pieces.
Though down 8-5 early, VRC ran tireless lines, limited their penalty count, and took care of the ball with strong play from the pack. Injuries at the back row positions forced the Rowers to field some of their less experienced loose forwards. Youngsters Sam Sayler, Connor Leduc, and Quinn Cowie (holding a combined age of 60) held their own in the pack, despite the illegality of their right to imbibe south of the 49th. The back-row ruggers had some noticeably strong carries and hard tackles in key situations.
“The performance of our reserves was key to the win,” coach Jeremy Sabell noted. “The boys are really playing for each other right now. And playing from behind doesn’t seem to bother them.”
|Standings current to Nov. 15.|
Stalwart fullback Alex Ackerley and recent returnee Leduc both scored big tries. Scrumhalf Darren Harris took full advantage of two penalty kicks and replacement scrummy Henry Recinos kicked a beautiful conversion from the sidelines to seal the win.
“It was a game very much conditioned by the weather and we had to alter our game plan to accommodate that,” added Sabell. “Although our kicking wasn’t perfect by any means, UVic also struggled in that area and we seemed to come off even if not a bit ahead due to consistent pressure from our kick-chasers. UVic had some territorial advantage over us through the match, but our defense was superb apart from one key letdown where they were allowed to score on a reverse field movement. It was a Rowing Club Academy graduate, James Pitblado, who scored for UVic though, so silver lining there.”
Sabell also noted that he was pleased with his squad’s adherence to the key goals of aggressive defence, limited penalties, limited turnovers, and pressure on the kicks.
“We were able to take points out of nearly every trip into the UVic 22-metre area. It was a great team effort and I was especially pleased by how well our young backrow played.”
Bye week for all three teams.
11:30 a.m. 3rds vs. Mountain Old Boys, Playoffs: Bowl Semi-final (Brockton Oval)
1:00 p.m. 1sts vs. Burnaby Lake (Brockton Oval)
2:45 p.m. Premiers vs. Burnaby Lake (Brockton Oval)
–with files from Simon Taylor The First