The Rowers Scrum Was Dominant Against the Ravens Saturday (File Photo)

The VRC Prems put on a dominant performance this past Saturday, earning a convincing 27-7 victory against the Ravens at Jericho. The Elite Division came into the game with determination, anxious to get back in the win column after two tough losses to Burnaby Lake.

Brian Derham (centre) was 2 for 4 on conversions (File Photo)

The Rowers struck first following a brief feeling out period, as Brian Durham slotted a penalty kick to open it up 3-0. The Ravens answered quickly making it 7-3 on try that threaded the defensive line and a good conversion. Following the Ravens try, the Rowers were able to sort their defensive process out, and put on a clinic for the rest of the game. While definition and positioning played an important part in the Prems’ defensive success, outstanding individual defensive efforts by George Richmond, Brian Durham, Tommy Hanson and Michael Jordan were instrumental in shutting the door. Fullback Kevin Gurniak chased down a breakaway runner to save a try in a thrilling never-say-die episode that summed up his team’s attitude.

The Rowers’ were relentless in attack, finally finding the stride they had been looking for all season. The scrum was especially sound. A front row of Keegan Watcham-Roy, Jason Carton and Nico Crawczyk capably controlled the push in offense and defense, matching technique and looking thoroughly experienced against an excellent opponent. Halfbacks Andrew Meakin and Richie Thomas orchestrated a pattern that used the forward pack to wear out defenders before having a go out wide to exploit gaps in the defense. The strong runners in the pack would prove able to make the necessary yards on their own, though. The forwards stayed ready to run strong lines off of 9 when called, and picked from the base with an impressive urgency in the instances that Meakin found himself buried in the ruck. Watcham-Roy would put in a try, as would 8thman George Richmond.
Kevin Gurniak (top left) executed the perfect chase-down tackle (file photo)

The back line ran exceptional yards, forcing the Ravens to chase them about the park and make cover tackles, eventually wearing down and frustrating the hosts. Winger Caleb Hansen ended up with two tries, and could easily have had three had play not been called for a questionable forward pass call that was followed by a dustup that drew red cards for two Ravens players and Rowers out-half Richie Thompson (who really didn’t deserve it).

Derham slotted 2 of 4 conversions to go along with his opening penalty tally. Several outstanding performances didn’t end up on the score sheet including an impassioned performance at centre back by Rory McClennan and a typically great (and quick) outing by “Greyhound” Brett Lucas. James Pond Jones was solid in the line out winning Rowers’ throw-ins and causing a decent nuisance on opponent ball.

The victory at Jericho avenged a heartbreaking 19-15 loss in what had to be the 88th minute of the season’s opening game on a Ravens’ try by a runner who everyone but the touch judge saw step into touch. The win was well received by a Rowers core who had been on the wrong end of a tough first half that felt like a continuation of a very difficult second half the year. The Rowers’ fall season included the aforementioned theft of an opening game, a difficult 30-32 loss at rival Capilanos in October, and a 20-17 loss to Burnaby Lake last weekend. In their 6 losses, the Rowers’ average margin of defeat was 10.8 points. Factoring out a 34-6 loss to Mainland Cup Finalist and Premier League leader UBC in week 2, that margin drops to 7.4 points. To a man, the Rowers are confident in their talent and their ability to work together to play winning rugby in the BC Premiership. To the team that showed up on Saturday, a mathematical improvement of 12 points per game feels like an enjoyable goal over the coming Christmas break.
The Rowers Thirds play in the Mainland Third Division Plate Final Against the Brit Lions at John Oliver Park in Delta this coming Saturday November 28th. It will be the final Rowers Game of 2015.

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