The VRC First Division defeated Abbotsford in a first round home playoff game this past Saturday by a score of 32-24, securing a spot in the Lower Mainland Semi Finals.
Eight Man and new father Colin “Swamp Monster” Cooper scored two tries in the win and recorded at least six tackles (are records are suspect), to lead the Rowers to a difficult victory that both players and coaches can be proud of.
It Was Hard Going Early
The Firsts were down by 3 after 3 minutes after Abby hit a penalty, but the Rowers came right back to score a try and make it 5-3. They then traded successful penalty kicks with the visitors in the seventeenth minute to make it 8-6. This was the type of physical game that one might expect from two very fit teams.
The Rowers defence remained strong, but a precise Abby kicking game gained an 8-9 lead at 28′, then an 8-12 lead at 33′. Centreback Brian Derham kicked the Rowers a penalty of their own at the 39th minute to make it 11-12, and another just before half time to give the Rowers a 16-12 lead.
1st Div Sticks To The Plan, Prevails
The Rowers came out firing after the half, earning a try at the 58th minute off of a patient attack focused on controlling possession through strong support. VRC Head Coach Ian Cooper stressed the importance of phase play all week. Coach Coop’s message that the Rowers Firsts’ dynamic backs’ tendency for good long runs off of line breaks don’t matter if they end in turnovers got through to his team, as disciplined phase play allowed them to play most of the rugby and keep their lead through the final whistle.
Irish Mafia Capo Conor Cleary was all over my sheet with six recorded tackles, and Nelson, BC Native Quinn Cowie had a characteristically strong game scoring one try, at least three tackles (but most likely many more) and creating a key turnover. Scoresheet hog Kevin Gurniak (whose postgame whereabouts could not be confirmed, but were rumoured to be sunny and fun) also created a turnover, likely accounted for the most yards of anyone in red and white, and made several key tackles in the process.
Fullback Nick Wackwitz also found the end goal for a try in the 32-14 victory.
The Rowers Pack were able to steal lineouts at the 22nd and 31st minutes, but could well have stolen a few more as well, our records are incomplete.
The Rowers Firsts play the winner of today’s Surrey Beavers vs. Port Alberni Black Sheep Game. The result of the Surrey/Alberni game was not known at press time.
ALL PHOTOS BY ABBY DOUCET