The Rowers third division won in dramatic fashion, slotting a long penalty in the last minute to beat the Squamish Axemen at Brockton 15-12.
It was a physical game from the very start, as both teams went out of their way to run hard and get the most out of contact. The referee kept the whistle in his pocket, giving these physical teams an opportunity to keep some rhythm, and they didn’t disappoint. Squamish drew first blood in the fourth minute, using hard runs inside to create space on the wing, then exploiting that space with a hard run, followed by an offload in contact and a corner try. A missed conversion had the Rowers down 5-0 early.
But the Thirds weren’t giving up that easily. New 2nd row forward Kyle Katerenchuk set the tone in the seventh minute with a punishing positive tackle that put the Axemen attack on the back foot, and gave the red and white a chance to nail down their shape. With the ball in hand at the 16th minute, back row forward Justin Lalli had a big carry to set up a lineout win for the Rowers at the opposition 5 meter line. The pack set a maul, and pounded away until Lendl “G-Man” Magsipoc was able to find the end goal and put one down to tie it at 5-5 in the 18th minute.

Big Ben Johnson carries the ball as Donald Campbell follows in support. The Rowers 3rds forward pack turned in a solid performance Saturday v. Squamish.

Attacking from the re-start, the other 3rds 2nd row forward Donald Campbell (he of the Campbell clan) was able to create some space with a beautiful pass back inside to a charging teammate who put the Rowers in business again at the opposition 22. More hard charging pack play backed the Axemen up against their own posts. Having earned an overlap on the near side, Halfback Darren “Dazzler” Harris spun it wide to the backs who attacked through the hands the width of the field to find a back row forward who the blog was unable to identify (must be new) charging in to the corner to put the ball down and put the Rowers ahead. 10-5 in the 24th minute.
Undaunted, Squamish was able to move their attack in past the Rowers 30 in the 36th minute. The Rowers were handling their phase attack until the Squamish halfback sneaked past a post defender for what would have been a sure try if he wasn’t dropped in the open field by new arrival “Tacklin'” Tom Hymas. The Axemen pounded away at the goal line for a few more phases, eventually scoring a go-ahead try and adding the conversion to make it 12-10… but it was a heroic tackle just the same.
“Tacklin” Tom Hyams had a big try-saving tackle against the Axemen on Saturday.

With no time left in the first half, Harris the Halfback made good on an opportunity to kick for points to put the Rowers ahead before the halftime whistle in what would end up being a foreshadowing of a dramatic ending for the Thirds.
The only adjustment Coach Chris Seyler asked for from his team in the half time huddle was for lower body position in contact. He also noted that the well-coached Axemen’s low-tackling style left them vulnerable to offload play in attack.
But as the game wore on, neither team found the space or speed to be able to run an open attack. It was straight ahead smash-mouth rugby the whole rest of the way, as both teams played possession rugby, trying to close out a close game.
New Centre Taurean Sheehan, coming off of a strong game last week in the Reserves against Westshore, had several strong carries to keep the Rowers momentum, while also playing solid defense.
The Rowers defended their own end for what felt like 10 minutes, finally turning the ball over on their own 3 and kicking it out at the 56th minute. They threatened to take the lead in the 65th minute, but were again unable to create clean ball for the halfback out of the scrum, finally turning it over and being sent back by a Squamish boot.
Taurean  Sheehan has turned in big performances in his first 2 games as a Rower.

With both teams having their attack frustrated by never-say-die defense, the Rowers found themselves in the same 2 point deficit after the 2nd forty minutes that they were in after the first forty minutes. With no time left on the clock, the Rowers were awarded a penalty mark at the opposition 37 meter line, about 15 meters off center. With a strong, low line drive of an end-over-end kick, “Dazzler” Darren Harris put it over the cross-bar to seal the deal for the Rowers 3rds, 16-15.
The win puts the Rowers in a points tie with the Squamish Axemen atop the BC Rugby Mainland Third Division. The teams also have identical 4-1 records. The BC Rugby standings had yet to be officially updated at press time, so it is unclear who is considered the league leader at present. The Axemen have a higher point differential.
The Thirds are in action next week against arch rival Capilanos at Brockton.
With additional reporting by Kelly Anderson.
Photos by Kelly Egilsson.
 
The kick is up….

…and it’s good! Thirds Win! Thirds Win!

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