The Rowers Prems came out on top of a hard-fought battle on the road against cross town rivals Meralomas Saturday, winning a close one 14-10.
On a busy fall day at Connaught Park, the Rowers set the tone with physical play early on. Both teams defended well, limiting carries of any distance both ways. The Rowers were the first to score, putting a strong push behind a scrum at the five yard line, allowing Colin “The Swamp Monster” Cooper to pick and score from the 8th man position in the thirteenth minute. The conversion made it 7-0.
The Lomas would answer fourteen minutes lager, using phases to push the Rowers back inside their own 22 before finally getting it to one of their stronger runners on the outside, who broke a couple of Rowers tackle attempts before finding the end goal. They added the convert to tie it at 7-7 in the 27th minute, and would kick a penalty in the 30th minute for a 10-7 lead that they would take in to the half.
The Rowers came out of the halftime determined. The coaching staff had identified weaknesses in the Meralomas, and were pleased to see the attack start to exploit those weaknesses. But mistakes and penalties kept any of of those exploits from paying off. Both teams played strong, strategic rugby for the entire second half, and were able to keep each other off the board until the very end.
The Prems pack played at a very high standard all game, especially in the front row, where Morgan Smith, James Kelly and Robert Spearing all turned in exceptional performances both in and out of the scrum. The game continued to be one of tight, physical rugby; a purist’s dream. VRC Director of Rugby Operations Jeremy Sabell would later euphorically described it as “a trench battle.”
With time winding down, substitute VRC flanker Kelly Anderson, fresh off of a few very aggressive positive tackles peeling off of a strong Rowers set piece (and an EPIC Fleetwood Mac concert earlier in the week) broke a tackle for a long carry into Lomas territory and put the Rowers attack in business inside the opponents’ ten.
But the Lomas weren’t ready to roll over. They held off direct lines by the pack for what seemed like a full ten minutes, including a goal line run by Jason Carton that seemed sure to break the line. Once the mounting pressure sucked Lomas defenders in tight, the Rowers spun it quickly through the back line to put super sub winger and VRC vet Dave Anderson in a foot race on the outside to score the winning try with his young family cheering him on from the sidelines. 14-10 Rowers at full time.
After the game, Coach Seyler credited strong play in the front row and on-field leadership of captain Micheal Jordan with keeping the Rowers in a very difficult and physical game, while also calculating the points left off the board via Rowers mistakes at 20. This reporter recognized typically dynamic games from flanker Quinn Cowie and 2nd row Brandon Kaye, especially in defense.
The victory makes the Rowing Club the 2018 winners of the Porter Cup, named for longtime Rower Jim Porter, who had strong ties to the Meralomas, where his son Duncan played.
The Rowers Premier Reserves and 3rd Division also played fixtures against the Lomas, losing 25-12 and 38-5 respectively.
The Rowers Christmas Party is December 8th. We’ll update with ticket info when available.