A great effort went to waste at home Saturday as a high-impact Rowing Club offense was unable to outpace a few, poorly timed structural lapses in defense, causing the Prems to come up up short against the Meralomas.
The Rowers got on the board first as winger Ryan Brett-Williams was able to put one down in the corner while carrying tacklers in the 10th minute. 5-0 Rowers after 10 mins.
Three minutes later, rookie Rowers flanker Matt Cooke cleaned up an errant throw from the tail gunner position in the line out and was able to sneak in for a try. Joe Holland slotted the conversion to make it 12-0 Rowers after 13 minutes.
Undeterred, the Meralomas kicked a grubber past the Rowers’ backline and into the endzone, won the footrace, and kicked the conversion to make it 12-7 in the 19th minute. The Lomas pack made the best of their next opportunity, using short pick-and-go carries to move the ball in across the line and take a 12-14 lead in the 24th minute.
The Rowers strung together a series of picks from the base themselves to re-take the lead, 17-14 in the 28th minute, only to lose it again as the kicked and chased another try in the 34th minute to make it 17-21.
As time ran out in the half, with the Rowers defending near their own twenty two, a Meralomas attacker turning around to gather a pass thrown behind him ended up on the wrong end of a deadly tackle by Rowers center Doug Fraser that ignited the Rowers’ sideline ahead of half time.
Five minutes into the second half, having been awarded a scrum on their opponent’s 5 meter line, The Prems pushed the ‘Lomas pack backwards, and marched most of the distance to the goal line before the visitors pulled the scrum down and earned the Rowers a penalty try in the 45th minute to take a 24-21 lead.
The Rowers showed a lot of positional intelligence, kicking well and keeping themselves in decent field position, making the most of their set pieces. In the fifty second minute, following a seemingly effortless stroll over the ball by the Rowers’ pack just outside the 22 meter line, half back Chris Nolan was able to pick the ball, use his speed to get into space, make a defender miss, and win the foot-race to the corner flag for a try that made it 29-21 after a missed conversion.
The Lomas got it back six minutes later, working to make yards from a maul set off a line out, using short offloads in close to keep the ball moving, to score a messy try in the 58th minute, with the conversion, and get within one: 29-28 Rowing Club.
Playing with the requisite urgency, The Rowers attack did not let up. Nolan and fly half Nick Wackawitz ran the offence with intelligence, getting the ball to Holland and Fraser with space to run, but were just unable to break one open for the entire distance. The Rowers showed great discipline with the football, tending to take it to deck instead of offloading in contact, and that tended to give the Lomas defense the seconds they needed to re-set in space.
The Lomas’ strong kicking game put them in business in Rowers’ territory after winning the lineout in the 65th minute. The Lomas halfback used great misdirection to open up the blind-side and send an attacker for a ramble that might have been a try if not for a hard goal-line tackle by substitute second row forward Kelly Anderson. The Lomas set a ruck quickly and moved it inside into an empty channel to take a 29-35 lead after the conversion.
The Rowers attack was unable to use the remaining fifteen minutes to come away with any tallies, and a Lomas penalty kick in the 70th minute made the final score 29-38, thrilling the large contingent of Meralomas supporters who made the trip out to Brockton from Kitsilano, and disappointing the home crowd.
The pack had a great game, especially in the sets, and the back line had some thrilling and crowd pleasing moves to spring ball carriers, but it clearly wasn’t enough. Defensive lapses, especially late in the game, were the difference in this one. A brief chat with a disappointed Coach Seyler immediately following the loss didn’t turn up anything that we can print.
The Rowers are next in action October 5th, away against the UBCOB Ravens at Jericho Park.