The VRC Rugby Premier side lost a close one at home Saturday, falling to the Castaway Wanderers 25-28 following a controversial last minute try by the visitors.
Castaway opened the scoring in the first minute on a wet day at Brockton, springing a winger in space outside, and nailing the conversion to stake themselves to an early 7-0 lead. Undaunted, standout VRC winger Ryan Brett Williams found some space of his own almost immediately, carving up the CW defense and putting one in right under the posts in a highlight-reel try to tie the game with only three minutes gone.
The sides quickly started playing rugby more befitting of the fourth game of the day on a wet, choppy pitch, keeping it in the packs for short phases. They traded penalty kicks to extend the tie into the 28th minute; 10-10.
The Rowers lost 2nd row forward George Richmond to a yellow card in the 30th minute for a shoulder charge (no attempt to wrap), and the visitors were able to take advantage. They set up a drive off of a lineout in close and found the mud behind the line. The conversion made it 17-10, and CW would take that lead into half time.
The teams traded pens again early in the half to make it 20-13, and the Rowers continued strong phase play to put themselves in position at their opponent’s 22, where scrum half Chis Nolan picked from the base, sold the post defender on a beautiful dummy pass, and blew through the gap to put one down under the posts and tie the game at 20-20 in the 49th minute.
After some back and fourth play consisting of a great deal of tactical kicking, The Rowers took the lead in the 69th minute working a lineout maul in close until hooker and team captain Jason Carton touched one down to make it 25-20.
The visitors converted on a penalty kick opportunity in the 73rd minute to narrow the gap to 25-23 before disaster struck.
With phase play in their own end thoroughly frustrated by the Rowers defense, the Wanderers spun it wide and were able to spring a back in space. The Rowers defense caught up with the runner near the 22, forcing an offload that the support runner took to the house, to the immediate protest of all Rowers in the vicinity and the entire home sideline, all of whom had made the offload for a blatant forward pass.
The referee, a noted fan of this blog, didn’t see it that way. The 80th minute try stood to give the visitors a 28-25 victory.
After the game, Coach Seyler was disappointed with the outcome, but proud of his squad. “The Rowers played excellently. Great D, especially on the goal line. Payed their hearts out. Technical errors from the ref in the last minute gave Castaway the chance they needed to pull ahead.”
The Prems have a bye next week.
All Photographs by Joscelyn Wallace. Check out our November 16 Home Games gallery for more.