A hastily assembled VRC third division full of bit players and bye week mercenaries went on the road to beat Ridge Meadows 37 – 5 this weekend, getting the absolute most out of a wet, rainy Saturday at Maple Ridge’s Garibaldi Secondary School.
The pack was lead by VRC Head Coach Chris Seyler, who was pressed into service at hooker with tape holding together both knees to fill out the roster. Seyler played the game like he missed it, vocally coaching in his boots the whole way. Coach Seyler hung between veteran VRC props Braden Maccke and Gus “The Bus” Crowe (with Dave Keenan in reserve), to front a Rowers scrum that flattened the hosts in the first set, and never let up. Some of the club’s younger and more mobile props took the opportunity to play in the loose forward positions and didn’t disappoint, defending well and pushing like a train on the Rowers’ feeds. The Thirds pushed the Ridge Meadows pack right back into the end goal off a scrum at the five meter line to score the second try.
The long grass and wet conditions caused a few handling errors, but the Rowers back line was persistent, running direct lines that challenged tackles and found the end goal early and often. The long grass and wet conditions made for a curious playing surface; a patchwork of traction that was alternately great and terrible. The irregular pitch made for a messy game in which mistakes were understandable, easy to shake off. After staking themselves to an early lead, it gave a group of Rowers who had suffered through their share of difficult rugby herartbreak an opportunity to loosen up again and enjoy their Saturday. We saw strong carries on intelligent lines by relatively new players, including Trevor Smith and the man known as Slam Dunkerton, who were clearly eager to get out there and make the most of their minutes. Tom Cummins kicked a beautiful drop goal late in the second half to the delight of his coach and teammates.
Winning felt exceptionally good, and lifted spirits among the club measurably. Even Seyler’s incessant nattering and direction (“Backup! You’re offside!”) didn’t seem too annoying with the lead. Ridge Meadows were gracious hosts and fierce competitors right through the final whistle, despite the sizable deficit, and a game that almost didn’t come together for lack of numbers ended up being the most fun we’ve had on the pitch all year.
The Thirds, Reserves and Prems are all on the road again this week at UBC in the final fixture of the first half of the season.