The Rowers Thirds are BACK!

A side full of familiar faces tapped all the talent in their muscle memory to earn a victory for the VRC Third Division at Brockton Saturday, besting the Ridge Meadows Bruins 37-12.

The Rowers got started early, getting it quickly to the back line after winning a set piece at the 5 meter line and feeding it to VRC veteran Dave Andersen, who cut once to freeze the defender, found the space and made it count. 5-0 Rowers in the fifth minute.

Perhaps looking to make the most of the stamina they had in the early minutes, VRC forward pack legend Mathew “Coxy” Cox got the offense going again with a signature ball poach from a poorly guarded ruck, giving scrum half Darren “The Dazzler” Harris occasion to pick from the base, draw the defense and get it to winger Jack O’Sullivan with one man to beat. “Jack-O”, in his first game back following months lost to injury, made a cut to give himself some room, then made it a foot race to the corner and won it to make it 10-0 to the thrill of the home sideline.

Cox’s temporary return to the Rowing Club (on loan from wherever he’s not playing in Bend, OR, we’re not going to look it up), brought out a strong contingent of former VRC staples whose experience allowed them to integrate seamlessly with the more regular names, and gave the Thirds some much welcomed bench depth.

Dazzler was able to score another try only minutes later on a quick tap off a penalty, widening the Third Div’s lead to 15-0. Moments later, Dazzler’s subterfuge was good enough to fool his own teammates, as he announced on a Rowers penalty at the 22 meter line that “we’re kicking for touch,” then immediately tapped and ran away from a stunned (and winded) forward pack. The Bruins were able to turn the ball over at the goal line on the second phase and kick for position, but Daz was dangerously close to making it work.

Dazzler contemplates kicking for touch…
…decides against it.

Rowers regular Michael “The Cookie Monster” Cooke used his stamina and a hard nosed run at the goal line on the next Rowers attack to make it 20-0 Rowers, and the rout was on.

Despite having not played together as a unit, this Thirds team had enough experience together in higher divisions to put together effective set pieces, and were especially dominating in the lineouts. Rowers tour legend Jon Mergui, on loan from the St. George’s Rugby Coaching Staff was especially effective as a jumper, and in open play. Mergui sold a dummy switch late in the first half to create some space for former Rowers Prems standout back liner Alex Ackerly, who turned on the jets and found the end goal to make it 25-0.

Ackerly looks for the offload after a 20 meter run.

Ackerly was at least the second fittest of the returning Rowers (about a step behind George Richmond), and is offering a special discount on personal training to Rowers Ruck Muck readers through nexusfit.ca. Just tell him Braden sent ya!

Rowers Reserves second row stalwart Donald Campbell (of the Campbell Clan, Prince Edward Island), fit in seamlessly with the classic squad using some intelligent positioning early in the second half to receive a pass from Cooke, who had ripped it from other second row forward Kyle Katerenchuk following a clean win of a lineout at the 5 meter line, and walked in un-touched to make it 30-0, VRC.

Donald Campbell, pictured here confusing an opposing center, scored a try Saturday

The Rowers added one more try late in the game, finally breaking through some gutsy goal line defense by the visitors as Dazzler found loose forward Declan Geaney running a hard inside line to score his first try as a Rower. Decklan kicked a line-drive to convert his own try, the Rowers’ only successful kick on the day, and put the Rowers up 37-5. Ridge Meadows would add a try in the final minute to make it 37-12.

Declan NAILED the convert on his first try…
…and shot the boot for good measure.
L-R, Dave Andersen, Kyle Katerenchuk, Matthew Cox (who put the band back together), and Michael Cooke
L-R Jocelan Wallace, Holden Caulfield, Alex Ackerley, Kurt McInnes.
Special thanks to sideline photographers Mhairianne McKeeve, Kevin Nanne and anyone else who had the camera thrust upon them. Lots more photos in the gameday photo gallery.

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