The Vancouver Rowing Club Premier side delivered an exciting, convincing road victory this past Saturday, beating James Bay 31-12 and returning the Cox Cup to Canada’s oldest active rugby club.
Both teams came out determined to set the tone early with physical play, especially at the breakdowns, each of them scoring a turnover in the first 15 minutes off of counter rucks. The Rowing Club got their back line working in minute 16, with a familiar wide open attack outside. Winger Ryan “Drago” Williams, finding center Jordan W-R, and finally fullback Tom Rowland. The conversion was good, to make it 7-0.
The Rowers pack looked strong early on, dominating at set piece and asserting themselves well at the breakdowns. The strong pack play allowed Head Coach and scrum half Duncan “Two Pack a Day DJ” James to lead the execution of pattern they’d worked on all week, wearing down the home side’s defense bit by bit until fly half Nick Wackawitz finally made a line break, put one down under the posts, and notched the successful conversion in the 25th minute to make it 14-0 Rowing Club.
They would add another in the 27th minute, as a Rowers pack maul that was set off a line out created an overlap in the James Bay end, and Rowland was again able to find enough space to carry it in. The conversion would widen the VRC lead to 21-0.
But the hosts weren’t going to give up without a fight. James Bay applied pressure on phase play in the 52nd minute, moving the Rowers back yard by yard with each breakdown, before finally punching one in. The kick was good to make it 21-7 in the 52nd minute.
The Rowers back line went right back on the attack, as some hard lines stretched the ability of the James Bay defense. Williams ran one hard attack line that took him from the 22 meter line, past the ten meter line, before finally being dragged down by two tacklers. The Rowers set their pattern from that position and ran phases before eventually swinging it back to Drago wide for another try, making it 26-7 in the 59th minute.
James Bay responded in the 63rd minute, grinding the Rowers back with more phase play until they worked it past the line to add five. 26-12.
Wily centre Mitch Stainer pounced on a loose ball in the 67th minute to get the Rowers offense working again. The attack advanced the ball and earned a penalty that was kicked to touch. The Rowers won the ensuing line out and set a maul that was held up in the end goal. Open play off of the goal line drop-out kick ended as Coach James found the space to put a down a final Rowers’ try in the corner. Rowers win 31-12.
The victory gives the VRC’s top side a 5-1 record on the year, good for second place in the BC Mainland standings, behind the Capilanos. The Prems are next in action Saturday March 5th, when they will host UBC at Brockton.
Find more great pictures from all three games in the game gallery!