The VRC Women’s side played high-intensity rugby on the road to earn a convincing 17-5 win over Richmond RFC this past Saturday.
Centre Robyn MacDonald began an emotional final game as a Rower by recovering a turnover in the first minute, setting up the Rowers’ first attack, which was ultimately stopped by a knock-on. The Rowers pack used the ensuing scrum to set the tone for the day, pushing Richmond off of their own ball, and and getting it cleanly to scrum half Robynne Shannon, who fired it quickly to fly half Meghan Buchanan in plenty of space to attack before Richmond had time to switch to a defensive alignment. Buchanan made a lateral cut to evade the first defender, then tore up field, finding gaps and making a chase of it in the open field. They couldn’t catch her, and the captain made it 5-0 in the third minute.
Veteran #8 Jocelyn Wallace returned the restart kick through the outside channel and inside the Richmond 22 before being hauled down, then immediately got up to continue the attack, but was ruled to have not properly released the ball on the deck before the second carry. The penalty ended the threat and marched the Rowing Club back ten yards in what would become a theme.
Richmond caught a break off the ensuing penalty and sprung a runner into space outside, who would have scored had she not been chased down by Jessica Deagle, who put her on the deck in what was ruled to be a high tackle. Penalties followed the Rowers all day, the result of high-intensity, physical play boiling over. They were assessed a warning about high tackles by the referee, and a reminder about that warning at half time.
But the the energy and physical play on defense served the Rowers well. Utility back liner Judith Peuvergne, who had an excellent game on both sides of the ball, laid down a punishing tackle on an inside line in the 20th minute. Buchanan managed to knock the ball loose with a good, low hit in the 23rd minute, recovering it herself. The Rowers advanced the recovered ball and worked carries inside for several phases before swinging it wide to winger Kirsty Auckland in enough space to beat her opposite number around the corner and take it all the way home from just inside mid-field, delighting the Rowers’ supporters who had made the trip out. The try made it 10-0 Rowers in the 27th minute.
Auckland would score again two minutes later, sticking with Peuvergne in a strong support position and receiving the inside pop near the goal line to finish the job under the posts after a lengthy carry by the young French back. A successful conversion made it 17-0 at the half.
The hosts came out strong in the second half, using intelligent lines and crafty running to get through the Rowers’ D and put themselves on the board right away. 17-5 in the 30th minute.
But the Rowers were able to control the game for most of the second half as well. The pack continued to dominate the scrums and contribute to the attack, creating pressure and keeping it moving with creative offloads.
Relentless hustle and high-impact defense created turnovers that kept the Richmond attack from getting anything going, and the Rowers may well have widened the final deficit had they not continued to be dogged by penalties.
After the game, Buchanan told her team that she was proud of them for playing their brand of rugby, and that it felt good to be sticking tackles.
“Ryah [Lyttle] had a thumper of a hit!” said backs coach Cyril Burgen, commenting on a second half tackle by the prop forward. Head Coach Hugh Wallace told the Ruck Muck that, “Strong forward play set the platform for us to dominate all day,” and was pleased with the way his team went after the ball at the breakdown. “We worked on jackling all week,” he said.
The win gives the Rowers Women a 1-1-0 record in 2022, good for third place in the Lower Mainland 2nd division behind the Comox Valley Kickers and the Capilanos. The Women are next in action Saturday March 5th, when they will host Comox Valley at Brockton.