The Rowers Premier side beat the Ravens at Jericho this past Saturday, in an exciting come from behind road victory.
This one was hard hitting from the opening whistle, as Rowers 8th man Micheal Cooke delivered a high-impact tackle/ jackal that set the tone, and drew a penalty. The Ravens D was able to hold off the early Rowers’ attack.
The home team would score first in the ninth minute, beating the Rowers defense along the outside and slotting the conversion to make it 7-0.
The Rowers built themselves another chance in the 15th minute, when a beautiful tackle by center Ollie Joyce turned the Ravens over in their own end, and set the Rowers up for phases that eventually got it back to Joyce, who dragged defenders into the endzone to put it down for the points. 7-5 Ravens after 17 minutes.
The Ravens were undeterred. A sophisticated attack created holes in the Rowers’ defense, and cycled the ball quickly to remain on the front foot. Tries in the 24th and 27th minutes made it 21-5 Ravens.
But the Rowers kept up a strong, physical style of play that started to get under skin of their hosts, who were issued a yellow card in the 31st minute for dangerous play.
Scrum half Dermot O’Meara took the opportunity afforded to the Rowers by the Ravens numbers being shortened immediately, scoring a try to make it 21-12 after the conversion in the 31st minute.
The Rowers would again take advantage of the man advantage in the 36th minute, blind-side winger Jakeb Roiri showing some speed up the outside to score a try in his first game as a Rower and make it 21-17 in the 36th minute.
The pressure continued in the 40th minute, as Nick Wackawitz found fullback Jordan W-R on the outside with a long pass. Jordan had a full head of steam, and enough momentum and power to end up in the endzone, had he not been dragged down and into touch by a horse collar tackle. There was a dustup, and a brief discussion that resulted in another Ravens yellow card, just as the first one expired.
The Rowers set a maul off the line-out and marched it in to take a 24-21 lead just before half time.
The Ravens came out playing their best rugby after the half, using the pattern to create an overlap and exploiting the space. A missed conversion made it 26-24 after 41′. They would add a penalty kick in the 47′ to make it 29-24.
The Ravens forced a turnover in the 50th minute to stop a promising Rowers attack in their own end, and looked for a moment like they might be able to exploit the gaps in the shape with a counter, but the Rowers’ D was all over them. Another big tackle from Ollie forced a kick, and the Rowing Club was able to maintain momentum.
The Rowers physical play earned them a yellow card of their own in the 56th minute, leaving them without standout center Doug Fraser for ten minutes. The Rowers were pressed back and issued successive penalties at the breakdowns, as the Ravens attack kept moving forward. It would eventually gain the line, only to see the grounding attempt knocked on.
The Ravens exploited the man advantage in the 60th minute, making it 34-24 after a missed kick, and added another in the 62nd minute with a speedy attack up the outside. 39-24 after the second kick clanged off the crossbar.
Super-sub Rowers Flanker and tattoo aficionado Morgan Brinson, sparked the Rowers’ attack in the 66th minute with a strong, crafty run that eventually culminated in Roiri’s second try of the day. Roiri would slot the conversion himself, narrowing the Ravens’ lead to 39-31.
In the 71st minute, veteran Rowers center Tom O’Hare was able to turn the Ravens attack over in their own end, and get it to 2nd row forward Felix Grignon, who would carry it in from the 22, before finally being tackled just shy of paydirt. Quick hands then got it to Wackawitz on the outside, who took it home and put it down under the posts. A successful conversion narrowed the Ravens’ lead to one point; 39-38.
The Rowers would earn another lineout in the Ravens end in the 77th minute, and successfully go back to the maul that had worked for them all season. The try made it 39-43, and that’s where it stayed.
Reached for comment after the game, a usually terse Coach Duncan James had plenty to say about the effort. “Lads showed great resilience, character and trust to ride the peaks and valleys of the game. They twice came together as a team after going 17 and 12 points behind in each of the two halves to work themselves back into a position to control the game in the last five minutes and take the lead. Some fantastic improvements on the set piece, physical back play and overall collective team structure. Very proud of them individually but most importantly as a collective. They really demonstrated what it means to play for this club.”
The Prems have a bye next week. They are in action October 29, when they will host James Bay at Brockton.
The Rowers Women are the only team in action next Saturday, October 22. They will host the visiting Kelowna RFC. 11:15 kickoff.
More great photos in our Gameday Gallery.