CW’s two men’s Premier teams seem to have chosen a very inopportune time to go into a slump, verging on that of mediocrity. The chaps lost both games to the students on the weekend and now face two of the league’s toughest and to date, successful opponents, with a trip to Burnaby after Remembrance and then the undefeated Ravens visit the House of Windsor.
There were some success stories on the weekend and the Islanders (CW’s VIRU 2nd Di.) team had a good win over U.Vic’s Saxons, 40 – 7. This bunch of old boys and youngsters seem to be revelling in the opportunity to play competitive rugby and to date are doing so, rather successfully. ‘onyas, Islanders!
Next we shift the focus to UVic. The Reserves lost to the Norsemen, 21 – 7. This scribe did not see the match nor hear any reports but the score line was a surprise and the outcome puts CW somewhat out of reach, at this point, of the four front-runners.
The Premier match opened with some sustained early pressure from CW which was repelled by the Vikes. Play ebbed and flowed with CW advantages being nullified by poor passing and breakdowns. A classic example was a very dangerous break from Polson only for the ball to be lost in contact. As the day wore on, unfortunately, fans were to see much more of the same. Bowd opened the scoring around the 22 min mark and soon after Adibe replied for CW. Then it was Morgan Tate, on debut with a deft dummy and shimmy for the first try, 10 – 3, CW. UVic responded with what looked like the simplest of tries, when McMullen sliced and diced through some poor attempts at the tackle, for an all too easy, equalising tally, 10 – 10. Play was fairly even with possession and territory, until about ten minutes to the half when CW forwards probed again, working the ball ever so tantalizingly close to the line, again UVic gained possession and worked it clear. Thus endeth the half.
CW opened the second stanza fairly early with a try by Fraser, after some lively runs from Johnston and Ngongo. CW had a chance to open the gap with the line wide open – dropped ball! UVic forwards were working hard with a sense they had the match of their older and slightly bigger and supposedly more experienced, opponents. CW found themselves under the cosh when they failed to clear a kick from their line. From the ensuing mess, a penalty was awarded for an unclear decision to this observer. Bowd, alertly tapped and crossed for an opportunist tally, 15 – 15. CW again came back and must have had a dozen or more pick and drives but UVic held and when Burns found the ball in his hands he passed blind side to the speedy McCarthy who scooted forty and booted the ball deep in CW territory. This stout goal-line stand was clearly, the “TSN Turning Point”. U.Vic’s center, McMullen showed up with some dangerous late runs. As the game wound down, Nanyak made a useful break and the ball was worked about two meters short, only to be lost again in a counter-ruck. UVic was full of running and returned the play to their attacking end. What followed was four successive, mystifying, based on signals given, scrum penalties to CW. From the last of these penalties, UVic deemed dominance and called for another scrum. From the strike, #8, Matthews drove hard and touched down, 26 – 15.
Firstly, let me say, I have seen more accurately interpreted games. This being said, the Vikes were marginally the better side, in a game of missed opportunities by the visitors. For UVic, Bos, Kratz and especially Burns, got through a lot of work. The halves pairing of Pitbaldo and Bowd had the upper hand and McMullen and Mc McCarthy were dangerous with ball in hand. Neither side handled that well in very extreme conditions but UVic was the surer of the two.
For CW, I have to start with the fact that the sets, although a couple of scrums were shunted, were not of their early season dominance. The #9/10 link was not sharp and Tate handled some swampy situations rather well. Play at the breakdown did not seem to have anywhere near the importance of possession of quality ball that should have been the case. Polson was head and shoulders above his mates in the pack and Johnston and Ngongo tried hard to make things happen. No doubt the coaching staff will be racking their brains, into the night over this tape. The boys have two weeks to repair some bodies and travel to Burnaby to try for redemption. A shout out to those brave few who soldiered the elements to cheers the boys on and good on you, Hugh, for scoring the ladies match under such conditions. Thanks to all officials on the day when the weather was possibly even more difficult for you than the players.