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Mother Nature Welcomes Return of Rugby
A Windsor Park bathed in sun, supporters’ banners displayed, scoreboard turning over, field prepared by regulars, Shep, Morley and Bogey, the indominatable Peter Kilshaw and Gord Hawkins, the CW Face at the Gate, cajoling a few dollars to view the lads return to the fray, were all in place on Saturday. Despite the absence of a constitutional brewskie, it was a great afternoon. Sporting new jerseys from new sponsors, Dry World, the players looked to be very happy to be “giving it a go”. This Company is the brainchild of former players, Matt Weingart and Brian McKenzie. Thank you. No fault of Dry World, but this pundit wonders what was passe about original colours? Finally, hats off to both officials orchestrating their matches, letting the players decide matters within the realm of the law.
The curtain-raiser was an exhibition opportunity for the lads to have their first competitive game in many moons. Kudos to the Hornets for mustering a near-full compliment for the road trip and to a few CW Islanders who showed up so that 15-aside halves could be played. The action complimented the Sunfest that had been predicted to be an “atmospheric river”!
The main game, “First Division” this season, featured a few “regulars” and the opportunity for many newcomers to make their mark. Nanaimo, with #8 Brad Marshall and #9 Sam Fowler and CW, with John Braddock, Kyle Hohert and John Humphries, in the forwards and Schelly, in the backs, were familiar faces. There was an interesting by-line with both captains, Braddock, and Fowler, having played high school rugby together in New Zealand. Just a little water under that bridge, with both having quality years and contributions to the game in Canada.
It was early in the half when the experienced CW Front Row Fraternity split the visitors scrum for a Darius Towers, tight head tally. The scoreboard ticked over steadily for the home team, with halfback, Zech Pilgrim showing pace and alertness for his brace. Makaroff scooted around like a thoroughbred, quite comfortable in his new center spot and earning a scintillating solo, and the half finished with another scrum shunt for a second tight-head tally, believe it was Kratz. The pattern and flow were positive and commendable for such early days. It was tough sledding for the Hornets, somewhat starved of possession and a fairly faultless forty for the Tricolours.
Much substitution occurred at the interval, and it was with far greater resolve that the Hornets gave contest, testing the defensive line on several occasions with periods of continuity and CW was kept off the scoreboard. #8, Pyke, made some useful forays and it was Darius Towers who earned his brace following a determined burst from a ruck, dragging a couple of defenders across the line with him. Gavin Kratz earned his “pair” following a performance on the day that was quite lively, displaying a real danger with ball in hand and a couple of deft hand-offs. Despite the deficit, the Hornets finished knocking on the door, a tribute to them and a positive note on which to end their afternoon. Their efforts had been appreciated by a sizeable group of supporters.
In summary, apologies for not identifying individual Hornets except for the tireless, Fowler. It was tough to name individuals, and the pack did not give up but looked short of a trot. For the Home side, this fan thought Humphries and Towers were the pick of the pack with honourable mention to Kratz, Hohert and Pyke. Pilgrim, at #9 caught the eye with his forty minutes in that spot but for mine, Makaroff was M-o-M. Tait, at #10 was more than up to the task, linking to create a flowing attack and adding some not too shabby conversions. Schelly was Schelly, involved in a highlight reel of set play, featuring several “loops”, that also involved Tait, Gus Porter, Makaroff and finished by Pilgrim – slick stuff! Although I thought Makaroff had an edge on Kratz, Captain Braddock awarded the Player-of-the-Day to Gavin Kratz who certainly did not disappoint.
Makaroff, from Kratz, on the march!
Next up, Div 2 travels to Cowichan and First Div plays away at UVic next Saturday. This will be a tough, early season test of numbers and strength. Cowichan, fielding only a Div 2 team will be a handful at the Pig Pen and the Vikes who have taken it on the chin in Coastal Cup play so far will be out to prove that they are superior to the local club teams and most definitely, a standard up that CW has not been tested against to this point. Hopefully, a goof core of The Faithful will provide support at Wallace.
p.s. Finnie was a last minute withdrawal, called on by the Tide. Result in that one East Vancouver, 24 - Crimson Tide 14.
SCHEDULING CORRECTIONS: The Coastal Cup Schedule has confused this writer!! Next Saturday ( 23rd ), Second Div travels to Port Alberni and the Firsts have a BYE. The following week ( 30th ), First Division plays UVic ( Norsemen ) @ Wallace; Seconds Vs Cowichan @ Windsor; VIRU Tide Vs Vanccouver Wave ( Coastal Cup, Mc Donald Park. ) Put that in your Funkand Wagnalls!
A good contingent of players travelled to Cowichan to compete at the Pig Pen in the season’s opening Jamboree. Four clubs, Cowichan, Nanaimo, Comox, and CW competed in the rain. Other Island senior teams, Westshore and JBAA were not in attendance.
The women’s Fall season is focused on development and everyone getting plenty of playing time. Having said that, it was a most enjoyable afternoon with our ladies showing improvement from last week.
A shout out to the referees whose officiating allowed a positive flow, often ignoring minor infractions with verbal help to the players. CW managed wins in two matches and recorded a loss against a very strong Cowichan team, featuring NSWT’s Laura Russell and Tyson Beukeboom. Well done, all.
CW travels to Comox next week. “On the road again!”