Ravens Win U16 Provincial Title over Cowichan 41-24
by Peter MacDonald
posted Dec 7 2016
A sunny day, a dry field, a good crowd and a backdrop of snow-capped mountains set the stage for the U16 club championship game at Jericho this past Sunday. The Ravens came in undefeated, most recently winning their semi-final against Abbotsford, and had been scoring prolifically through their backs. Cowichan had beaten CW in their semi-final and were rounding into form. Both clubs have produced many rep players through their junior programs in the past. The Ravens of late have sent Connor Trainor onto the Canada 7s and 15s teams and Phil Berna and Karsten Leitner onto the current Canada 7s team. Cowichan boasts Matt Evans in 15s and Pat Kay in 7s. Perhaps another future national men’s player would be taking the field this day.
Cowichan drew first blood when, after a spirited defence at their own line, the fullback was sent away after a heavy bosh by one of his forwards, 5-0 Cowichan. The Ravens answered promptly as the #10, Landon Clironomos, burst through a hole and scampered in, 7-5 Ravens. Within minutes Clironomos again broke the line via the dummy and after a few phases Damian Hu touched down, 12-5 Ravens. A fourth try at the 17 minute mark brought Cowichan even as their captain, #12 in the centres, bulled his way in after his pack had stolen one against the head and won a few rucks to bring them close to the Ravens’ line. It was game on and the Ravens were going to have to raise their game if they wanted the win.
With the slope and the low sun in their favour the Ravens then took their advantage when a clearing kick by Cowichan fell to the Ravens’ fullback, Connor Palmer. He angled right from 30 metres out and fed his winger, Liam Cooper, for a try in the right corner nicely converted by centre Thomas Kirkwood, for a 19-12 lead. Then, just before the half, a Clironomos punt was knocked on at the Cowichan 22. From the scrum centre, the Ravens went right and Cooper this time had to work a bit harder but he touched down again, 24-12 at the half.
Cowichan now had the south end and its advantages and they were ready to get back in the game. After a long stretch of Cowichan possession at 36 minutes their captain again touched down, extending his left arm with ball in hand while fending off the tackler with a strong right arm, 24-17 Ravens and now a one try game. More Cowichan tries might have been in the offing but good defence then held them at bay, particularly two hard tackles by Clironomos that emboldened the team. Three Raven tries in the latter stages then allowed them to pull away. Kirkwood and Palmer each had one to cap off another good day for the Ravens’ backs. Cowichan tallied late pouncing on an errant pass by the Ravens to close out the score and the game at 41-24.
The Cowichan pack had the upper hand in the sets, while in the loose both sets of forwards played well. The Cowichan #8 had a solid game, dragging tacklers forward repeatedly. Raven forwards that stood out included #8 Ben Stacey, prop Beckett Elliot and Aidan James. The Ravens’ backs were the difference as they took advantage fully of any weakness in the Cowichan defence. Scrum half and captain Jake Bourne gave good service and had the composure at one ruck to point out to the referee with his left hand the Cowichan defenders who were fringing offside as he braced his right hand on the ball in preparation for a pass. The pass was made and the referee was playing advantage for the Ravens.
Nice job by the Cowichan coaches and the Raven coaches Tristan Elliot and Everett Konsmo. Congratulations to both teams on an excellent game and good luck to all the players in their future school, club and representative rugby pursuits.