Bays Prevail in Bays/Vikes Challenge at UVic
by Phil Meyer
For those who like long runs and lots of scoring, Saturday’s BCRU Premier track meet between JBAA Prems and U Vic Vikes – played under sunny Victoria skies – was a rugby feast. The Bays notched nine trys. Vikes added another five. At the end, JBAA won 61 to 36, to seize its first BCRU win of the season – and gain a 25 point edge in the annual “home and home” two game total point series for the Bays/Vikes Challenge Cup – donated by the late Ian Stewart, to encourage exceptional rugby competition, sportsmanship and citizen building between these two clubs.
Post game, pundits talked of “lack of defense” - undoubtedly a factor. But in this writer’s view, the key to the game was commitment by both sides to play wide open rugby. While there were Blue Crush moments during the game, the dominant theme seemed to be “get the ball out”, “pass it (and in some instances, throw it) around”, and use speed to burn up significant portions of Wallace Field turf to score – and score – and score. Scrum play was intense – but neither team seemed overly committed to attack through ruck and maul.
JBAA manoeuvres were managed by Phil Mack – Canada’s #1 scrum half. Phil scored two trys – threatened more – and directed the Navy Blue offense and D from game’s start to end. The Bays’ line-up varies from full on to less so, week to week – depended on which of our players receive Canada calls. Saturday, we were close to full on. Pat Parfrey, another Canada, teamed with Mack to provide a strong #9/#10 combo - setting up an ever dangerous Clayton Meeres – bolstered by the return of Mike Nieuwenhuysen in the centers. Elliot Mitrou, playing on the wing, went 8 for 9 on convert kicks, several from the far sideline – while Mitch Sora continued to show promise on the other wing – entering his BC rugby days at the deep end of the pool.
Sean White, a recent Canada, patrolled at #15, notching two trys of his own, and, as always, steadying the Navy Blue backline D.
In the forwards, the JBAA tight five was strengthened by the return of Cole Keith and Lucas Rumball from U20 Canada play – joining the already solid array of Noah Barker, Blake Van Heyningen, Graham Harriman, Kieran McAuley and Jack Mealey. Rumball was particularly noticeable, joining Travis Larsen and Andrew de Goede to provide across the field cover on both attack and defense.
Giuseppe du Toit led the Vikes from his # 10 spot – and scored 11 points with his talented toe – 8 via convert – 3 on a penalty goal.
The Bays strike four minutes in – pass out from Parfrey – Meeres slices through, jigs around two defenders, pass to Mike Nieuwenhuysen, score. Mitrou converts. Du Toit responds with a penalty goal. Then Bays slice the Viker defense again; de Goede passes to Nieuwenhuysen, out to Sora – the rookie scores. Another Mitrou convert. Eleven minutes in: Bays 14 – Vikes 3.
JBAA continues to press – but just past mid-way in the half, a mystery back pass from the Blues is gobbled up by Ethen Hager, who shows his Viker heels as he gallops 60 meters for a first Vikes score. Rumball powers in for the Bays three minutes later. Mitrou’s convert now leaves the score: JBAA 21 – Vikes 10.
The Vikes are not quitters. They continue to play hard – and threaten with their speed. Three minutes from half, Hager strikes again – kicking the ball forward from the base of the JBAA scrum – then out-legging chasing Bays to the goal line. Du Toit converts. With the Bays somewhat bemused, and Chris Assmus puckering to blow half time on his wonky whistle, Fergus Hall races over for a third Viker try. Du Toit again converts. At the half: Vikes 24 – Bays 21. Yikes! What’s happening?
In Half 2, the Bays surge back. Nine minutes in, another back attack – Meeres powers in to reclaim JBAA’s lead. Another Mitrou convert. At 56 minutes, ball wide to Sean White who slides into the left corner for his first. Mitrou converts from the sideline. JBAA 35 – U Vic 24.
Then another mystic moment. Bays assume the Viker kick-off will land out of bounds. James O’Neill thinks different – grabs the ball in full flight – 40 meters later, touches down in the Blue in-goal – Bays’ supporters roll their eyes. Du Toit’s convert brings the Vikes within four.
But, the last 20 minutes, led by Phil Mac and Sean White, is all Bays. At 21 minutes, Mack slips through a blink in the Vikes’ defense for one of his patented 50 meter scoring runs. Mitrou converts. Five minutes later, White finishes off an out-wide attack in the left corner for his second. At 71 minutes, Mack is back again; jink left – up the middle to score. Mitrou convert. Bays now 54 – Vikes 31.
Four minutes from time, Liam Mahon scores the Vikes’ 5th try. At game’s end, Travis Larsen strides down the left sideline for JBAA’s 9th try. Mitrou converts his 8th. Bays 61 – Vikes 36.
JBAA Premier Reserve 33 – U Vic Norsemen 33.
In the early game, the Bays and Norsemen played to a 33-33 tie. This was a big improvement from last week for the Navy Blue. But JBAA’s players left the field with mixed feelings. They led 26-14 at the half – and were looking at a fairly easy clinching penalty kick with five minutes left in the game, when somebody slipped their lip, and the penalty was reversed. Well, both teams played spirited rugby – and 3 points on the day is not entirely shabby.
The Bays were led by Jack Mealey, Jake de Goede and Jimmy de Goede in the forwards – and by Neil Meechan in the backs. JBAA try scorers were Mealey, Meechan, Jake Slobodian, Mark Perron and Rhys Cunnin. Elliot Johnson was successful on four out of five Bays’ converts.
Next Saturday, the Bays host Burnaby Lake. Vikes host UBC.
Bays Grind Hard – Fall to CW’s: 28-15
by Phil Meyer
Saturday, the men of James Bay Athletic Association drove under the Tweed Curtain to stand up against Castaway Wanderers at Windsor Park in Oak Bay. These matches represent very earliest days in the start to the 2017-18 BCRU Premier and Premier Reserve rugby season – and this writer was pleased to see that the Bays had managed to muster two full sides.
The Bays’ scrum, featuring Blake van Heyningen, Andrew Macpherson, Noah Barker, Jim de Goede, Graham Harriman, Rhys Davies, Kieran McAuley and Travis Larsen led JBAA to a 15-14 halftime edge – Davies scoring 5 minutes in – Larsen kicking the ball forward, then falling on his own grubber just past mid-half – Elliot Mitrou kicking a convert and a penalty goal.
CW answered with two trys – by Kevin Leask at 16 minutes – and Rob Povey 28 minutes in – both converted by Povey.
Through early half two, balance of play showed the Blue Crush with advantage in the scrums – Phil Mack mastering the game from his #9 position - CW attacking through their backs.
Forty-five minutes in, Rhys Davies had to retire with a shoulder issue, and the worm began to turn. At this season’s start, the JBAA line-up might be described as thin – a top line of forwards – Mack at scrum half - a few good men, supported by young comers, giving their all in the backs. But lose a key player like Davies against a powerful team like CW, and momentum threatens to shift – and it did.
Over the past few years, the CW’s have enjoyed a very good junior development program, and a pipelining of young players from Rugby Canada. They have exceptional depth. In half two this showed. Their fullback, Mitch Newman, raced to a score at 48 minutes. At mid-half, Hubert Buydens, in as a sub, powered over. Povey converted both to finish 4 for 4 on the day.
The Bays continued to play hard D all over the field – but could not manage to get back into the scoring line. At the end, a deserved 28 to 15 win for CW.
CW Premier Reserves 40 – JBAA 12.
In Premier Reserve play, CW rode three trys to a 19-12 halftime lead – then added three more in half two – to prevail 40-12. The Bays got a first half try from Eric Thompson, converted by Ethan Phillips – and a second half score from Cole Braid.
In a CW Olde Farts presentation of touch rugby between the main games, spectators got to watch Canada’s Ray Barkwill cavort around – evidently preparing for Canada games down the road. Barkwill’s appearance was courtesy of the BCRU’s byzantine dictums on who can play (and how many) week to week to week.
Next weekend, the Bays travel to U Vic. Castaway’s Prems rest.