Ravens Surge Down the Stretch to Claim Win Over UBC 30-17
by Peter MacDonald
On a warm sunny day at UBC the fans were entertained by a high quality game between two strong sides. UBC has had no shortage of top flight players over the past few years and it was interesting to see them spread throughout the venue... some on the current UBC team, some now with the Ravens and others on the sidelines either due to injury or national team commitments or graduation and the decision to take a break, rest the body and be a supporter. But it was clear from this game that there is another good crop of students well on their way.
The first 20 minutes were intense with the Ravens striking first through Aaron McLelland. A UBC defender just missed intercepting a long Raven pass to McLelland and from there McLelland shook off a couple of tacklers, cut left and made a 30 metre bee line to the posts, 7-0 Ravens. UBC answered with a long spell of pressure in which they were denied repeatedly at the left corner flag by a host of saving tackles. At the 20 minute mark though UBC finally broke through. From a set scrum, centre Ben Lesage crashed and was held out. #10 Theo Sauder then crashed off the ruck and with one arm fully outstretched, while being gang-tackled, he got the ball down for the try, 7-7.
The next 20 minutes saw the teams share possession and scoring chances evenly. The Ravens went ahead 10-7 after a high tackle on the Ravens’ lock Sam Clarke with the kick taken by Harjun Gill who stood in for Adam McQueen who had started in the centres but had had to leave the game after suffering first a cut to the face and then a blow to the head. UBC’s Sauder then tied the game just before the half after a Raven infringement at the ruck, 10-10 at the half.
The Ravens drew first blood in half two at 50 minutes from first phase lineout ball near midfield. Off the top from Nick Waggott the ball moved to centre Cully Quirke who found a hole and then sent right winger Sean Ferguson off. Ferguson beat his man wide and outran the pursuit down the right sideline, 15-10 Ravens. Again UBC answered with pressure at the Raven line and after a series of sets and free ones, Cole Keffer darted in, 17-15 UBC at 55 minutes.
Shortly after, the Ravens’ #8 Kol Henrikson was binned for misconduct but despite engaging in set scrums 8 to 7 against a strong UBC pack the Ravens held on without surrendering points during Kol’s absence. One factor during this period in the game was the play of Ben Grant who had subbed into the centres for Adam McQueen. His crash running put the students on their heels and his consecutive hard low tackles on Niko Clironomos and then big prop Clint Lemkus led to some alpha male discussion and horseplay after the whistle when the next UBC runner knocked on with Grant ready for another tackle.
On Henrikson’s return things finally turned in the Ravens’ favour. A Gill penalty kick moved the Ravens into the lead at 18-17 at 73 minutes. Then two sudden tries iced it. First, in a top class show of running, McLelland accelerated through a hole on the right and then proceeded to cut left repeatedly to avoid tackles until he was running sideways and nearly backward looking for help until Quirke took a sweet pass from McLelland and drove through tacklers for the try, 25-17. Then Ferguson intercepted a UBC pass and ran in a final try ringing up a 30-17 score and a bonus point Raven win.
The Ravens matched the students’ fitness and their stout defence together with their outside speed with the ball in hand made the difference. Raven flankers Simon Eltheve and Nick Waggott with help from others keyed on Sauder and contained him with sure tackles taking away UBC options on attack. Scrum half AJ King had a blinder particularly in the rough areas, tackling and rucking, as well as distributing and running well. The three man prop group of Garbe, Delmonico and Taylor kept the UBC pack from dominating. While UBC moved the Ravens back at the sets it wasn’t the factor it might have been. Left winger Graham Turner continues to do everything right, playing calmly and running straight and hard. In particular he made big yards and gave the Ravens a needed boost at the time on a wing delay in the second half with the Ravens down to 14 men. The back three are all danger men.
Nice to see two Carson boys at lock at UBC They follow their uncles/fathers to UBC and apparently there may be more to come. That augurs well for a UBC program that clearly will have another very successful season.
Ravens Top Lomas 57-3: Jebb Sinclair Makes Coaching Debut but Day Belongs to Visitors
by Peter MacDonald
A cool day greeted the players at Connaught Park and the rain held off for the premier game but the Ravens brought some heat that the home squad couldn’t cope with on the day. Rather than recount the action in the usual fashion it may be more useful to make some broad observations.
The first is that rather than rely on a robust qualification process as in recent years or on a promotion/relegation system, the BCRU has opened up the premier league to all comers this year. It is to be hoped that all goes well and best wishes to all eleven teams but the proof will be in the pudding.
The Lomas have stepped up and good on them. They played with heart throughout and with new coach Jebb Sinclair they should have an enjoyable year.
Thomas Viljoen at #10 manages the game well and veterans Dan Fumano and Mike Hall along with captain Josh Clarke will provide leadership. The #12 gave fits to the Ravens defence with his quickness and the big #9 wearing jersey #24 looked good too. There is depth in the club as the Lomas won the First Div. game 22-12.
Hopefully the Lomas premier team can gradually close the gap on some of the incumbent teams.
The Ravens had it going all day and had most of the possession. Their scrum had the upper hand but it was the backs who lit it up. As the game wore on the Ravens had more time and space to operate in and a sevens style attack evolved. Harjun Gill at #10 delivered long passes to outside backs laying wide with support and the outside speed of Sean Ferguson, Karsten Leitner and Aaron McLelland ripped open the defence.
The Raven forwards mauled in two tries and were efficient in the sets and lineouts. New flanker Simon Eltheve had a good debut and club stalwart Kol Henrikson slotted in well at #8 continuing his progression from wing to maybe front row one day. When you tackle like Kol there will always be a place in the side.
Adam McQueen and Chris Taylor have come over from UBC. Adam played well with new captain Cully Quirke in the centers and handled the kicking at goal. Chris shared front row duties with Garret Garbe. Aaron McLelland on the other hand having returned from the Australia tour with UBC has chosen to put his education on hold and is back with the Ravens. The ease with which he can change speeds and direction and avoid tackles is ridiculous and his abilities were on full display on Saturday.
Looking forward to a fun match with UBC next week.