Blue Crush Wrap Up Bays/Vikes Challenge Trophy: FULL MATCH VIDEO
by Phil Meyer
Now deep into mid-season, several teams have staked out “top four” contender status in the BCRU Premier League – others are drifting toward the bottom – while three or four teams find themselves mid-standings, with a playoff slot still in their own hands. On Sunday at MacDonald Park, James Bay Athletic Association looked to improve its status as a playoff contender, while U Vic Vikes needed a win to maintain contact near the middle of the pack.
Adding spice, this was the second game of the two-game-total-point annual series for the Bays/Vikes Challenge Trophy – established by the late Ian Stewart to highlight competitive rugby and development of athlete-citizens between players of these two teams. The Bays had won the first four of these challenges – but Vikes had prevailed the past two years. Bays had rolled over Vikes in the initial September game – and entered yesterday’s contest with a 25 point advantage.
Before the game, both teams and assembled spectators paused to remember Ray Ramsay, who started as a player with the Bays some 60+ years ago – ended as a supporter with his passing earlier this week. There is a Celebration of Ray’s life at the House of Bays today (Sunday) at 2:00 pm.
Whether focused on relative standings in the BCRU, or on Ian Stewart’s trophy, or both, the Vikes served notice that they had come to play, when Graydon Bowd slashed in to score, and converted his own, at the two minute mark.
The JBAA backfield lineup continues to be affected by Canada’s formula for international play. Phil Mack, Pat Parfrey, Mike Niewenhuysen and Sean White (injured) watched from the sidelines, but did not play. Connor Braid was in Dubai. Hence, the Bays’ strategy was to win through the Blue Crush – leaving field position to the talented toes of Elliot Mitrou and Ed Adams. This strategy worked by and large. After some 9 minutes of Blue Crush pressure against the Viker goal line, Blake Van Heyningen finishes off for the first Bays’ try of the day. Mitrou converts.
Another four minutes, the ball is spun wide right, with Adams scoring in the corner. Bays now lead 12 – 7. At mid-half, the Crush returns – Travis Larsen finishes the score – Mitrou converts. Vikes continue their spirited play, and Cathal Long scores at 24 minutes. Bowd again converts. JBAA 19 – U Vic 14.
As half time looms, the two teams exchange penalty goals (Mitrou at 26 minutes, Bowd at 29). The Mitrou kick is notable. Taken from 50 meters, it strikes the right upright, then corkscrews through for the tally. This is the second time in recent weeks that Elliot has banked a kick off a post and in. After the game, chat in the House of Bays leads this writer to accuse the Bay kicker of developing a new “kick with a twist” technique. At the half: Bays 22 – Vikes 17.
Nine minutes into Half Two, Vikes fullback Brennig Prevost brings his side even with a try. But the Blue Crush continue to set pace, and bite back with a score near mid-half – Jason Lines with the tally, Mitrou with the convert. A final long penalty kick by Mitrou, four minutes from end, improves Bays chances in the BCRU playoff derby – and brings them their fifth Bays/Vikes Challenge Trophy. Vikes, facing an unusually difficult year, continue their slide toward the BCRU underworld. At the end: Bays 32 – Vikes 22.
JBAA Reserves Upend Norsemen.
In the early game, Nate Tough notched the only try of the game – and Thomas Burton added a convert and two penalties to lead the Bays to a 13 – 0 win over the Norse. This performance was schizophrenic. Last week, JBAA Ones were paddled by Meralomas. This week, the Ones defense refused to allow fourth place Norsemen a single point, clawing their way back to the 6th and final playoff slot in BCRU Premier Reserve standings.
Next Saturday, JBAA travels to face challenge at UBC. Vikes host Seattle at Wallace Field.