Valhallians Come Up Short at Battle of Jericho
by Clancy McDonnell
Men’s Premier: WRFC 10 – UBCOB 29
Westshore’s Velox Valhallians travelled to Jericho Park on Saturday to play the UBC Old Boys in the last fixture of 2017. The teams thudded and thumped their way through heavy fog in a tough fought encounter, and the Ravens walked away with the spoils.
The first half was a close run affair, with the hosts taking a 12-10 advantage into the break. The second half was terse, with the VVs producing perhaps slightly better continuity and pattern play, but the Ravens producing the decisive punches all the way to the try-line that marked the difference between the teams.
Despite the visitors throwing the kitchen sink, they couldn’t match the strong home side that sits in the top echelon of the league.
Premier Reserve: WRFC 20 – UBCOB 34
If ever there was a tale of two halves, this was it. The second team had a barry in the first half, leaking points through tries and a couple of penalties sharply kicked midway through. Defensive cohesion and commitment was lacking, and the UBC Old Boys ran through for a number of well taken tries.
The second half was a different story as the visitors flexed at scrum time, remarkably pushing their hosts back 40 metres (okay, maybe only that far if you listen to the exuberant front-rower Cam Neish). But it really was a good scrum. The second half score-line was 20 – zip to the good guys, but not enough to rectify the mistakes of the opening stanza.
At the end of the fall session of games, the Valhallians are in an interesting position. After a strong opening couple of weekends in their return to top flight rugby, they lost their way somewhat. They found their attacking shape only intermittently productive enough, while the defence was, broadly, neither committed nor clever enough for the demands of premier rugby.
There has been a turnaround over the last few weeks though. A new coaching structure has breathed a bit of life into the program. Despite the injuries and miscellaneous absences that all clubs suffer through the heavy slog of competition, Westshore has been able to field solid teams in a difficult schedule (all of the mainland BC teams were played on the other side of the water).
The decent performance of the second team (inevitably a team with a lot of chops and changes to the lineup) is a huge positive – the issue for the club is not a lack of cattle.
Sight of the weekend: solid hosting by the Ravens including a rousing rendition of that classic rugby song – Shoot the Boot.
Next game for the men: 20th January, 2018.
Westshore Claim Two Wins at Home Versus Nanaimo
by Clancy McDonnell
Men’s Premier: WRFC 43 – Nanaimo 12
The Velox Valhallians hosted Nanaimo on Saturday and played a solid game to record their first win for quite some time. Nanaimo got out of the blocks early, pouncing on a handling error to race in under the sticks barely a minute in to the game. Thereafter, the VVs played the most rugby, constructed a winning score, and restricted the Hornets to just one more try.
Decisive scoring plays came through the backs. Outside centre Paul van Thiel took a sharp pass and charged through the midfield defence to score under the posts. Halfback Rhett Moore squeaked down the sideline for a 40 metre dash to the line. Siti Nacoko found a gap then booted the ball downfield, chasing and scoring in an 80 metre solo effort.
It wasn’t just twinkle toes stuff though – hooker Cory Walker capped the best two minutes of his life with a dummy and a burrowing line for a try, and #8 Nakai Penny demonstrated what fitness and support running can do for a team, following a winger out wide to turn potential isolation into a five-pointer.
Elsewhere, the teams wagered back and forth in the territory stakes. Nanaimo kicked out of hand decently early on. The scrum was pretty evenly matched, while both teams did okay on their own lineout throw. Both teams put a few good shots on in defence, although the VVs was obviously overall more disciplined.
Evergreen second rower Daryl Hall reminded spectators why he was in the track some in the mid-2000s, having represented Canada West in a previous iteration of Canadian representative rugby. He mopped up ball, shifted it sensibly on attack, and made a number of text-book tackles. He rounded his day out with a visit to the Sticky Wicket, really taking things back to 2003.
Men’s Premier Reserve: WRFC 69 – Nanaimo 5
It was also a bright day for Westshore’s 2nd team. They fumbled early, but then never looked back, producing a number of good tries from both forwards and backs alike. The scrum was dominant, and the lineout was tidy until late replacements did their best. The battle of the breakdown went to the home team, who blasted through the collision zone when rucking over. Despite some intermittent handling errors, there was a lot to like in how they moved the ball, carried with purpose and supported ball runners. The standout try was a jinking run by fullback Jordan Tait, who also kicked well for touch and goal.
The sight of the day was the genuine goose-step (“Campese!”) produced by Malahat wonder Tommy Lee, who enjoyed the step up to premier level. Coming up, the two men’s teams travel to Vancouver to take on the Old Boys in the final game for December.