Westshore Men's Premier and Reserve Sides Wrap up Season; Women's Premier and Men's 3rd Div Continue Into Playoffs
by Clancy McDonnell
Men’s Premier: WRFC 20 – JBAA 39
Westshore’s Velox Valhallians finished their season with a trip to James Bay on Saturday. They didn’t set the world on fire in the first half, but played a good last 40 to close out the season.
The Bays got into the right spots in the first half through their own decent play as well as some gifts from the VVs – penalties and a couple of ill-advised offloads. It seems that in this league any team worth their salt can crack the line, provided they spend a bit of time in the opposition quarter. The home side duly notched a number of tries. It took until late in the half for the VVs to mount a serious challenge, and when they did it was through the flexing of a 5-metre scrum.
The second half was better for the visitors, as they scored another couple of tries. The VV scrum probably had the edge over the Bays all day, in an enjoyable duel for the purists, although the home side’s lineout was probably the more accurate. James Bay had one more try in them as well, and the final score-line justly represented their dominance in the first half.
It brings to a close a decent season back in the Premier League for the Westshore club. The final standing (9th of 11) certainly doesn’t satisfy, but by other metrics it’s been a positive year. They fielded two teams right through the year, despite the injuries and other absences that all clubs experience. The Premier Reserve team was close to making the playoffs, which demonstrates not just depth in numbers but also in performance.
The top side was blown apart a couple of times in March, but played patches of competitive rugby against most teams through the season, and took down a couple of higher ranked teams. While tries early on in the season were hard to come by (with a number being intercept/lucky bounce types), they bore some serious fruit in the back half of the season from their attacking pattern and verve.
A number of players have done particularly well. Up front, veteran loose-head Toby Berg was joined by former Vikes hooker Casey Reed to form the bedrock of the front row. Foster Dewitt, whether at #1, #5 or his preferred #6, has carried a big load, and shapes as a long term high performer. Open-side flanker Kyle Whyte has the right mixture of mean and coachable in him. Fellow young buck Aidan McCleary, now broadening his experience in country New South Wales, is a club junior with a similarly bright future. Clay Panga’s competitive juices are as virile as ever.
Behind the scrum the flat-lander Mark Discombe joined the party late and promptly made the #9 jersey his own (as well as kicking for goal well). Tyrone Gersch played a good hand from fly-half. Whether wearing 12 or 13 on his back, Taylor McGuire fired on all cylinders at times, and was dominant when he did. Siti Nacoko was a handful for the opposition – surely the most lethal runner in the league. Jordan Tait’s open field kicking improved and was instrumental at times, and he also displayed a knack for finding the line.
Onwards and upwards.
Men’s Premier Reserve: WRFC 15 – JBAA 21
A first half score-line of 21 – zip for the hosts wasn’t super pleasing. They mauled well from the lineout, while the VVs had trouble getting their attitude right in defense. The second half saw a good response, with three tries scored by the visitors (how about that Mike Collins – Allen Hall – Kevin Sommerfeldt axis on attack?). Ultimately there wasn’t enough time though. Had there been another five minutes then perhaps the result would be different, but you can’t fault the home side for opening up a fine lead then holding on to record victory.
Women’s Premier: WRFC 53 – Capilano 24
There was a return to form for the Valkyries, smarting from their loss the week before. They approach the finals looking to retain their title.
It was a good day for front rowers. In the premier game prop Neil Hagerty ‘found himself in the centres’ and finished off a good attacking foray with a try. But the moment of the day was Phil Erb in the Premier Reserve game. The big man lumbered onto an inside ball from Sommerfeldt, and opened it up all the way into 3rd gear. Despite giving the cover defence plenty of time to haul him down, he bustled his way 20 metres to score under the posts. It was a thing of beauty. James Bay hosted well – perhaps the juiciest burger served all year. There was also beer.
Coming up this Saturday, the Mighty 3rd XV play Chilliwack at Juan de Fuca at 1 p.m. in a quarter final. The Valkyries have a bye. I’m told the 2nd Div Women are also done for the season.