Ravens Win 6th Rounsefell Cup 16-10 over UBC - Report by Peter MacDonald“ You’ve got to get your first tackle in early, even if it’s late.”
Ray Gravelle (Llanelli and Wales)
On a sunny warm day in Abbotsford the UBC Old Boys and UBC met to contest the BC Premier League Championship, the Rounsefell Cup. With identical 17-3 records there was no real favourite and a tight game was expected. Chris Assmus, the appointed referee, had flown back from a Friday night MLR game in San Diego to take the whistle. Would UBC gain its fourth straight title or would this be the year of the Raven?
As fullback Aaron McLelland fielded the high floating kickoff he was rocked with a hard tackle. Assmus called the penalty but UBC had got its first tackle in, not early or late but high. Although the two clubs have good relations and there were many friends and former teammates on the field there would be no love lost in this game and tackling and defence would ultimately determine the outcome.
At 15 minutes the Ravens took the lead on a penalty kick from distance by Adam McQueen following a UBC offside. After a UBC missed penalty kick, McLelland, as we’ve seen so many times over the last two years, took the narrowest of gaps in the UBC backs, angled right and sprinted 40 metres down the right touchline and under the posts untouched for the Ravens’ only try of the day at the 25 minute mark. The guy must have a force field around him, it happens so often. Then at 35 minutes UBC’s talisman, Theo Sauder, finished off a period of UBC pressure with an angled kick to the left corner flag area which was grounded for a UBC try, 10-7 Ravens, which remained the score at half time.
UBC had had more possession than the Ravens and had the Ravens under pressure more consistently but the Ravens were tackling well and gradually came into the game on offence as well. For UBC, Sauder was asking questions of the Ravens defence but either a final pass didn’t work out or a desperate tackle was made. For the Ravens, Ben Grant was running straight and hard from inside centre and hooker Nathan Kendrick was dragging tacklers forward at times. Kendrick was carded midway through the half but the Ravens sucked it up on defence led by flanker Karl Moran. Late in the half UBC opted for a set scrum 30 metres from the Ravens’ line rather than a shot at goal or a kick to touch. The possession tested the Ravens but did not bear fruit for UBC. Finally, a UBC try appeared to be on near the end of the half when winger Cole Keffer had clear sailing down the right sideline but McLelland caught him from behind and brought him down with an ankle tap tackle to preserve the Raven lead.
At 50 minutes UBC prop Joe Sourisseau made a lineout catch and moved through a gap in the Ravens’ lineout to the Ravens’ line. After the Ravens were penalized at a five metre scrum UBC again opted for a scrummage rather than a kick at goal. The Ravens pack surged, pushed UBC off the ball and Jordan Sandover-Best cleared to touch. At 65 minutes referee Assmus conferred with his assistant and, after a warning to UBC’s Owain Ruttan, the Ravens’ #8 Connor Haminton was binned and Sauder slotted the penalty kick to tie the game10-10. Again UBC had more ball at this stage but sound team tackling by the Ravens was keeping UBC at bay. And, while Hamilton was off, the Ravens counter-rucked at a tackle and swung the ball quickly to winger Sean Ferguson who was high tackled by a UBC player. The left footed McQueen then put through a money kick from near the right sideline for a 13-10 Raven lead.
At 70 minutes just outside the Raven 22 UBC again opted for a scrummage following a Raven infraction. Garret Garbe then forced a UBC knock-on ending UBC’s ball. In the waning stages Karl Moran and prop Chris Taylor were ailing and Nick Waggott (having played 80 minutes in the reserve game) and Curtis Delmonico subbed in. Soon a Delmonico ramble in UBC territory ended with a high tackle which sent off Ruttan and moved the score to 16-10 Ravens after another McQueen penalty kick. A converted try by UBC could win it for them and there was plenty of added time. After a multi-player skirmish the Ravens were penalized and with the kick to touch UBC settled into the Raven end. Sean Ferguson stopped one flourish with a well taken tackle behind the gain line on Fraser Hurst, Garbe disrupted the attack on two occasions and finally and fittingly a Nick Waggott tackle forced a UBC knock on to end the game and start the Raven celebration.
Despite playing 20 minutes down a man the Ravens through steady hard tackling did not let UBC run across their line with the ball in hand. Everyone pitched in on defense but the tackle counts of the flankers Moran and Simone Etheve in particular were big as usual. McQueen was top drawer with his goal kicking and McLelland tacked on a bit of his magic.
UBC played very well. There was not much in it. But they couldn’t break down the Ravens in the end. Congratulations to them on a fine season. It is not easy to maintain such a high standard year after year. They will be back in it next year for sure.
The Ravens suffered significant injuries both this year and last to some of their core players but they persevered to the season’s end playing a tough brand of rugby that saw them give up an average of only 12 points per game. This game was more of the same. The Ravens coaches James Thompson, Callum Morrison and Chris Taylor deserve a lot of credit for the success as does club president Frank Fekete and his supporting cast of volunteers.
Mike Gough, Burnaby’s hardnosed captain, after the semi-final tilt announced to the post-match crowd in the clubhouse “Much as it kills me to say this, I think this year may be the year of the Raven”. Looks like he was right in the end.
Rippers Lose Final to Lomas 22-20
This game was played in the heat of the day and both teams went at it hard in an epic battle. First half tries by Kienan Collie, James Thompson and Matty Suez staked the Rippers to a 17-12 halftime lead. The Lomas had scored from a nice run by their fullback Tillian and from a front rower on a pick and go. The teams were evenly matched and were raising their games to match one another.
At the second half kickoff unfortunately captain Tristan Clironomos was the first man up to tackle and on the hit he was knocked back and out forcing him out of the game. At 60 minutes, with the score at 17-15 Rippers, the game turned quickly. The Rippers had been the stronger pack so when a Loma defender committed a deliberate knock-on near his line in front of the posts the Rips passed on the penalty kick and opted for a scrummage. The Rips won the ball but on the #8 pick the first pass to the scrum half was intercepted and run the length of the field for a try and a lead the Lomas would never give up. A penalty kick by the Rips closed the gap to 22-20 but the Lomas saw it out from there.
Wes Lee, the #11 and Tillian stood out for the Lomas. Matty Suez, Nick Waggott and the rest of the Ripper pack were solid in defense regularly dropping the Loma crash runners. Benz Henriksen set up the Suez try with a penetrating run in the centres. This was the first loss for the Rips since Christmas and it hurt as they were so close and had put so much into this game and the three week playoff run. The Lomas reserve squad were worthy winners as they had played to a high standard all year long and were good sports to boot.
A shout out goes to the Rippers coaches John Higgins and Scott James for a job well done and to the senior players who provided leadership down the stretch Dimitri Gotsopoulos, the Henriksen brothers Kol and Benz and Nick Waggott. Looking forward to next year.