Canada U20 Updates - May 2018

May 19 2018

Canada U20 vs Chile - JWRT 2017

U20 Black v Blue Highlights: Our View of Standout Players

The U20 Black v Blue match was the last chance to impress the coach and selectors before the final cut is made. The team have their first match together next week against a Fraser Valley U23 side, then the week after against a full BC U23 side.

Here are some observations and highlights on players that stood out.

The final was 41-12 Black and it'a always easier to pick out players on the winning team when the spread is that high. Blue started well with lots of possession inside the Black 22 but they couldn't unlock the Black defence, once Black weathered the storm they started to find their game and scored some nice tries. The player numbers were mixed up and there was no program so apologies if we got any of the names wrong, email if a correction needs to be made.

This was one of the best tries. It starts from a jinking run by Elias Ergas (#24), he was solid all game but his centre partner Kevin Vertkas (#23) was one of the player's of the match, scoring several times. They make a good partnership in the midfield. Brandon Schellenberger aka Schelly was scrum half wearing #6 not to be confused with #9 who wasn't playing scrum half. Schelly had a standout game as you'll see in the clips, in this play he touched the ball a number of times. It goes to #10 Steve Commerford who distributed well, but look at the line by Vertkas (#23) and the back hand offload, that's quality. It's back to #9 (Evan Norris perhaps?) and Schelly is in the play again. A few more phases and touched down in the corner by one of the forwards (#18). Schelly gets driven into the ground on the last pass, watching the number of times he takes a pounding from the bigger players, he's one tough scrum half. He lasted the full 80.

Here's another highlight of Schelly getting driven over the line as he takes on a couple of defenders. Black scored on a push over try on the next series of plays. Also a clip as he runs at two defenders and the sound of the hit tells you how hard the game was. I was impressed by his fearless play and distribution skills. Well done Schelly, hope they had an ice tub ready for post match recovery.

Another player who stood out was Owain Ruttan, started at #6, was moved #8 in the second half but was wearing #17. He's hard to take down giving support players that extra second to reach him. He's another player from UBC.

This next clip introduces Michael Smith wearing #27, also from UBC. He's another loose forward, started at #8, and this team is strong in loose forwards - future senior national team players. The play starts with Ruttan using his strength to give support plenty of time to arrive, it's moved through several hands but Smith is the one making the break and dishing it off to Vertkas in support. Vertkas is also from UBC, Ruttan to Smith to Vertkas, we may hear that UBC connection a few more times over the next decade. Vertkas has also played for the Maple Leaf 7s and Damian McGrath the national 7s coach was seen smiling postgame.

Final highlight features, we believe, Quentin James wearing #13 but playing #4. Quentin is the son of famous Canada second row Mike James. James usually has a few line breaks per match but was kept in check this match, what was a standout was his defence, laying in some big hits. You could close your eyes and listen to the hits being put in to know the intensity of this selection match. Quentin James kept a regular beat going.

Overall the loose forwards and midfield shone today. It's hard to evaluate the front row until they come up against a known entity but Black did score a push over try today. The halfbacks did well distributing the ball. The one area that is a concern is the kicking game, you rarely see kicking highlighted in these type of matches but it's an area that's been a problem for a while among the skill players coming through the junior programs in Canada. How many can place a perfectly weighted ball 40M downfield and out on the bounce. How many can slot a penalty from 40M out with a high percentage accuracy. You just have to remember Canada lost to USA by a point in 2016 on a 50M penalty kick. Also when playing the European and South American teams in a defensive battle, the 12-9 penalty only games, kicking is crucial.

We'll see how this year's crop of players perform, some good talent out there, intensity is good. Looking forward to the rest of May and June to see how it all comes together.

Canada U20 Inter-Squad Match Rosters: Blacks v Blues on Saturday at 3pm Shawnigan Lake School

It has been a physical camp according to some observers. Now comes the crunch time on Saturday when coaches and selectors will observe the players going head to head in a match that may determine the future for some of the players. There's little doubt the coach has made his mind up on some players but there's still room for in or out decisions based on Saturday's performance.

After the match the squad will be trimmed down and take on the Fraser Valley U23 team on May 26th in Langford. They'll play a full BC U23 side in Abbotsford on June 1st as part of the BC High School finals weekend. They then travel to the USA to play a two game series in Houston on June 12th and 16th. The winner of the series represents North America in the JWRT tournament in Romania.

1 Gavin Kratz (c)
2 Harrison Smith
3. Emerson Prior
4 Reid Davis
5 Aidan Foley
6 James O'Neill (pl)
7 Tyler Rockwell
8 Jackson Matthews
9 Josh Engelbrecht
10 Brennig Prevost
11 Jack McCarthy
12 Logan Martin-Feek
13 Seth Purdey
14 Brock Gallagher
15 James Hammond
16 Hammad Babatunde
17 Damon Adams
18 Jackson Marquardt
19 Alex Pipchuk
20 Mostyn Findlay

1 Sam Turner
2 David Stoltz
3 Stephen Mallard
4 Quentin James
5 Henry Stevenson
6 Owain Ruttan
7 Peter Ingoldsby
8 Michael Smith (pl)
9 Brandon Schellenberger (c)
10 Steve Commerford
11 Jake Lan
12 Kevin Vertgas
13 Elias Ergas
14 Evan Norris
15 Stan Blazkowski
16 Tyler Rowland
17 Ben Newhook
18 Christoph Stangl
19 Peyton Eagar
20 Ethan Hagar

Injured Tyler Wong, Spencer Cooper.
Away Will Percillier.

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