Ravens Close out Win Against Lomas 30-15
by Peter MacDonald
On a rainy November day when we all might have preferred to be in Bermuda with Kol and Ben Henrikson and David O’Donoghue, the Ravens didn’t miss a beat in the first half of its west side derby against the Lomas. Despite the conditions both sides handled the ball well though it was the Ravens who had it for much of the first half in which they staked themselves to a 22-0 lead.
Two tries from close range by flanker Dan Cervino were the result of the Ravens pressuring the Lomas in Loma territory for long spells in the first 25 minutes. The following two tries were more expansive. Chris Taylor was tackled at midfield but managed to backhand the ball up as he was going down and Aaron McLelland was able to pluck it at its peak and take off. Fifty metres later with a few tacklers beaten and a run down the right sideline McLelland touched down.
Then at 40 minutes from a ruck Connor Hamilton stood to the left, received a pass and with his back to the opposition like a post in basketball laid it off to a crossing runner, centre Connor Finn, who fended his man and dished one handed to Graham Turner for the try. Apart from a couple of good rambles from Will Baker and Shawn Mercier the Lomas hadn’t shown much but one had the distinct impression that early on the Lomas had shown the Ravens too much respect and that if some belief could creep in they might do some damage.
Perhaps the halftime talk spurred the Lomas on or perhaps some complacency or fatigue hit the Ravens but the first 25 minutes of the second half was all Lomas. Their big locks, Hank McQueen and Dan Wigley were pounding forward, scrum half Thomas Viljoen was pulling all the right levers and #10 Isaac Winter was passing and kicking at goal well. By 53 minutes it was 22-10 and then, after the Ravens had lost their own lineout at midfield, the Lomas had an 8 minute spell of possession which ended with McLelland being binned at 61 minutes and a try shortly after which brought the score to a converted try difference at 22-15 with 15 minutes to go. Déjà vu was the operative word at this point. It was crunch time if we needed a cliché.
Last week against the Rowers things got out of hand near the end with the Rowers laying on late tries while prop and player-coach Chris Taylor for one looked on helplessly having been subbed out with a comfortable 34-0 lead. This time Taylor saw out the 80 minutes and he, more than anybody, took on some leadership, showing tactical sense and passion by driving forward consistently into contact and producing the ball soundly time after time. Keeping the ball tight and keeping it simple with no errors paid dividends with a penalty goal and a try at the final whistle by lock Jessy Lee who crashed through out wide into standing water in the in goal area to seal the deal.
There were lots of good performances from the Ravens: centres Michael Nevin and Finn ran hard and tackled well, flankers Jake Wolfman and Cervino did a job, Jessy Lee was clearing out and tackling all over the field, Robert Jones was solid at #10 for the first time and Connor Hamilton, a constant in the backrow, captained the second half, won a key lineout late in the game and played his usual hard game.
There is a healthy parity in the Premier league it now appears with every team capable of a win against any other team. Recent Raven games have shown the importance of winning set pieces, particularly lineouts, in order to establish possession for what are often long periods of time. Small lapses can turn into big problems and no lead is safe, which makes for a good league competition.
The Ravens get a well-deserved rest till November 24 when they host Westshore at Jericho. Good luck to Canada at the repechage tournament starting on Sunday.