Ravens hold on for the win Over UBC: U16 & U19 Teams in Provincial Finals December 9th in Victoria
by Peter MacDonald
On a chilly but perfect day for rugby the Ravens were true to their recent form: play excellent error free rugby for 40 to 60 minutes then make things interesting with a slight or more than slight loss of form near the end. But hey, a win is a win and you had to know UBC would make a push from down 24-0 after 45 minutes. In fact, it was good defending by the Ravens in the last five minutes that kept UBC from scoring near the posts, leading to a kick at goal from wide right that faded rather than drew in left, and gave the Ravens a well-deserved one point win.
The Ravens produced a textbook first half of rugby on defence: solid tackling, often beyond the gain line, some big hits, tying up mauls, getting the upper hand in some sets and dealing well with UBC’s high tempo attack. On offence, there were three tries the first coming at 15 minutes when from a set scrum near the UBC line #8 Conor Hamilton predictably picked and went blind right, Jorden Sandover-Best flared right with him and fed winger Sean Ferguson who crossed in for the try. Then a big Raven set scrum at 30 minutes produced a penalty, a kick to touch and lineout, maul and swing to centre Michael Neven who drove in one on one against his man for the second try. And finally, just before half time, after a UBC knock on, Aaron McLelland switched the attack with a long pass left to lock Brian Moylett who laid down a left footed grubber on the run forcing UBC to clear the ball to touch under pressure. From the lineout Chris Taylor took the ball into contact and from a quick ruck Moylett powered in under the posts 19-0 Ravens at the half. Job very well done!
Any hopes of a second half change of fortune for UBC were dashed immediately as they were penalized for handling in a ruck giving the Ravens another opportunity to attack from a 5 metre lineout. After a lengthy series of drives and mauls near the line a fast moving Raven maul ultimately crashed in , 24-0 at 45 minutes. Not a score UBC had seen for many years. But it only lasted 10 minutes which was when the UBC scrum half Will Percillier took off on his first run of the game setting up pressure in the Raven end and a UBC try, 24-7 at 55 minutes. Three more UBC tries were to follow. Fullback Fraser Hurst accounted for the first two. He swerved wide on the last Raven defender with an excellent burst to score down the right sideline at 63 minutes and then he drew a penalty try in the left corner when he was high tackled and forced out at the corner flag at 75 minutes. But the Ravens had their own spell of ball in between which resulted in a penalty against UBC for not rolling away which was slotted by McLelland at 72 minutes. Finally, at the end, after sustained pressure from UBC at the Raven line UBC punched in a pick and go try to make the score 27-26 Ravens where it remained to the delight of the Ravens after the conversion just missed.
Paul Ahn was on fire laying out a couple of runners with big hits and pumping up the team. Hamilton, Jon Phelan, David O’Donoghue and Chris Taylor were also front and centre on defence as were the centres Connor Finn and Neven as usual. Hurst, James Carson and Jacob Ikeda were prominent for UBC as was Percillier who apparently is off to an academy team in France after Christmas.
The Ravens go into the break with four wins in a row and are sitting 4th of 12 in the standings. The Rippers too have been in good form also sitting in fourth place and winning over UBC 22-7 with the addition this week of scrum half Jamie MacKenzie in from Marseilles and the RWC repechage tournament.
Like the Ravens’ premier team the U16 and U19 teams won nailbiters at UBC on Sunday, 19-17 against Caps and 19-18 against Burnaby. Both teams move on to BC final games next week in Victoria at MacDonald Park at 1pm and 2:30pm on Sunday. The U19 game involved a comeback against a strong Burnaby team which had controlled possession in the first half and gone out to an 18-5 lead in the second half. Strong tackling in the forwards, feisty play by the scrum half Nate and smooth handling in the backs brought the Ravens back into the game. A late try by fly half Jake Bourne who sliced in from 15 metres out and dove in under the posts brought the score to 18-17 Burnaby. Thomas Kirkwood calmly slotted the convert for the win and there was joy in Mudville.
Good luck to the Junior teams next week. See you in January.