No Rust on Ravens: Ravens 48 - CW 14
by Peter MacDonald
The Ravens last played four weeks ago on February 2nd, Groundhog Day. The groundhog must have seen its shadow that day as our balmy early winter turned into a late freeze that seemed like an eternity for the Ravens’ coaches, players and supporters. So the question arose, “would a four week layoff be a problem?” Apparently not!
From the kickoff reception the Ravens moved quickly up field keeping it tight along the right sideline. With the ball moving left through the backs for the first time it was an orthodox fullback in between the centres. Aaron McLelland breezed through the defending centres, sidestepped the last defender and scored at the three minute mark raising more questions. For CW players it was “Remind me, are we man marking?” “Did we not just talk about that guy?” And amongst the readers of BCRN: “What about that pundit who had the Ravens as an underdog?”
But CW then responded with a move to the Ravens 10 metre line where a bungled Raven lineout gave CW a prime opportunity when the bouncing ball was snatched by a CW forward and it looked like a quick reply was in the offing. Not to be, as a good long spell of Raven defending kept CW out. And that pretty much ended CW’s pushback for the entire first half.
Five more Raven tries in the half were to follow. First, flanker Cam McWilliam rambled 60 metres after an inside pass from Chris Taylor setting up a sure try for McLelland who chose to spread the wealth at the doorstep firing a long high pass back inside to an open Jorden Sandover-Best for the try. Bestie then finished off the next try from a dominant lineout, maul, pick and go sequence with a final dive in. More Raven pressure saw Connor Hamilton draw two heavy tacklers while he made the final pass to right winger Nolan McAllister who scored in the corner. Then centre Colby Mason got away for two late tries, the first a long run down the left sideline and the second finishing, in the left corner as well, a counterattack off a CW knockon bringing the score to 36-0 after 35 minutes.
There might have been even a seventh try but, after seeing their CW pack pushed off its own ball at a set at the Raven 22, the CW coaches moved ahead their planned half time forward substitutions of Djustice Sears-Duru (and Riley ilnicki?) at the next opportunity where they immediately settled things down at a Raven attacking set scrum.
There was no second half swoon by the Ravens as both teams added two more tries. Luke Bradley and Nathan Stewart scored for CW and Brian Moylett and Kol Henrikson for the Ravens. Kol showed that his Idaho State 800 metre speed and endurance were still with him at as he gained separation at the 67th minute after an inside pass from Grant Crowell. In garbage time referee Chris Assmus carded Chris Taylor for dissent. Unable to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement Chris served out the rest of the game under the posts at the mountain end.
There was not much that didn’t go well for the Ravens. They had the upper hand in the sets, stole some lineout ball and won their own, and handled the ball and ran well. Robert Jones at #10 had a good outing as did Dim Gotsopoulos who showed his left arm fend and right hand offload when needed. Brian Moylett had an excellent aerial game at the lineout and when receiving kickoffs where his boosters timed things perfectly getting him up like a crack cheerleading squad. His ground game was good too laying down three useful left footed grubbers. He may need to show his chip kick soon to avoid predictability.
CW did not have their “A game” on this day and it appears the Ravens did. We’ll have to wait another three weeks to see if that was really the case with a visit to Burnaby on March 23.