Ravens Top Seattle 59-7 and Rippers Advance With Epic Win Over UBC Braves 19-17
by Peter MacDonald
A doubleheader of playoff games for the UBC Old Boys got underway early at UBC with the Ravens’ reserves, known as the Rippers, taking on the always fit and well drilled UBC Braves. UBC’s big pack displayed power in the sets early and continued to dominate them and win penalties from them all game long. At the same time the UBC backs flashed their speed and for a Ripper supporter there was concern that this was a step up in class and things might not end well. UBC turned their early superiority into points at the 20 minute mark scoring in the left corner and the difficult conversion was made, 7-0 UBC.
For the rest of the half UBC had more of the ball and the Rippers were for some time down two men with yellow cards. But the Rippers played solid defence and the UBC backs suffered a few too many handling errors to take advantage so the score remained 7-0 at the half.
Play evened out for the next 20 minutes till UBC moved the score to 10-0 at 60 minutes. Playing into the wind and needing to score twice, things were looking a bit rough for the Rippers. But as the game wore on the Rippers finally began to deprive UBC of possession, string some phases of their own together and make the students defend. That paid dividends at 70 minutes after a number of phases ended with fly half Cameron Denhoff-Ball crashing in, 10-7 UBC. That was quickly followed with a similar buildup finished off by a driving Bryn Tucker, 12-10 Rippers at 75 minutes. Thing were now looking good for the Rippers but then they lost their own lineout deep in their own territory and saw the UBC #7 stretch over the line and score what could have been a dagger, 17-12 UBC.
There were three minutes to go and from the kickoff the UBC catcher was turned enough in contact by Andrew Hamilton to allow a Ripper steal at the ensuing ruck. And with the patient, keep it simple template that had produced the previous two tries the Rippers went to work again methodically driving in tight and in the inside backs to the goal line and a final try from veteran centre Kelepi Gucake at full time tying the score at 17-17. Sean Hase put the convert through breaking the UBC team’s hearts and sending his team through for a semi-final next week at Burnaby.
Hase directed the attack from scrum half and everyone showed a lot of heart, toughness and composure particularly at the end. Jake Wolfman made strong tackles and good runs, Nick Waggott fought through injury to lead the pack, the locks Liam Flanaghan and Rob O’Herlihy carried the ball well and without error and centre Michael Nevin played a strong hand as well. UBC will be disappointed as, apart from some mishandling, they looked like winners for much of the game. But it was a big win for a deserving team in the end.
The Premier game on the other hand was over early. After 15 minutes three Raven tries were on the board and at 19-0 down Seattle did not look like coming back. No disrespect to centre Colby Mason who scored a first half hat trick or to the opposition but in the early going the Seattle backline had more generous holes than you’ll find in a pair of designer jeans and it was easy picking from close range. Standouts on the day included Cam McWilliam and Nathan Kendrick carrying the ball well in the forwards and Mason and Aaron McLelland in the backs.
Dim Gotsopoulos had a strong outing helping to lead a dominant pack in the sets and showing his skills with a back of the hand pass to Bestie as well as extending his foot to volley a low pass on to the next man a skill he developed during his hacky sack phase. Lock Bryan Moylet and McLelland had some telepathy going with Moylett laying down a grubber for McLelland to recover for a try and McLelland later lofting an angled kick to Moylett who was seagulling out at left wing. Jorden Sandover Best ran hard all day and was the glue guy until he finally got a rare rest with substitutions coming in at the three quarter mark. Jake Wolfman carried on his good day getting out on the break in attack a few times at right wing and scoring the final try.
Next week is a semi-final matchup with UBC, a repeat of last year’s final, sure to be a good game, one that both sides have been anticipating. See you there.