Bears Routed by Wolf Pack in Red Deer
The BC Bears put in a disappointing performance in a match where they were only able to put up two penalty kicks over 80 minutes while letting in 38 points, 28 of them in the second half. BC were in the game at half time down 10-6 but were unable to stay with the Wolf Pack in the second half.
BC lost inside centre Colby Mason early in the second half, Cully Quirk moved from wing to centre and Taylor de Souza came on to the wing.
BC started showing a lack of discipline as McRorie had a chance to keep the scoreboard ticking over on multiple penalty chances. McRorie brought the score up to 16-6, both BC infractions occured at the breakdown. BC incurred another penalty when they couldn't secure a ruck and then kicked the ball away in frustration to allow the ref to march McRorie into kicking range, 19-6. The game fell apart for BC when one of the backline players threw a lazy pass that was intercepted for a length of the field try, 26-6. Captain Mike O'Toole then picked up a yellow card for an off the ball incident called by the touch judge, BC would play short with just over 10 minutes left.
BC had some attacking opportunities but they would inevitably knock the ball on and Wolf Pack would counter attack. The Wolf Pack turned one such counter attack into another try, 31-6. The final Wolf Pack try came off another BC error, a long kick from outside the 22 that went straight into touch, from the ensuing lineout quick hands to the outside for a score against a dispirited BC team.
Overall a poor performance from the Bears, too many handling errors, a lack of discipline and generally they looked like a team with no direction or game plan. The Wolf Pack played a patient game, strong defence and just waited for BC to make the errors, which they did. Gordon McRorie was probably the best player on the field and his leadership and game management was evident in the result.
The return match takes place on July 27th in Kelowna. MATCH VIDEO LINK
BC Name Match 23 for Weekend's Bears v Wolf Pack Contest
[ed. note from the BCRU that even though the match list was in the manner of a starting 23, the actual starting lineup may change before Saturday. We'll post the revised starting roster when it's available.]
It's a mixed sort of team from the new Bears coaching duo of James Thompson (UBCOB) and Simon Fitzgerald (Nanaimo). We first took a look at who is missing and compared it to our BC All Star team list we put together in April. Unanimous front row picks Cali Martinez (UBC) and Chris Taylor (Ravens) are missing as are top second row picks Bryan Moylett (Ravens) and James Carson (UBC). In the back row Ravens Connor Hamilton missing, James O'Neill of UVic would be Wolf Pack eligible, Cole Mosychuk doesn't show up. At scrum half Jorden Sandover-Best of Ravens and Sam Fowler of Nanaimo missing, at #10 Grady Bowd another possible Wolf Pack selection. For the outside backs Elias Ergas, Crosby Stewart, Jake Lan, Mike Adibe, Brennig Prevost all names mentioned in the All Star selection are missing, the biggest name missing perhaps is Aaron McLelland who was a unanimous choice at fullback. In the centres Ben Lesage part of the national team, Quinn Ngawati with the U20 team, Jared Stephens firefighting, Luke Bradley not listed, neither is Johnny Franklin. So a lot of talent missing, some perhaps due to work commitments.
The good news is a number of names mentioned in the All Star list are on the team. Both Tom Larder (Nanaimo) and James Kelly (Rowers) were mentioned at the hooker position and are suiting up. John Braddock (CW) and Bryce Worden (Burnaby) claimed backup positions at loosehead and tighthead and were names mentioned on the All Star list, they come in behind Nik Hildebrand (Burnaby) and Neil Courtney (Capilano). It looks like a good front row and a strong replacement crew as well. The second row may be a bit under powered, Botchar played behind James Carson and Liam Doll at UBC and played blindside flanker for Curry's regional team this year. Jason Gagnier is a good journeyman second row for Westshore. There's only one loose forward/second row backup and that's young Zephyr Melnyk from Nanaimo. Michael O'Toole is listed starting at blindside flanker but was chosen on the All Star list at second row, he may see the game out at that position if Melnyk is brought into the backrow. Coaches have decided to go with four backline subs which may indicate BC are gearing towards a high tempo expansive game but if it slows down to a possession game of hard yards BC may rue the lack of another big body in the reserves.
The loose forwards feature a couple of names from the All Star list, Nathan Stewart and Michael O'Toole, they've mixed positions up a bit with Stewart taking #8 and O'Toole moving to blindside. Connor McCann from Meralomas will feature at the openside spot. Reid Watkins at #9 received an All Star mention, BC are rich in scrum-halves this season. At #10 Robert Jones led the Ravens to the Premier title this year. On the outside two Nanaimo players, Cathal Long a tall, lanky winger who played at UVic previously and Taylor de Souza who spent some time in NZ honing his skills, both excellent 7s players as well. Colby Mason and Mike Nieuwenhuysen are accomplished centres who are proven at this level. Neil MacLaine from Burnaby finishes out the squad at #15. There's some pacey backline players on the bench who will likely be used to up the tempo later in the match Brandon Schellenberger from CW, Gino Paolella from Burnaby, Sean Hase from Ravens and Cully Quirke who played for UBC and the Ravens before going to Queen's University.
1 Nikolas Hildebrand – Burnaby Lake RFC (Nanaimo, BC)
2 Tom Larder – Nanaimo (Richmond, Noth Yorkshire, UK)
3 Neil Courtney – Capilano (North Vancouver, BC)
4 Callum Botchar – UBC (Vancouver, BC)
5 Jason Gagnier – Westshore (Smithers, BC)
6 Michael O’Toole – Burnaby Lake RFC (Delta, BC)
7 Connor McCann – Meralomas (Belleville, ON)
8 Nathan Stewart – Castaway Wanderers RFC (Williams Lake, BC)
9 Reid Watkins – Burnaby Lake RFC (Okotoks, AB)
10 Robert Jones – UBCOB Ravens (Langley, BC)
11 Cathal Long – Nanaimo (Nanaimo, BC)
12 Colby Mason – UBCOB Ravens (Moranbah, AUS)
13 Michael Nieuwenhuysen – James Bay Athletic Association (Brampton, ON)
14 Taylor de Souza – Nanaimo (Ladysmith, BC)
15 Neil MacLaine – Burnaby Lake RFC (Omagh, IRE)
16 James Kelly – Vancouver Rowing Club (Surrey, BC)
17 John Braddock – Castaway Wanderers RFC (Victoria, Lower Hutt, NZ)
18 Bryce Worden – Burnaby Lake RFC (Sussex, NB)
19 Zephyr Melnyk – Nanaimo (Gabriola Island, BC)
20 Brandon Schellenberger – Castaway Wanderers RFC (Victoria, BC)
21 Gino Paolella – Burnaby Lake RFC (Langley, BC)
22 Sean Hase – UBCOB Ravens (Vancouver, BC)
23 Colm Quirke – Queens University (Helsinki, Finland) from BC Rugby Union
Vancouver, BC – June 25, 2019: BC Rugby is excited to announce the travelling team for the BC Bears ahead of their Best of the West match against the Prairie Wolfpack, which kicks off this Saturday at 6:00pm (PT) in Red Deer, Alberta. The match will be the first of a two-legged tie, with the home leg taking place on July 27th at the Apple Bowl Stadium in Kelowna.
Head Coach James Thompson has selected a team full of new faces, with only John Braddock (Castaway Wanderers RFC) and Michael Nieuwenhuysen (James Bay AA) returning from the 2018 BC Bears squad. There are a number of other players who have cut their teeth in BC Rep Teams in recent years including Brandon Schellenberger (Castaway Wanderers RFC), Gino Paolella (Burnaby Lake RFC), Taylor de Souza and Zephyr Melnyk (both Nanaimo Hornets RFC). In a year National Programs have called up many players ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Tokyo and World Rugby U20 Trophy, this is an opportunity for players to make an impact and get noticed for 2020 and beyond.
“Over the four training sessions, between the two squads, we have seen around 50 different faces,” said Thompson, speaking the weekend before the clash. “Both the training sessions have been high in intensity and certainly did not lack commitment. Now it is about the finer details and I am confident with the 23 selected we can address these quickly and accurately”
“While we do have a number of really experienced campaigners in the team, this in general terms is a very young squad, and one were I have no doubt will be able to express themselves on the pitch. We have a mobile pack with a big backline, so we are hoping we can move the Wolfpack around the pitch with our big ball runners”
“All in all, it is a fantastic opportunity for a lot these players to finally represent BC for not only their clubs perspective but also family and friends. In total, we have 11 clubs represented in the matchday 23, while over 14 different clubs were involved in the training sessions. For me and the other coaches, this is as important an element as anything else”.
“We are very excited to get down to business on Saturday and know we can come away with a victory.”
Last year’s tie with the Wolfpack saw the Bears lose the opening match by just three points in the dying moments of the first fixture in Alberta. However, bolstered by the strong home support at Klahanie Park, the team produced a strong home leg victory, 39-20, to win the tie on aggregate. The teams would wind up facing each other for a third time in the bronze medal match at the 2018 Canadian Rugby Championships, back in Calgary. The Bears were looking to make amends for not securing a place in the final and produced another impressive performance to win 48-36. With this history of competitive fixtures between the BC Bears and Prairie Wolfpack, there is plenty to look forward to when the Best of the West kicks off this weekend.
BC’s senior women’s team played four split-squad matches with the Wolfpack at the women’s Best of the West tournament at Kelowna’s City Park earlier this month, with the hosts securing a four-game sweep of their Albertan opponents. The Bears will look to replicate the success of their counterparts in the men’s tie.
The game is set to kick off at 6:00pm PT in Red Deer and will be available to stream live on Rugby Alberta’s Facebook page. BC Rugby will have updates on our social media channels as well as a post-match report.