On The Road Again: Ravens 33 - Pacific Pride 26
by Peter MacDonald
The Ravens and their west side club mates, the Lomas and Kats, were all sent packing by the Park Board this week to allow some field maintenance to be done so it was off to Langley on short notice thanks to the generosity of Langley RFC and the hard work of Ravens’ club president Frank Fekete. First the Rippers played a hard fought game with Langley ending with a crowd pleasing come from behind win for the home side, 40-33. Next up were the two touring premier sides who put on a top class show before the appreciative sun splashed crowd.
The Ravens were slow out of the gate and handed the Pride a try two minutes in. The Raven kickoff went straight to touch. At the scrum centre the Ravens infringed. After the Pride kicked to touch their lineout win morphed into a few quick hits forward and voila a 5-0 Pride lead and a first wake up call for the Ravens. To their credit the Ravens answered with a try shortly after through their forwards but they received a second wake up call not long after. A Raven up and under was fielded by Pride winger Alan Berros who eluded a couple of would be tacklers and then moved the ball wide left where the easy overlap try was on, 12-7 Pride at 10 minutes.
The Pride were up for the game and were taking it to the Ravens with big forwards Den Ouden, Miller and Melnyk dishing it out in contact and with #10 James Thiel smoothly running the backfield. But the Ravens defended well at this stage and were able to see out the pressure. For good measure and as a final wake up call, when the Ravens forwards were approaching an attacking lineout in the Pride’s half, scrum half Alex Ball then encouraged the boys to “f’ in get their heads into it”. That seemed to work as the Ravens began to raise their game, enjoy more possession and put the Pride under pressure. Two tries before the half were the result, one just and one not very just.
First, with a Raven overlap on, the Pride fullback was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on. The penalty kick to touch and lineout set up a maul from close range which inexorably crossed the line, 14-12 Ravens at 33 minutes. Then, just before half time with the Pride gaining possession from a ruck deep in their own end, the Ravens infringed at the ruck and the referee signalled for and called out (a penalty) advantage. Thiel decided to drive a raking 80 metre kick into the Ravens 22 which was easily fielded by Aaron McLelland who passed to Noah Bain who then cut back through a first line of defenders and outpaced the pursuit for a try that would have disheartened the Pride for sure. And, bearing in mind that no advantage was ever gained by the Pride and that it should have been brought back for the penalty, it was a very harsh outcome for the visitors bringing the score to 21-12 Ravens at the half.
The early second half was intense with lots of heavy contact before the Ravens finally broke through at 52 minutes with winger Aga Ligamy finishing off a long goal line attack by cutting back sharply and taking a strong line to split the posts and dive in, 28-12. Jesse MacKail, Jacob Ikeda, James Carson and Joe Locke featured in the forwards’ goal line pressure and kept it up with others for the next while until Locke scored a final Raven try from a #8 pick at 60 minutes, 33-12 Ravens.
The Pride, with a full substitution having been made at 55 minutes, took it to the Ravens in the last 10 minutes. Ball and Ligamy were forced to make a saving tackle together at 72 minutes with a Pride try clearly on and then Pride prop Dan Cooper showed his power and handling skill as he punched in tries at 75 and 80 minutes to close out the game.
Locke and Bain were players of the game in my book for the Ravens. Locke was a beast running with the ball and Bain, finally getting some space and service, showed his class and speed. Cooper and Berros stood out for the Pride but what stood out the most for me with the Pride was that their play raised the pace and intensity of the game making it a quality game to play and watch, as the Langley president mentioned in his post game remarks.
It was a good day with fine weather, kind hospitality, an appreciative Ravens’ club, an appreciative audience and good cheer all around. Langley has a new second field coming on with a clubhouse and training dome to come. Not to mention its mens’ teams, womens’ teams, juniors, mnis and feeder school relationships. Thanks again for hosting us guys! Best wishes from the Ravens.