Ravens Take Westside Tilt: Ravens 31 Lomas 10 – Match Report & Photos
by Peter MacDonald
A good crowd was out on a pleasant afternoon at the Lomas Connaught Park to take in the latest round in the longstanding rivalry between the two Kitsilano based clubs. The early season form of both clubs was unclear going in so this game was of interest to help assess the current state of affairs in the two clubs. While the game might not have been a Picasso, a lot was likely learned by all.
After 30 minutes it was 5-3 Ravens and neither team had been able to establish significant phases of play built on solid ball retention. Defensive pressure, mishandling, penalties, kicking and inconsistent support at the breakdown all contributed to a long choppy run of play. The Raven try at 7 minutes was initiated at an attacking lineout where a front wind set up a couple of rucks and once #10 Jasper Mellish had the ball in hand he waited for a backfield dummy run to unsettle the approaching defenders before he laid down a well-placed grubber easily touched down by centre Colby Mason for the try. A tidy bit of work.
Despite the lack of continuity, both sides were doing some good work. The Loma # 8, 9, 10 combination was showing its class. #8 Wes Lee was only going down with a gang tackle, scrum half Paddy Kirwin was providing good service and fly half Ted OLeary was pinning the Ravens back with his kicking. Ravens captain David ODonoghue was raising his game in all facets being prominent going forward with conviction with the ball, in the tackle and when clearing out. Scrum half Robbie Jones was humming, giving quick service on the money whenever he could.
The game broke open for the Ravens with three tries in the last 8 minutes of the half when finally the Ravens began to string some phases together and to put the Lomas under pressure in their own end. The first two tries came from set scrums near the line where flanker Jacob Ikeda and then #8 Brian Moylett picked up and drove in. The third began with winger Mark Wandeto and Moylett threatening in the left corner and then quick ball to the right corner where Sean Hase had some space to finish with ease, 26-3 at the half.
The second half brought one try to each side, some substitutions after the 50 minute mark and a late and very long spell of Loma pressure inside the Ravens 22 metre area which the Ravens ultimately were able to defend successfully. The Loma try at 50 minutes was set up with some good phases switching the point of attack and ending with one of their forwards driving in low for the try. The Ravens answered at 55 minutes also stretching the defence and then giving new left winger Mark Wandeto a glimpse of the corner flag. He took his chance bursting through a slight gap, shimmying by a couple of defenders at pace and diving in near the flag to introduce himself emphatically to the locals.
The Raven set scrums and lineouts are looking good. The Raven pack dominated the sets and that was with a new tight five this week. It is the open play that still needs some work: getting to the breakdown quickly, clearing out, having roles and being cohesive. Improved fitness is likely half the battle. But its early in the season and with a two-year hiatus from the game its been tough all around, hey even my muse had a poor showing on the beep test!
Referee Smortchevsky did a good job as usual. Nice to see that familiar low squat and big wingspan at the whistle. Good luck to the Lomas the rest of the way.
Next week is U Vic at Jericho and a chance to learn a bit more about the squad.
Photos by Alistair Palmer
Mark Wandeto and Aaron McLelland