Ravens Will Take It: Match Report Ravens 33 U Vic 31
by Peter MacDonald
Another nice day, another big squad rotation and another win for the Ravens though it was UVic that likely enjoyed their rugby the most and earned the greater admiration from the crowd on the day. But the Ravens got it done early and got it done late and held on at the end for another five points.
The Ravens jumped out to a 14-0 lead before the 10 minute mark on an Aaron Mclelland finish, which followed a hard crash by debuting loosehead Samita Langa, and then a David Thompson try, the fruits of a one handed interception by hooker Sean Pyle. UVic answered promptly with the first of four tries it scored on the day by way of a grinding, low, pick and go from short range, 14-5 at 11 minutes.
The Ravens best spell of the game followed featuring a hard bosh and a soft offload by lock Trevor Helgason, pressure in the right corner and then quick ball and a long pass from Mclelland to left winger Mark Wandeto for an easy try in the left corner, 19-5 at 20 minutes. At this point UVic looked to be in trouble but, to the contrary, in fact they stepped it up and took control of the game for the next 40 minutes scoring 19 unanswered points from three tries. The UVic backs were owning things with regular long advances usually going through Brennig Prevost who would keep defenders honest with his threat to take a gap and then fire a wide pass for his mates to run onto at pace. Although the Ravens were run ragged at times, the UVic backs never punched in a try themselves. They delivered field position but all three tries were ultimately furnished by forward work in tight with their front row of Fatt, Yue and Kokan and #8 Nick Carson doing most of the damage, 24-19 UVic at 60 minutes.
Compounding the Raven troubles were the two yellow cards issued against them for repeated infringements at the rucks and the two Raven kickoffs that went straight into touch. Its never good to hand over possession at a scrum centre to a university side when you are one man down not to mention two men down. Not a good look and it didnt end well as one try ensued as did very long stretches of desperate defending.
Entering the final quarter of the game Mclelland, having let the game come to him for the two previous games and the first 60 minutes of this one, apparently decided to assert himself. Slotted in now at fly half rather than his usual fullback, he was positioned left of a Raven set scrum at midfield when he took the long pass from his #9 Alex Ball, fed the inside centre and looped at speed. He took a gap and passed on to David ODonoghue who broke free and who then put away scrum half Alex Ball for a try near the posts, 26-24 Ravens. A surgical strike.
UVic were back on the Ravens doorstep moments later though but a counter ruck initiated by James Carson turned the ball over at the brink. A melee following a high hit on McLelland raised the temperature but no sendings off seemed a fair result. With their tails up the Ravens scored a final try with a surge following a lineout and a crash in by Helgason, 33-24 Ravens approaching 70 minutes. The
result was in doubt till the end as UVic blocked a clearance kick and scored to close the gap to 2 points at 33-31 and then kept the pressure on. But a near miss to the right at a penalty kick from range and a knock on at 78 minutes ended the students hopes. The Ravens played out the last few ticks keeping it tight and saw off the victory with a kick into touch at full time. Only then could they catch their breath and with a mix of thoughts enjoy the victory.
Hager, Gamage and Casey had strong games in the UVic backs which were humming as a unit most of the game chewing up yardage and making a mockery of the gain line as a benchmark. Pyle, flanker Blain Meek and subs ODonoghue and Ikeda stood out for the Ravens along with man of the match Helgason. If UVic maintains todays standard they will do very well. The Ravens now have three weeks to prepare for the next round of games having taken full points from 3 games and with lots of combinations to consider. We welcome Burnaby next on March 5 th at Jericho.
# The Rippers too are undefeated and this week fielded three U19s who have come through the youth ranks (see below).
From left to right: Sandon Gupta, Marco Mitchell, Graham Turner, Pieter Swart