Ravens Fall on Last Play: UBC 27 Ravens 26
by Peter MacDonald
This much anticipated game started off with a bang, actually three bangs, as tries lit up the scoreboard one after the other in the first few minutes. The UBC kickoff went straight out leading to a scrum centre to the Old Boys. From there fullback Aaron McLelland sped through a hole on the right side and fed it back inside to scrum half Alex Ball for a try in the first minute. UBC shook that off a second later when, after the UBC kickoff, flanker Owen Ruttan blocked a clearing kick and Frank Carson chased it down, picked up and touched down for a very quick reply. And, not long after that, UBC added another try as scrum half Jack Carson got away and, keeping it in the family, sent flanker Donald Carson in for the try, 12-7 UBC at 8 minutes.
The remainder of the half was an even affair with UBC having superiority in the set scrums and a slightly greater share of possession. A Raven penalty kick and a UBC try scored in the left corner after a quick tap taken by Ruttan brought the score to 17-10 UBC at the half. The Ravens managed their way through despite losing scrum half Ball early on to injury, a yellow card to centre Tyler Hume for a deliberate knock on and then losing flanker Jacob Ikeda to an injury to his mouth.
UBC fullback Matt Percillier featured early in the second half with two quality runs beating defenders one on one with acceleration and sharp cuts. But the Ravens scored first with advantage being played as fly half Jesper Mellish lofted a kick to the right corner flag fielded by winger Sean Hase who passed to a looping Mclelland for the try, 17-15 UBC at 52 minutes. Hard to believe it but the UBC kickoff that followed led immediately to a block of another Mellish clearing kick, this time by UBCs No 8 Alfie Scopes, who finished off the try with a dive in the right corner, 22-15 UBC.
The Ravens, with less ball than UBC, then put on the next 11 points through good defence and a scrum steal against the head. Two penalties against UBC for not releasing were slotted by Mellish bracketing a try which was the product of a scrum steal, a counter ruck near the UBC line and a strong run by Colby Mason, 26-22 Ravens at 75 minutes.
UBC though still had some gas in the tank and, after the Ravens were penalised, UBC kicked to touch to launch a last attack from a lineout 5 metres out. After a series of forward drives and a Raven penalty the ball was finally swung wide left where UBC had numbers and right winger Jake Lan, who had come across to join in on the open side, sliced through for a winning try at 80 minutes.
UBC scored 5 tries to the Ravens three and were by a small margin the better team on the day. But it was a good showing by the Ravens as they had had only one game in the previous 5 weeks and are still developing as a squad. Kickoffs hurt the Ravens as they conceded two tries on receiving kickoffs and they also played a UBC kickoff in the second half that was not going to go 10 metres resulting in 5 minutes of UBC possession rather than a scrum centre to the Ravens.
Lock Ray Wilson, flanker Simone Etheve, prop Tom Kaijaks and scrum half Jack Scher all had strong games for the Ravens. Mellish was near perfect with his kicks at goal. The Carson clan, Percillier, Ruttan and Scopes stood out for UBC as did hooker Jacob Bossi whose burst of speed on a long run in the first half was impressive for a big man.
Referee Zussman did an excellent job overall and particularly in calling the breakdown quickly and decisively. By doing so she raised the level of play by forcing support players to arrive promptly or risk penalty. The Ravens adjusted as needed and were jackalling successfully helping them stay in the game in the second half. Interestingly though, on reviewing UBCs first blocked kick try on video, it is clear that Frank Carson was in an offside position two strides in front of Ruttan when the kick was blocked. With the advantage of video and hindsight the correct call would have been no try and a penalty restart to the Ravens.
Full credit to UBC and the Ravens for an entertaining, hard-fought game. Best of luck to everyone from here on. Next week the Ravens host the Pride at home at Jericho.
Photos by Alistair Palmer
Alex Ball scrum half
Replacement Jack Scher on the tackle
Openside Simon Etheve with the ball
UBC winger Jared Andrews-Almack in open field