Ravens Forwards the Difference: Ravens 31 – Lomas 14
by Peter MacDonald
On a cool day at Connaught the players and supporters were happy to get back to rugby after another long break and they were curious to see how the two long time westside rivals were now stacking up against one another. As it turned out the Ravens still have the upper hand thanks on this day to the strong play of their forward pack.
From the kickoff a Loma handling miscue at the wing saw the ball drop out of bounds setting up a Raven lineout at midfield. This set the stage for 15 minutes of Ravens possession and solid Loma defending in the Loma half. The Lomas were defending the north end and had the disadvantage of the slight slope as well as a wind strong enough to hold up their clearing kicks. The Lomas defence held until Frank Carson unlocked it with a back of the hand pass to another big man, prop Tom Kaijaks, who set up the ruck well beyond the gain line, soon sending Aaron McLelland off on a patented streak through for a diving try, 5-0 Ravens.
The Lomas came into the game at this point and play was relatively even until Jake Ikedas work at the tackle drew a penalty against a Loma player for not releasing. The penalty kick to touch had the Ravens 5 metres from the Loma line and from there they mauled the lineout ball in quickly and efficiently, 12-0 at 29 minutes. Ditto at 35 minutes and ditto at 45 minutes, breaking the game open to 24-0 Ravens with their big forwards getting little resistance in the mauls.
The Lomas picked it up from there stretching the Ravens repeatedly and scoring from a huge overlap in the left corner, 24-7 Ravens at 50 minutes. The sides then exchanged tries with Alex Ball chasing down a McLelland grubber to score under the posts and then the Lomas #8 Jalan Farris extending to touch down, after a long Loma spell on the Ravens doorstep, at 66 minutes. The build up to the Loma try involved centre Sawyer Herron being offside so following the score he was off with a yellow card. The Lomas kept the pedal to the metal from here putting the shorthanded Ravens under pressure but, despite a couple of waiting overlaps, they failed to punch in another try. As the last minutes ticked over the Ravens pack, with its substitute front row, put their stamp on things by winning a couple of big sets which cranked the boys up acknowledging that it was a day that belonged to the forwards.
The score flattered the Ravens somewhat as, apart from the tries scored from the maul, each team had scored two tries and, by the end, possession had evened out. But the Raven pack was strong in all respects, perhaps 100% in the lineouts and very near to that in the sets and mauls. Knock-ons and inconsistent ball retention in contact plagued both sides but a long winter break followed by another three-week interval will do that. Heres hoping there is now a straight run to the seasons end with plenty of good rugby to come.