UBCOB Ravens – March 2024

Ravens Prevail in Entertaining Game Ravens 43 – Caps 28
Report by Peter MacDonald

On a miserable rainy day before a lively, full house crowd at Klahanie the Capilanos threw a scare into the Ravens before the visitors pulled away for the win in the last 20 minutes. It was a quality game and Raven fullback Nick Blain after the game commented that it was one of the toughest games they’ve had all season. Kudos to the Caps for ignoring the record and continuing to play good rugby.

The first half saw the big Raven forwards control possession with props Lachie Gunson and Harrison Burgess pounding past the gain line carrying tacklers on their way. In the sets too the Ravens had the push on leading to a scrum penalty at 8 minutes deep in Caps territory, then a quick tap and a James Carson try from short range, 7-0 Ravens. A Burgess crash soon after freed up Aaron McLelland to dash through a hole 40 metres out and turn the ball inside to #9 Sam Walton-Sexton who cut hard right for the try, 12-0. Then from a strong set it was Walton-Sexton again as he took a small gap and two cuts later dotted down, 19-0 at 17 minutes. But for the next 60 minutes it was an even game as the Caps settled down and got into a rhythm. From there each team put up four tries with the Caps outscoring the Ravens over the stretch 28-24.

Centre Melani Nanai chased down a grubber from flyhalf George Wallin and toed the ball on twice for the Caps first strike at 24 minutes while the Ravens answered before the break with centre Nico Leonard disrupting a pass in the Caps backfield with the ball popping to Jake Holmes for an easy try for the winger, 26-7 at the half. The Caps score may have been higher as just before the half the Caps #9 Brandon Power slipped a nice backhand pass to Johnny Franklin who burst into space only to be tackled high 15 metres from the line by Walton-Sexton who saw a yellow card for his offence.

Frank Carson answered Power’s talents at 51 minutes with a one-handed slip to his brother Don sending him into daylight from the edge of a ruck with McLelland riding shotgun and getting the tally, 31-7. Franklin then drew some “ahhs” from the crowd with an interception that he took to the house 31-14. And Franklin wasn’t done as at 60 minutes Chris Robinson matched Power’s handling with another back pass to his veteran centre (not the first time they’ve tried it) and he was under the posts again, 31-21 Ravens with a slight chill over the Raven side and their supporters. To add to the Raven concern captain David O’Donoghue was red carded for an inadvertent shoulder apparently to the head of a Cap player at a ruck and the Ravens were down to 14 men.

Caps hopes though were dashed as Leonard soon touched down a McLelland grubber for a try and then kicked on a spilled ball twice and outsprinted the field for a second try soon after, 43-21. A final Caps try came through hard running by Glen McKinnon which set up quality ball for Wallin to move to flanker Flynn Heyes running hard off the ball and bursting through for the try.

Heyes and Franklin would be the Caps men of the match for me as Heyes’ work rate stood out and Franklin’s savvy was apparent. Wallin and Moloney provide confident handling, kicking and structure and Cam Waddell was notable on the wing for some powerful runs. For 60 minutes the Ravens’ Joe Locke was a force carrying and tackling, Blain at fullback handled Moloney’s kicks well and was a calm presence throughout the game and the Carson clan continued to play at a high level. Canada U20 eligible hooker Riku Conrad plays a mature game well above his years and his lineout throwing and loose play stood out on the day.

Thanks to the Caps for their hosting and, in particular, to Jim Leith for his home cooked meals for the masses of players. Now it is on to UBC in two weeks time for another stern test.

Posted in BC Premier, Front Page.