UBCOB Ravens – March 2024

Ravens Pushed But Get The Win – Report by Peter MacDonald
Ravens 18 – Westshore 5

An overnight dusting of snow disappeared by game time on a clear cold afternoon at Jericho. But Westshore brought a lot of heat keeping the Ravens on the back foot for most of the first half. Although the Ravens in the early minutes scored from a chip kick fielded by centre Nico Leonard who then breezed by the defending left winger, Westshore had clear advantages in both possession and territory throughout the half. Credit to the Ravens’ defence and a couple of knock-ons near the line that Westshore was held off the scoreboard in the first 40 minutes.

Westshore was quick to the breakdown and their #10 Payton Gibson got the ball wide in short order keeping the Ravens under pressure for long stretches. At the rucks Westshore had runners off the ball coming at speed and varying their angles adding to the pressure. And when the Ravens were in possession the visitors were disruptive at the breakdowns getting steals and denying quick ball.

A Joe Locke steal at a Westshore ruck at 30 minutes set the Ravens up for a quick attack with scrum half Billy Wickham driving forward and quick tapping from a penalty but Westshore held firm and the half closed out 8-0 after a Raven penalty goal ended the half with the Ravens fortunate to be holding the lead.

The Ravens stepped it up a bit after the break and at 50 minutes Wickham was high tackled and he quick tapped to set up a ruck from which the Ravens backs attacked a backpedalling Westshore backline. Inside centre Harjun Gill was presented with a slight gap. He sowed a little doubt about his intentions, glided through and fed fullback Jake Holmes outside who turned it in to Locke for the Ravens’ second try, 13-0.

From there the game became chaotic one might say. Ball retention wasn’t a thing, phases were snuffed out with steals, lack of cohesion at the breakdown forced referee Smortchevsky to resort to the whistle ….it would have been easier to report on a pinball game. At the post game session Ravens captain David O’Donoghue credited the Westshore #5 Brian Ndirangu, a former Kenyan national team 15s player, with double digits in steals.

Lock Frank Carson dove in for a Raven try at 66 minutes and Westshore replied in the 80th minute to end the game.

The Ravens were unable to control possession consistently because of Westshore’s disruptive quickness but they did score three tries and they did hold Westshore out till the very end. Good team defending led by man of the match in the forwards Locke and the three Raven locks, Jim, Don and Frank Carson was key. Westshore put in a very good shift and will be a handful for any team going forward.

The Ravens now have another week off to work on their game and to shape a talented squad of 23 into a cohesive unit. Their much interrupted season resumes March 16 away to CW.

Posted in BC Premier, Front Page.