Ravens Fall to CW at Full Time – Rippers on to Final
by Peter MacDonald
On a good day for rugby at Jericho some hopes were fulfilled and others dashed as the prems hearts were broken at the end and the Rippers secured a victory late in the game with a stunning interception while Abby was on the boil and the Rips down to 13 men.
The Ravens started well with a flurry of phases and pressure on CW who were working off their ferry legs in the early stages. It was 12-0 Ravens by the 8 minute mark as Grant Crowell crashed in from a penalty tap at the 5 metre mark and then Aaron McLelland quick tapped from 40 metres out, took a gap, rounded Chisholm and fed a final pass out of the back of his hand to send Tyler Hume down the right touchline for the score.
CW steadied themselves and were rewarded at 23 minutes after a series of penalties from which they chose to restart with scrums 5 metres out. A blind side attack from the base of the scrum saw left winger Angus Boyd-Porter take a flat pass from Bowd and a hard line into goal, 12-5 Ravens. The half ended though with Raven lock Trevor Helgason pushing through the gain line and providing go forward ball to McLelland who again rounded a CW forward and delivered a long pass to winger Sean Hase who powered in down the left sideline to score, 19-5 Ravens after an excellent conversion by Jellish.
At 46 minutes the CW pack from a 5 metre set shunted back the Raven pack and the #8 Sandison picked up and dove in with ease, suggesting perhaps to the home supporters that a reversal of fortunes could be in the offing, 19-12 Ravens. But the Ravens held in well, taking it to CW for a spell in which they had three opportunities to score. First Hase was held up in goal after a promising attack. Then the Ravens, having been awarded a penalty 25 metres out just outside the right post and with time off for an injury concern, decided not to take the points and when play resumed they tapped and passed left to the backs with no success. But it was third time lucky as centre Jake Gibson soon fielded a pop kick and, following a quick ruck, McLelland laid down a grubber to the left corner and chased it down himself for the try, 24-12 Ravens at 65 minutes.
At 70 minutes CW went clinical again, kicking to touch from a penalty and mauling the lineout ball win in from close range, 24-19 after a conversion from the right touchline by Bowd. The last 5 minutes was a methodical period of CW possession around the Raven 22 metre line with secure rucks and handling by CW and solid if not desperate defending by the Ravens. When CW failed to produce the ball from a maul at the Raven 5 metre line with very little time remaining things were looking up for the Ravens. But, after the set scrum was reset a couple of times, CW pushed the Ravens back and stole the ball. Quick ball left produced an overlap as Mike Adibe stepped in and attracted defenders while he made the final pass to late sub Mike Fuailefau for the try, 24-24 with a testing conversion from the right to come. Bowd sloughed off the pressure and nailed it as the whistle then ended the game and the visitors rightly celebrated a well deserved trip to the final.
You have to tip your hat to CWs pack in the sets and the lineouts where Chisolm was a sure thing all day long. Herron and Sandison stood out in the loose forwards for me and Bowd and Boyd-Porter in the backs, while the tight five earned the victory I think its fair to say. Best of luck to the islanders in the final.
The Ravens left it all out there and should be proud of their season. Captain David ODonoghue persevered through injuries boldly leading the way. A deep squad was needed to keep things going through long breaks in the schedule and everyone who donned the jersey did their part. Best wishes to flanker Simone Etheve who will be returning to France in the fall after a few memorable seasons with the Ravens. You will not find a better tackler anywhere in the game. Kudos to Simon Fitzgerald and his staff on managing through a trying year with covid and producing high level rugby every week.
As for the Rippers, they were holding a 28-3 lead at halftime over Abby but in the second half Abby began to take over and they closed the gap to 28-17. Two yellow cards had the Rips defending a surging Abbotsford squad rolling downhill with momentum at 70 minutes. But Jack Scher at flyhalf turned the game on its head as Abby launched another foray in their backs. He took a chance and slipped into a passing lane to intercept and run in a try from 50 metres out essentially ending the Abby chances in that moment. The carded players were soon back on the pitch and the Rippers saw out the win.
Next week at Bayside they will carry the colours and take on the hosts in the BC final, a just reward for a strong side. See you there.