UBCOB Ravens – May 2024

Ravens Top Lomas in BC Premier Final 25 – 17: Report by Peter MacDonald

A big crowd and an excellent pitch at Burnaby Lake were the setting for the last championship game of a long day, the men’s premier final. The Ravens came out strongly, dominating the first 10 minutes, and staking themselves to a 10-0 lead. The try was a product of continuous possession and pressure with forwards, Crowell, Locke, Kaijaks and Konrad carrying and making ground. Lock Donald Carson then moved the ball towards the posts where from a ruck Joe Locke’s strong angled run off the ball put him through the would-be tacklers for the try under the posts.

For the rest of the half it was the Lomas carrying most of the play, testing and finding wanting the Raven defence on many occasions. First it was the Loma maul which presented problems. From a Loma lineout and maul the Ravens were penalized for taking down the maul and from the ensuing lineout the Lomas mauled in a try without much difficulty, 10-7 Ravens at 15 minutes.

Then, after the Ravens nearly crossed the line but were penalized for not releasing, the Loma backs went to work troubling/carving up the Ravens defence. The Lomas # 10 Trent Ormsby had room to run and his pace and guile kept the Ravens defenders on their heels and guessing. The dangerous Loma centres, Fraser and Bustindoy, as well as right winger Dewi Williams joining in at different spots from the blind side, were taking the ball on the burst and breaching first phase defence disturbingly often. But the Raven defence bent but did not break again through 40 minutes. Aaron Mclelland thwarted a 70 metre attack with a saving tackle near the line, Nico Leonard knocked the ball loose at one near try and then just beat Williams to a chip into in goal and the Ravens’ forward defence held out another Loma drive at 35 minutes.

At the end of the half the Ravens found their game again and turned up the pressure with sustained physical phase play leaving Bustindoy and Raven captain David O’Donoghue down on the pitch with injuries and causing referee Horton to stop play. Both players stayed in and from the scrum centre restart the Ravens attacked at the left edge through Harjun Gill and then quickly swung wide left to McLelland whose well weighted grubber was chased and touched down by fullback Nick Blain, 15-7 Ravens at the half.

If the Ravens discussed shoring up their backfield defence at the break “Plan B” was quickly shredded as well. In no time Dewi Williams had rambled 50 metres to be tackled finally by Ethan Berry but a Raven knock-on then gave the Lomas a set scrum 30 metres out to the right of the posts. Williams came in again off his wing and split the first line of defence easily and he swerved through the rest hardly touched. It was now 15-14 at 43 minutes in favour of the vulnerable looking Ravens.

But that was to be the last penetrating Loma run as the Ravens retained more possession, asserted set scrum superiority and cleaned up their defence. The last try of the game was from a “broken play” where the Loma players had let down their guard slightly perhaps wondering whether there had been a Raven knock-on. Nick Blain picked up the loose bouncing ball as he spied a hole in the Loma defence and shot through to open territory at midfield and made his way under the posts, 22-14 Ravens at 50 minutes.

Apparently intent on shutting down Dewi Williams the next time he got the ball Harjun Gill and Ethan Berry took him down but Harjun was knocked out cold on the ground for minutes after. Luckily, after a long break in play, Harjun got to his feet and the warrior managed a smile as he was led off the field.

Both sides had opportunities to score in the last 20 minutes. The Lomas were mauling toward the line from a lineout but a knock-on ended that. Then left winger Keith Graham had a ball pop loose to him on the sideline from a scrum and his straight hard run down the line was stopped by a standup tackle by Blain. The Ravens had Sam Walton-Sexton just tackled near the posts, Leonard step into touch-in-goal at the left corner flag as he dove in and a forward drive held up in goal.

The tension mounted with three minutes to go when the Ravens pulled down another Loma maul with their fullback Louis Whelan slotting the kick bringing the Lomas to within 5 points 22-17 and with a chance to tie or win with a final try. But, as the Lomas swung the ball from the kickoff, Jacob Ikeda jarred the ball loose in a tackle and soon Blain was high tackled. Blain put the kick through to take back the eight point lead, 25-17, and from there the Ravens held possession till the final whistle.

It was a game worthy of a final. All seven Loma backs were a threat and Corne Ludick, Jalan Farris and the forwards were solid. Nick Blain put up 20 of the 25 points for the Ravens in his calm, understated way but it was a total team effort. Josh Tweed, Riku Konrad and Tom Kaijaks in the front row were the foundation of a strong set scrum and were vital parts of a consistent lineout. Kudos to captain David O’Donoghue and the coaching staff led by Chris Taylor for cultivating a strong culture and maintaining a high standard throughout the season.

Congratulations too to the Rippers, the Premier Reserve team, on their win over the young UBC squad in a close 18-11 with the winning try coming from Mark Wandeto at 75 minutes.

Time for a well-deserved rest but not before a quick trip to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico for the club’s 50th anniversary trip in mid-May to play the Mexican National team and to kick back on the beach.

Photos by Alistair Palmer

Joe Locke

Donald Carson

Nico Leonard

Aaron McLelland offloads to Hamish Janes

Jacob Ikeda

Mark Wandeto – Premier Reserve match

Posted in BC Premier, Front Page.