Ravens Hang on for Win Ravens 36 – Burnaby 29: Match Report by Peter MacDonald
On a very sunny and warm, (18 degrees), November afternoon at Jericho two evenly matched teams went at it hard with the result in the balance until the final whistle. While Burnaby picked up two bonus points, the Ravens escaped with the win after two last minute saving tackles denied Burnaby a shot at a tied game.
Things were looking dicey for the Ravens in the first half as a methodical Burnaby pack wore down the Ravens’ defence and Burnaby built up a 14-3 lead by the 36 minute mark. Fly half Ethan Turner scored first at 27 minutes breaking left from a ruck after sustained Burnaby pressure. Then a pick and go sequence from a 5 metre scrum made it 14-3. The Ravens hung in though and scored just before the break when a Burnaby up and under led to a Mat Chan slashing run, a clear out by Tom Kaijaks and a quick run from scrum half Billy Wickham who slid off a couple of tackles, 14-10 at the half.
The Ravens had little continuity in the first half as they had repeated knock-ons and found various other ways to halt their own advances. More possession and better ball retention would be needed to right the ship. But a Burnaby try from their big lock Ish Mulema at 41 minutes suggested things might be getting worse as he shredded the first line of defence and powered in, 21-10.
But the Ravens gradually turned the tide by picking up the pace, moving the ball well through their backs and stretching the Burnaby defence. The Ravens reeled off four consecutive tries to lead 36-24 with 5 minutes to go. Wickham went in first from a quick penalty tap near the Burnaby line. Then after a lineout steal and a Grant Crowell crash run #10 Harjun Gill accepted a gap on the right and tallied untouched. Gill then laid down a well weighted grubber into in goal and lock Don Carson chased it in and touched down. Finally at 75 minutes fullback Nick Blain fielded a clearing kick in the Raven half, drew his man and fed winger JP Fieldhouse who turned it inside to his fellow winger David Thompson who cut back sharply to avoid the last man and score under the posts, 36-24.
Burnaby then snapped back with a big push at the end. A long miss pass to the left winger secured a try at 78 minutes to bring the score to 36-29. And but for a saving tackle on the left sideline by centre Tsugu Hirai and a final tackle by Billy Wickham that caused a Burnaby knock-on at the whistle it could have been knotted up at the end.
Burnaby’s Turner and centres Scott Barr and Brian Murphy together with their big pack stood out. Wickham, Blain, Crowell and Chan led the way for the Ravens whose lineout, featuring the throw-ins of hooker Taiyo Minami, was excellent all day. The Ravens tackling was solid with Gill, Cole Keffer and Kaijaks most notable. It was a gutsy win by the Ravens but both teams look like solid contenders this season.