The VRC Prems split their past two home games against the Meralomas and Seattle Seracens, respectively, in a continuation of a season in which they have trailed as the clock expired too frequently.
The Meralomas game Oct. 24th made it clear that the top side was capable of making things go their way and playing elite rugby in this league, earning the win and a bonus point with a 45-17 victory. Flanker Connor McCann scored 3 tries, English eighth man Tommy Hanson scored his first as a Rower, out half Richie Thompson put in a beauty, and hooker Jason Carton looked excellent running one in from about 15 yards out. Brian Durham was near perfect on conversions, kicking six of seven, plus a penalty. The Rowers attacked at pace and limited mistakes against the Lomas, building momentum off of success and making the game seem easy against a talented team.
|The Rowers Reset after their fourth or fifth try vs. the Lomas|
The Elite division were less successful on the 24th of October against Seattle, falling 23-14 in a very wet, very physical game. The Rowers were in the game, but couldn’t establish control or run pattern off of the front foot. The Rowing Club defense looked good for periods but was spotty overall and not good enough to hold a big Seattle side’s consistent pressure back. Super-sub scrum half Duncan James scored a try for the VRC and Carton scored his second in as many games. Brian Durham slotted both conversions.
The VRC First division scored four tries at home against the Maralomas, but were unable to secure a victory, falling 36-27 for what can only be described as a lack of defense. The firsts played hard rugby and moved the ball efficiently, but were unable to stop the Maralomas attack and avoid the sting of dropping a very winnable game at home. Fly half Andrew Meakin and blind side winger Nik Samija both scored tries, while noted score sheet hog centre Adriaan Meiring scored his usual two tries and one penalty kick, along with two conversions.
|Matt Cox congratulates Simon Taylor on the All Blacks RWC victory.|
The Firsts bounced back in the October 31st games against Seattle, practically breaking the scoreboard with a 63-22 tally. The Rowers scored points early and often, running a wide open pattern and limiting mistakes with the ball in hand. Tight head prop Greg “Gus The Bus” Crowe played a phenomenal game, showcasing running and ball handling skills beyond what one might expect from a big man and scoring one of nine Rowers Firsts tries on the day. Captain Brendan “Baldy” Fagan also put one in, as did halfback Andrew Meakin. Centre Graham Turner, freshly arrived from Alberta, scored his first with the Rowers and fullback Brandon Balon continued a strong campaign with a try of his own. Open winger Kevin Gurniak and Meiring scored 2 tries each, Meiring kicking four conversions and two penalty kicks.
The Rowers thirds disappointed the home crowd at Brockton on Oct 24th, falling 29-20 to a strong Maralomas side that proved better at limiting mistakes and penalties than their hosts. The thirds were able to move the ball for the most part, but were unable to get the handle on some messy and poorly defined rucks. The first half was close, the Rowers even holding a one point lead (8-7) on a try by blind flanker Luc Gourdine and a penalty by fly half John O’Brien. But poor defending and excess penalties allowed the ‘Lomas to score three quick tries. Rowers mistakes in attack squandered chances at equalizing. The Rowers made another push behind a second penalty by O’Brien, and a try by 2nd row Brett Illing, but would end up short. The thirds looked disorganized and were clearly in need of tighter unit work.
The third division would look for revenge the following week against the Britt Lions but come up only two points short, losing 20-18 to a strong but beatable team.
The Rowers fell behind early, giving up two early tries. As the game looked like it might get away from them in the first half, Kiwi player-coach Brett Russell – fresh off of watching his native All Blacks take home the Rugby World Cup that morning -placed a perfect cross kick into the hands of a quickly moving Evan Hughes right at the goal line to put the home team and the home crowd back in it. Hughes showed excellent skills at the open wing position for the whole game, proving nearly impossible to tackle with ball in hand. Blind winger Luc Gourdine also had a great game, scoring his second try in as many games, but it wasn’t quite enough. The Rowers mounted a final push trailing by two points but were unable to get close enough for points before time expired.
All three teams are away at Burnaby on Saturday November 7th. We’ll see all of you there.