by Andrew Smith, with files from Mark Bryant
|Vancouver Island outlast Fraser Valley 28-22 in U20 Dunbar Keg final|
|Published Saturday, July 30, 2011 5:00 am|
Vancouver, BC: The Vancouver Island Rising Tide are Men's Under-20 Dunbar Keg provincial champions after downing Fraser Valley 28-22 in the 2011 title match at Klahanie Park on Saturday afternoon.
It was a classic matchup between the tenacious Fraser Valley forwards and the fleet-footed backs from Vancouver Island. The Valley forwards pillaged ball at the breakdown throughout the day, while the Vancouver Island backs were dangerous in the open spaces.
The teams traded penalties in the early going and were level at 3-3 with the Valley's no. 4 Neil McLagan doing the kicking honours while Island fly half and Canadian junior national team player Carlin Hamstra handled kicking duties for the Tide.
After the opening scores, the Tide pressed inside the Valley 22 but tenacious defence and handling errors thwarted several attempts at the line. Eventually, Vancouver Island inside centre Doug Fraser broke through to score near the posts. Hamstra converted and the Tide were ahead 10-3 with roughly 20 minutes played.
Some heavy pressure from the Fraser Valley saw the play find its way into Vancouver Island's 22. A blocked clearance kick bounced into the goal area and Fraser Valley's no. 7 Jared Douglas pounced on the rolling ball to score a try. McLagan converted and it was tied 10-10 after 30 minutes.
Before the half time whistle, Fraser Valley had several runs at the goal line but were thwarted by either their own handling errors or exceptional defensive efforts by the Island squad. Eventually fly half Patrick Shields finished off a Valley attack and they were rewarded with a 15-10 half time lead.
Vancouver Island closed the gap within five minutes of the second half with a Carlin Hamstra penalty and it was 15-13 for the Valley.
In open play, the Island displayed superiority passing the ball quickly between support runners. This led to a try by the Tide's no. 5 Alex Van Veggel, and the lead changed again with the Island ahead 18-15. This was a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Another try followed from the "Back of the Tournament", no. 12 Doug Fraser, as he put the Tide ahead 23-15 with 25 minutes left to play.
Play then became scrappy and the referee handed out a couple of yellow cards, one to each team. With each side playing 14 men, the game hit a lull with neither team able to find its rhythm. At the 70th minute mark, Jared Douglas from his loose forward role, fended off a couple of tacklers to score a solo try and put the Valley back into the game. The conversion was made and it was now 23-22 for the Tide with 10 minutes remaining.
The final result was in doubt right until the end. With about three minutes left, Vancouver Island hooker Cory Walker crashed over the line to seal the victory at 28-22. It was a game befitting a provincial championship and it could have gone either way with both teams leaving potential points on the field.
There were outstanding efforts by several players but in particular Doug Fraser for the Tide at no. 12 and Jared Douglas at no. 7 for the Valley deserve special mention.
Head coach of the Fraser Valley U20 side, Marc Filatrault reflected on his team's effort once the final whistle was blown.
"We made an attempt to control the game [and] the second half became very competitive," Filiatrault said. "You can see the true talent we have at this age group... when you see these teams come together and that goes for all three teams that played in this tournament this year."
Vancouver Island coach Roger Robinson was pleased with the win and hopes to see the Under-20 competition continue to develop.
"We need to do more for the Under-20 program," Robinson said. "It's about development. It's good for Canadian rugby. The game was close [with] a lot of mistakes from both sides. A lot of loose balls and a lot of high degree of difficulty stuff. If you play that style, you can die by that style as well, but [co-coach] Ken (Goodland) and I encourage the players to express themselves."
2011 BC U20 Dunbar Keg Results
Sat. July 9: Vancouver Island Rising Tide 46 - 24 Vancouver Wave
Sat. July 16: Vancouver Island Rising Tide 36 - 29 Fraser Valley
Fri. July 22: Fraser Valley 36 - 27 Vancouver Wave
Sat. July 30: Dunbar Keg Final - Vancouver Island 28 - 22 Fraser Valley
About the Dunbar Keg Competition
Three regional representative teams contested for the historic Dunbar Keg this summer in the revamped British Columbia Rugby Men's Under-20 Championship. The Vancouver Wave, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island Rising Tide competed in a round-robin competition, accruing points towards a championship appearance. These three teams had previously competed against one another in the Pacific Conference of the now-annulled Rugby Canada Junior National Championship.
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