VANCOUVER - Two rounds remain in the Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League season and week 13 promises a number of barnburners as teams jockey for playoff positioning.
Table leaders James Bay Athletic Association (11-1) are on the road to Meraloma (6-5-1), a team desperately needing a win to keep their postseason hopes alive. Over on Vancouver Island, the Oak Bay Castaway Wanderers (8-3-1) are at home to Capilano (9-3) of West Vancouver as the two teams continue to jockey for home field advantage in the playoffs. Battling to avoid relegation, Abbotsford (1-11) need a win against Burnaby Lake Rugby Club (7-5), a team that handed them a 57-10 loss over Easter weekend. Relegation will also be on the minds of the UVic Vikes (1-11) as the students look to distance themselves from the bottom of the table this weekend against the UBCOB Ravens (4-8).
SCHEDULE: Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League - Sat. April 21st:
James Bay AA at Meraloma Rugby Club (Connaught Park) 2:45pm
UBCOB Ravens at UVic Vikes (Wallace Field) 2:45pm
Capilano RFC at Castaway Wanderers (Windsor Park) 2:45pm
Abbotsford RFC at Burnaby Lake Rugby Club (Burnaby Lake Sports Complex) 2:45pm
NOTE: Semifinals scheduled for May 5th
James Bay at Meraloma Preview
Meraloma are currently chasing Burnaby Lake Rugby Club (7-5) and are two points back of their Lower Mainland rivals for the fourth and final playoff berth. The 'Lomas have made four straight Rounsefell Cup (Premier League championship) appearances, but have battled from behind this season after carrying a 0-3 record from the Fall competition.
Last week Meraloma came through in a crucial matchup against Burnaby, winning 14-6 at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex to close the gap to just two points.
"We have been treating the past four or five games as make or break, but we targeted the Burnaby game as the most important for our season," said Meraloma captain Eric Wilson. "We unfortunately started behind the eight-ball after Christmas due to results in the Fall so we have really felt a lot of pressure on every game since the break. We felt unfortunate to not come away with wins against CW and James Bay early in the season and have been living with essentially no margin for error since then."
Meraloma's squad has been bolstered by the return of Brian Erichsen this Spring, who missed the Fall season due to commitments with Canada at the Rugby World Cup. The 'Lomas have also picked up back row standout Lynyrd Hall and have relied on the steady boot of fly half Bryan Tyrer. The 22-year-old currently sits second in league scoring with a total of 95 points through 3 tries, 1 drop goal, 14 penalties and 16 conversions.
"We really feel that, like in the past, we have a strong collection of players who all play a large part in our success," Wilson added. "Obviously having Brian's [Erichsen] leadership and intensity on the field both at practice and in games is invaluable. Lynyrd has come to the club this year and strengthened our already strong back row along side Josh Clarke and Alex Boyd. In the backs Bryan's ability to threaten the defence has been key for us."
Meraloma will have to rally at home to defeat James Bay, a team that has lost just once this season. When the two sides last met on February 18th, it was the Bays who produced a narrow 16-10 victory at MacDonald Park. Dave Moonlight scored the Bays' only try on that day, with Canadian internationals Sean White kicking a conversion and Connor Braid tacking on three penalties. Tyrer single-handedly accounted for all of Meraloma's scoring with a try, conversion and penalty.
The Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League semifinals are scheduled for May 5th with the Rounsefell Cup Final slated for May 12th.