VANCOUVER - Abbotsford RFC's U19 men's team will head to Jericho Park this Saturday to scrum down against the UBC Old Boy Ravens in the Lower Mainland regional final. The winner will not only be crowned regional champion, but will go on to host the 2012 Provincial Final against Vancouver Island's representatives on November 24th.
Match Info - Lower Mainland U19 Final - Sat. November 17th:
Abbotsford RFC at UBCOB Ravens (Jericho Park) 10:00am
The Ravens defeated Abbotsford twice during the regular season including a 19-5 score on October 20th and a 20-15 win back on September 15th. Abbotsford entered the playoffs at 3-4 and found themselves up against defending provincial champions Capilano RFC in last weekend's semifinals.
Abby dug deep and stuck out a 16-15 gritty win over the North Shore powerhouse and now head to Jericho to face off against the no. 2 seed Ravens.
"Our boys have been improving every game this season and managed to put together their best performance on a day when it counted," said Abbotsford coach Ryan McWhinney. "Many of our players have never beat Capilano in their history of playing youth for Abbotsford and this seemed to be an additional motivating factor. They played with a lot of heart and effectively executed our game plan."
Abbotsford have had strong performances from their BC provincial reps including JD Paul (Captain), Louis Reteif, Joey Campbell and Spencer Loughlin. Bolstering the team has also been centre Sebastain Gibson, flanker Nick Windt, lock Justin Vargas and tight five standouts Geremy Alvarado and Judah Ratzlaff.
"Any success we've had this season has been a team effort and we're proud of all the boys for the time they've invested in improving," McWhinney added.
The Fraser Valley side will see how far they have come on Saturday when they travel to Vancouver's West Side for their second straight appearance in a Lower Mainland final.
"[Ravens] are a well balanced team with the ability to run the ball tight or move it wide. They are strong defenders and are dangerous in counter attacking," added McWhinney. "We hope to have learned from our previous games and build off of our success last week so that we can perform in what is sure to be an intense battle this Saturday."
The Ravens are 4-1 on their home pitch and roll into the final on the back of a 43-3 win over South Surrey's Bayside Athletic Association. The Ravens have given up just four tries in October and November and led the league defensively with just 78 points against through seven games.
"The key to our team's success this year has been our fitness, line speed on defence and our success at the breakdown," said UBCOB Ravens coach Garret Garbe. "The win over Bayside in the semifinals was our most complete game to date and our best defensive effort. It was a close game until about the 50 minute mark and after that they couldn't keep up with our pace and intensity."
The Ravens boast a solid lineup and Garbe was reluctant to name any individuals as their success has been largely attributed to the team working together as one unit.
"I have 22 strong players and everyone has been fantastic," Garbe said. "No matter who is in our lineup or who is playing what position, I am confident that we will get the job done."
The job at hand for Garbe's U19s is one more win to see them through to the provincial championship - a feat they have not achieved in over a decade.
"Abbotsford is a strong team and we have had two close victories over them this season," Garbe added. "They could beat us easily if we don't bring our workmen like style of play on Saturday morning. I am expecting a very physical game from them and it will probably come down to the last five minutes."
Elsewhere in U19 competition, Bayside and Capilano will be facing off in the Tier One Consolation Final. The Tier Two Lower Mainland semifinals will feature United at Richmond and Burnaby Lake at Kelowna. The Tier 2 Consolation will see Bayside-2 away to Langley.