VICTORIA - Two second half tries were enough to see the Vancouver Island Women's Tide edge Vancouver 17-10 in the first leg of the Ruth Hellerud-Brown Cup opener on Saturday.
Vancouver, who traveled with a limited bench of two substitutes, opted for keeping the ball in tight and wearing down their opponents at the contact point. Ultimately the Tide's fluid ball movement, offloading and tenacious attack won out as their backs and fresh legs powered through the full 80 minutes.
"We just tried to play an exciting game and move the ball into space," said Island Tide head coach Brad Skene, who saw his players in action for the first time today after practicing through the winter. "We really tried to exploit the gaps and create line breaks."
The opening score went to the home side in the second minute as Tide second row Carmen Sund sprinted towards the goal line before offloading to an awaiting Laura Crow-Hutchon, who crashed over for the 5-0 lead.
Vancouver responded with a brace of tries in the 20th and 26th minutes as tighthead prop Carolyn McEwen dotted down, followed shortly after by December Turcato. Vancouver were led by national team reps Julia Sugawara and Kim Donaldson who rallied the squad after a slow start.
"Those two were definitely our standouts and I'm thrilled with the team's effort," said Vancouver's head coach Walt Brandl. " I was impressed with Vancouver Island's pace and if I were them I probably would have tried to get the ball out wide because they would have had even more scoring opportunities."
After leading 10-5 at the break, Vancouver came out flat in the opening minutes of the second frame conceding two quick tries to go down 17-10.
Island Tide scrum half Lynzi Anderson produced great ball from the deck and provided flare to her team's attack with darting runs through the defence. At the 45 minute mark Vancouver island's Kehla Guimond went through and shortly after Kara Galbrath scored and converted in the 51st.
Anderson nearly recorded a fourth try for the Island with 10 minutes to play, sprinting through the midfield and beating multiple tacklers but ultimately running out of steam inside the 22. Vancouver would again rally in the final minutes through a series of strong phases and rolling mauls but couldn't break through.
"It's a tough decision where to play [Lynzi]," added Skene after the match. "She is such a hard runner and gifted ball carrier. If she can translate more of that to the scrum half role, she is going to be really good."
Anderson and the Vancouver Island Tide now head to Abbotsford for their next match against the Fraser Valley Rugby Union. The fixture is scheduled for February 2nd at CFV Exhibition Park.
Island tries: '02 Laura Crowe-Hutchon, '45 Kehla Guimond, '51 Kara Galbrath
Island converts: Kara Galbrath
Vancouver tries: '20 Carolyn McEwen, '26 December Turcato