VANCOUVER, BC - The 2012-13 Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League regular season wraps up this weekend with two of the province's elite sides squaring off in a match that will decide the fourth and final playoff berth. Saturday's clash at Kitsilano's Connaught Park will be a rematch of the 2011 Rounsefell Cup Final as the no. 5 Castaway Wanderers (6-6-1) look to close a four point gap in the standings against no. 4 Meraloma (7-6).
Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League - Sat. April 20th:
Castaway Wanderers at Meraloma (Connaught Park) 2:45pm
UVic Vikes at James Bay (MacDonald Park) 2:45pm
Bayside Sharks at Burnaby Lake (Burnaby Lake Sports Complex) 2:45pm
UBCOB Ravens at Capilano RFC (Klahanie Park) 2:45pm
After making four straight appearances in the provincial final, including a championship year in 2009, Meraloma missed the playoffs last season. Under a new head coach in Angel Cividanes, the perennial finalists could clinch a playoff seed this weekend with a tie.
"It's pretty much a playoff game and that's how we've been treating it heading into this weekend," said Meraloma Captain and Canada-capped scrum half Eric Wilson. "We've been preparing that way and we know they are to. We always seem to have really close games with them - both teams have won on last second tries in a number of close games."
The last time these two sides met was back on October 13th at Windsor Park, and Meraloma pulled off the 20-13 victory. Things haven't gone the 'Lomas way since the winter break as they have struggled with a second half 2-4 record. Just one of those games was at home, however, and Wilson says playing in front of the Connaught Park faithful will definitely be a confidence boost in a pivotal matchup.
"Anyone who has done the ferry and then has to play after the journey knows that it puts you at a disadvantage," added Wilson. "We definitely see it as an advantage and it makes such a difference playing at home."
Juggling injuries and off-field commitments, the 'Lomas have struggled for consistency recently but the full squad should be on hand this Saturday. Mike Hall has stepped up and last week kicked three conversions and four penalties to help down the UBCOB Ravens 38-18. Their attack will once again come through the forwards as they will look to out-muscle the Oak Bay line up littered with Canada caliber players.
"We pretty much go with how our forwards go," added Wilson. "If they get some good ball in hand then we can ride the pack's momentum. We know we can count on guys like Lynyrd Hall, Callum Morrison and Brian Erichsen and will need that to keep us on the front foot."
The Meraloma pack will be up against the Castaway Wanderers veterans in Kenny Goodland, Doug Wooldridge, Ray Barkwill and Scott Franklin, all capped at the senior men's national level. The CW lineup has climbed their way up the rankings this winter and ended Burnaby Lake's eight game win streak at Windsor Park on April 13th.
"Even with their Canada Sevens guys in and out of the lineup, they are always a tough opponent," said Wilson. "Their pack is usually a handful and they have a consistent group of forwards."
Kick off is set for 2:45pm at Connaught Park on Saturday, April 20th.
Around the league…
Top-ranked Burnaby Lake Rugby Club (9-4) are at home to the Bayside Sharks (2-11) in a must-win match to see the side retain first place heading into the playoffs. No.2 James Bay (9-4) are currently level in points but will have a tough task of running up the score for tie-breakers when hosting the no. 6 UVic Vikes (5-7-1) at MacDonald Park. Currently sitting in third place, the North Shore's Capilano RFC (9-4) could potentially leap frog Burnaby and James Bay in the standings with a win over the no. 7 UBCOB Ravens (3-8-2). The semifinals are currently slated for Saturday, May 4th and the Rounsefell Cup Final will be played on Saturday, May 11th.
Premier League Scoring Race
139 pts - James Reekie (Burnaby Lake)
75 pts - Pat Kay (UVic Vikes)
75 pts - Eric Wilson (Meraloma)
65 pts - Beau Parker (UVic Vikes)
59 pts - Admir Cejvanovic (Burnaby Lake)
54 pts - Dan Kilpatrick (James Bay)
45 pts - Joe Dolesau (Burnaby Lake)
45 pts - Mike Hall (Meraloma)
42 pts - Sean White (James Bay)
40 pts - Matt Alexander (Burnaby Lake)