LANGFORD, BC - Just a single penalty in the second half was indicative of how tight Friday night's Canadian Rugby Championship clash was between the BC Bears (0-2) and two-time defending MacTier Cup champions Ontario Blues (2-0). The Blues would end up squeaking out a 11-7 win as Canadian international Liam Underwood (Balmy Beach) provided two crucial penalties to post the important road victory.
"When you come to BC you have to get the win, it's a tough place to play," said Ontario head coach Chris Silverthorn. "Defensively both sides were really strong and BC really disrupted our play. We had no go forward ball and it was very physical rugby."
It was Ontario who were first on the score board when Canada Under-20 grad Lucas Hammond (Toronto Nomads) barrelled over in the corner to go up 5-0 just two minutes into the game. Underwood's conversion went wide, however, and it was BC who were on the front foot for the following minutes.
BC's inside centre pairing produced the next try as Joe Dolesau (Burnaby Lake) shook off several tacklers before offloading to Matt Buckley (Castaway Wanderers) who crashed through for the try in the 12th minute. Victoria local Connor Braid (James Bay) slotted the conversion and gave the hosts a 7-5 lead.
Underwood would convert a 21st minute penalty and the score would sit at 8-7 in favour of Ontario at the half.
The second frame provided ample scoring opportunities for both sides but it was BC who felt they left the most points on the field, knocking it on and losing possession twice inside the five metre line.
"It was a massive improvement and a great effort by our guys," said BC Bears head coach Jim Dixon. "But we just have to take the chances when they're there and need to be ruthless when we're in scoring position."
The second half featured just a single penalty as Underwood would put Ontario up 11-7 in the 59th minute.
The remaining quarter was back and forth rugby with both sides failing to convert pressure into points. A series of attacking phases by BC resulted in knock ons before Ontario scrum half Jamie Mackenzie (Oakville Crusaders) finally kicked the ball into touch for the win.
The Bears will now regroup for their Monday afternoon 4:45 clash against the Rock at Westhills Stadium.
"We just need to crease out a few mistakes and build our phases," said BC try-scorer Matt Buckley. "It's almost there and we need to just not panic when we have those opportunities."
Ontario heads to Alberta for a clash against the Prairie Wolf Pack. The two sides will square off at Calgary Rugby Park at 1:00pm on Monday afternoon.
BC Bears: 7
Tries: Matt Buckley
Conversions: Connor Braid
Ontario Blues: 11
Tries: Lucas Hammond
Penalties: Liam Underwood x2
BC Bears Roster vs Ontario
1. Clayton Thornber (Castaway Wanderers)
2. Andrew Lackner (Burnaby Lake)
3. Scott Mackay (Burnaby Lake)
4. Shea Wakefield (UVic Vikes)
5. Aaron Flagg (Abbotsford RFC)
6. Callum Morrison (Meraloma Rugby Club)
7. Dustin Dobravsky (UVic Vikes)
8. Chris Chalmers (Abbotsford RFC)
9. Henry Recinos (Vancouver Rowing Club)
10. Connor Braid (James Bay AA)
11. Luke McCloskey (UVic Vikes)
12. Matt Buckley (Castaway Wanderers)
13. Joe Dolesau (Burnaby Lake)
14. Caleb Hansen (Vancouver Rowing Club)
15. Sean Ferguson (UBC Thunderbirds)
16. Alex Boyd (Meraloma Rugby Club)
17. Ryan March (Abbotsford RFC)
18. Jim de Goede (James Bay AA)
19. Adam Kleeberger (UVic Vikes)
20. Evan Thomas (Burnaby Lake)
21. Pat Kay (UVic Vikes)
22. Clayton Meeres (James Bay AA)
Bears Team Staff
Head Coach - Jim Dixon
Assistant Coach - Kenny Goodland
Manager - Hans de Goede
Athletic Therapist - Michelle Jones
Team Doctor - Dr. Don Hedges
Ontario roster vs BC
1. Tom Dolezel (London St. George’s)
2. Ray Barkwill (Niagara Wasps)
3. Doug Wooldridge (Lindsay RFC)
4. Hank McQueen (Balmy Beach)
5. Scott Dunham (Balmy Beach)
6. Mark MacSween (Balmy Beach)
7. Alistair Clark (Bay Street)
8. Pat Richardson (Markham Irish)
9. Jamie Mackenzie (Oakville Crusaders)
10. Derek Daypuck, Captain, (London St. George’s)
11. Lucas Hammond (Toronto Nomads)
12. Mike Sholz, (Oakville Crusaders)
13. Jordan Wilson-Ross (Barrie RFC)
14. Jake Webster (Lindsay RFC)
15. Liam Underwood (Balmy Beach)
16. Seb Pearson (London St. George’s)
17. Creag Johnston (Toronto Scottish)
18. Haddon Murray (Balmy Beach)
19. Tim Richardson (Markham Irish)
20. Andrew Ferguson (Oakville Crusaders)
21. Jesse Lofthouse (Markham Irish)
22. Dan Moor (Balmy Beach)
Ontario Blues Team Staff
Head Coach - Chris Silverthorn
Manager - Mark Winokur
Assistant Coaches - Paul Connelly, Paul Ambrose
Video Analyst - Rodin Lozada
Athletic Therapist - Chris Kelly
Team Doctor - Dr. Chris Gallimore
Referee - Chris Assmus
Assistant Referee - Michael Jones
Assistant Referee - Nathan Abdelnour