VANCOUVER, BC - Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League newcomers Vancouver Rowing Club are one of five clubs currently sitting with 4-4 records and are jockeying for a playoff berth with six games left in the season. After dropping three straight, the Rowers posted their first win of 2014 last weekend, defeating Vancouver rivals Meraloma by a score of 34-10.
The Rowers will head to Victoria this Saturday for a clash with CW (4-4), a team they lost to by three points on February 15th.
"I'm not sure there has been this much parity in the Premier League before and it's a great thing to see," said Rowers head coach Jeremy Sabell. "Usually there is such a clear divide between the top four teams and the bottom half, but that isn't the case this year. Week to week you won't know what 15 is going to be fielded by your opponents which opens up opportunities and makes everybody beatable."
Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League - Sat. March 1st:
Vancouver Rowing Club at Castaway Wanderes RFC (Windsor Park) 2:45pm
UVic Vikes at Burnaby Lake (Burnaby Lake Sports Complex) 2:45pm
James Bay AA at UBCOB Ravens (Jericho Park) 2:45pm
Meraloma at Capilano RFC (Klahanie Park) 2:45pm
Sabell will be hoping that's the case this weekend when his squad battle the Castaway Wanderers at Windsor Park, a team that has reenforced their roster with multiple Canada-capped standouts. The CW forwards will be a handful with the likes of national team reps Hubert Buydens, Andrew Tiedamann, Jake Ilnicki and John Phelan in the mix. Former Canadian international and World Cup veteran Ander Monro has also returned, calling the shots from fly half. Most of the top lineup were available on February 15th when the Rowers played them close, but Sabell knows both teams have found their footing since.
"I'm expecting [CW] to be quite a bit sharper than the last time we saw them," Sabell added. "There were lots of mistakes from both sides two weeks ago but I've watched game film from their win against James Bay and they look quite a bit stronger. We may have had an element of surprise the first time we played, but we won't have that advantage this time around."
The Rowers' roster has shown plenty of potential and with two 19-year-old Canada-U20 prospects in the front row, will pose a stiff challenge. Props Jake Chawhan of Ottawa and Alex Forrest of PEI have made immediate impacts and with Chris Seyler a standout out at hooker, the front row won't see the Rowers at any disadvantage.
Key veterans to lead the charge also include Duncan James who returns from England. James was a key piece in the Rowers' back-to-back Division One championships before being promoted to the Premier League this past summer.
The squad isn't short on experience and Captain Phil Hosie and no.8 George Richmond continue to produce strong performances.
"Honestly we are yet to see the best from our back line," Sabell added. "If we can get better conditions and dryer ground, we will be able to see what they are capable of. We know that we need a 15-man game in order to be successful at this level."
CW's veterans will also be crucial to their second half success, says head coach Ian Hyde-Lay who will be relying on the likes of leaders Matt Buckley, Riley Ilnicki and Clayton Daum.
"We have a lot of ground to make up, but there is still time to reach the final four and qualify for playoffs," said Hyde-Lay. "It will not be easy."
Around the League
Table-leaders Burnaby Lake (7-1) will host the no.4 UVic Vikes (4-4) at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex this Saturday. The Vikes have dropped two straight and are just three points clear of the no.5 UBCOB Ravens with both teams eyeing a top-four finish. The Ravens are at home this weekend and will face no.2 James Bay (5-3) at Jericho Park. No.8 Meraloma (0-8) heads to the North Shore for a clash against historic rivals no.3 Capilano RFC (4-4).
CDI Premier League Standings:
35 pts - Burnaby Lake Rugby Club
26 pts - James Bay AA
22 pts - Capilano RFC
22 pts - UVic Vikes
19 pts - UBCOB Ravens
18 pts - Vancouver Rowing Club
18 pts - Castaway Wanderers
5 pts - Meraloma
68 pts - Fergus Hall (UVic Vikes)
55 pts - Geoff Ryan (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
50 pts - Mike Hall (Meraloma)
40 pts - Taylor Dalziel (James Bay AA)
37 pts - Matt Sims (Capilano RFC)
35 pts - Joe Dolesau (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
30 pts - Brian Murphy (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
30 pts - Clayton Meers (James Bay AA)
28 pts - Matt Yanagiya (Capilano RFC)
27 pts - Shane O'Connor (UBCOB Ravens)