The University of Calgary Dinos defended their title as CanWest Champions, beating the University of British Columbia – Okanagan Heat 31-15 in the final on Sunday. The bronze final was claimed by the University of Saskatchewan with a 22-5 win over the University of Regina Cougars.
After winning the regular season and coming in as the #1 seed, the lone BC representative in the Prairies-based competition won their semifinal matchup against the University of Regina 22-12, scoring two tries in the opening minutes to quickly take the wind out of the Cougars’ sails en route to an appearance in the tournament final.
The Heat put enormous pressure on the hosting Dinos in the opening 10 minutes, only allowing Calgary out of their half once. UBCO had an opportunity to score the opening points with a penalty kick 15 minutes in but the kick was placed wide.
The first score of the game saw Dinos #8 Shawn Williams peel off the back of a maul to score. In the ensuing kick-off, Dinos lock Dave Matthews caught the ball on the run to go 60 metres down the field before passing to Kaiden Powell on an inside pass to score. Josh Windley converted.
UBCO had many opportunities at the end of the first half, threatening the Dinos in their 22 but the hosts held strong, relieving pressure with physicality at the breakdown. The score 12-0 for the Dinos at half.
The second half opened with a mistake on the kick-off, capitalized on by Player of the Year winner Oliver White, whose 50-metre run gave the Dinos their third try. The Heat would get on the scoreboard shortly after with a cheeky midfield kick that was subsequently recovered by the Heat fullback who passed to his winger to slide into the corner, the score now 17-5.
Calgary answered back through the strength of their forward pack following a penalty and kick to the corner. The resulting maul rewarding prop Matthew Curran and another successful convert for Josh Windley, making it 24-5. The Heat showed no quit and marched the Dinos down to similar field position with a line-out in the corner, opting to move the ball wide with lock Treasure Aniki waiting on the wing to touchdown in the corner to bring it to 24-10 for the Dinos.
The two sides traded tries to close out out the game with the open side wingers from both sides scoring in their respective ends. The final score ended 31-15 for the hosts, retaining the CanWest Cup.
Fourth year Dino and captain Ryan Littlewood, commended his team: “This was a very big year for our team, and I am so proud of every single member. We had holes to fill and had a lot of new players step up to the plate. UBCO gave us a heck of a fight today, but it was a well earned, physical victory. We are all looking forward to the future of our team.”
The CanWest Men’s Rugby Championship is comprised of six universities: Mount Royal University, University of British Columbia – Okanagan, University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan.
The winner of CanWest has travelled to Kelowna the past two years to play the loser of the UBC-UVic game for a berth to the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship. This year, the CanWest Champion will make the trek to Langley, BC to play UVic on November 9 at Trinity Western University. In following years a dedicated berth will be allotted to the winner of this competition.
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