By Andrew Smith - with Files from Rugby Canada
St. John's, Nfld: Much to the delight of the rowdy fans at Swiler's Rugby Complex sporting symbols and megaphones, the Atlantic Rock won their final home game of the 2011 Canadian Rugby Championship, narrowly defeating the British Columbia Senior Men's Provincial Team 31-30.
In Ontario - the Blues clinched the 2011 championship with a 15-0 defeat of the Prairie Wolf Pack - sitting with 16 points in the table and one game remaining against The Rock next Saturday in Burlington.
In the Blues win at Burlington Rugby Club - wing Jordan Wilson Ross and scrum-half Kyle Armstrong hit for tries, while Steve Piatek slotted a penalty and a conversion for five points.
The young BC squad fought back from a 26-17 half time deficit, scoring two tries in the last ten minutes. In the final play of the game, with symbols ringing in his ear, BC full back Connor Braid stepped up to kick a penalty and struck the post.
"You have to remember that the last kick never wins or loses a match, it's the 20 minutes before that can determine the outcome of a game," said BC head coach Kris de Scossa. "We had several opportunities to score which we didn't convert into points."
The scoring opened with Rock fly half Dean Blanks kicking two penalties for a 6-0 lead. BC responded through Braid's boot, who pulled back three points with a penalty of his own.
Both sides recorded tries in the following 10 minutes with flanker Kevin Parfrey tallying the first for the Rock, which was converted by Blanks for a 13-3 lead. Braid finished off a series of well executed phases minutes later, to notch BC's first try and conversion to make it 13-10.
Zac Coughlan then punched in a converted try for the Rock and with another conversion and penalty from Blanks, put his side up 23-10.
Flying in from the back field, Connor Braid continued to shred tacklers eventually crossing over for another converted try.
Blanks had the final say before the half, however, kicking the last of his four penalties for the Rock to lead 26-17 going into the break.
The second half opened with BC on the attack but after a series of strong phases, Rock scrum half Mike Simpson picked off a pass to run half the field for an intercept try.
BC buckled down for the remaining minutes, holding the Rock off the score sheet. Down 31-17 in the final quarter, BC began to claw their way back into the game. Braid started a 13-point run for the visitors, kicking a penalty to make it 31-20.
Asserting themselves in the forwards, BC continued to dominate the breakdown and knew they had the upper hand when the Rock pack began opting for line outs over scrums. With the momentum well in their favour, the visitors began to find the openings.
Abbotsford RFC winger Conrad Rybkowski darted down the far sidelines crashing through for a try to make the score 31-25. Shawn Mercier of Meraloma Rugby Club was up next, finishing off a series of line breaks to barrel over and make it a one point game.
BC's final scoring opportunity came down to a penalty kick, which devastatingly struck the post and left the match at 31-30.
"As expected, the supporters at Swiler's were rowdy and provided an atmosphere our players haven't been exposed to this season," added De Scossa. "But I'm proud of our players, especially the young ones who maintained their composure despite all the distractions, and managed to play disciplined rugby."
"We took on a vastly more experienced team with Canadian internationals like Phil Mack and Rod Snow and only lost by one point," added De Scossa. "Look at our front row who played so well that The Rock were opting for lineouts over scrums. It was great to see players like Connor [Braid] and Conrad [Rybkowski] who sliced their defence with some amazing runs. We didn't get the result we were after today but we have achieved our measures of success by playing some great rugby."
BC finish the 2011 Canadian Rugby Championship with a 2-3 record and are currently sitting in third place. The final standings will be determined after The Rock and Ontario Blues square off next Saturday in Burlington, Ontario.
British Columbia: 30
Tries: Connor Braid x2, Conrad Rybkowski, Shawn Mercier
Conversions: Connor Braid x2
Penalties: Connor Braid x2
Tries: Kevin Parfrey, Zac Coughlan, Mike Simpson
Conversions: Dean Blanks x3
Penalties: Dean Blanks x4
BC Roster vs The Rock
1. Anthony Luca (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club) / 2. Edvin Sabic (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club) / 3. John Mackenzie (Meraloma Rugby Club) / 4. Liam Chisholm (Kelowna Crows RFC) / 5. Nathan Mantle (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club) / 6. Josh Clarke (Meraloma Rugby Club) 7.Chris Chalmers (Abbotsford RFC) / 8. Aaron Goddard (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
9. Eric Wilson (Meraloma Rugby Club) - Captain / 10. Bryan Tyrer (Meraloma Rugby Club) / 11.Shawn Mercier (Meraloma Rugby Club) / 12. Brock Staller (Meraloma Rugby Club) / 13. Josefa Dolesau (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club) / 14. Conrad Rybkowski (Abbotsford RFC) /15. Connor Braid (James Bay AA)
16. Andrew Lackner (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club) / 17. Scott MacKay (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club) / 18. Mike Georgas (Meraloma Rugby Club) / 19. Taylor Stogryn (Bayside RFC) / 20. Colin Mckenzie (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club) / 21. Johnathan Morris (Castaway Wanderers RFC) / 22. Matt Yanagiya (Capilano RFC)
Head Coach - Kris De Scossa / Manager - Connie McGinley / Doctor - Don Hedges / Therapist - Laura Andrews/ Analyst & Communications - Andrew Smith
BC 2011 CRC Results (2-3)
July 30th - BC Sr Men 43 - 19 The Rock
August 2nd – Ontario Blues 46 - 21 BC Sr Men
August 13th - BC Sr Men 31 - 29 Prairie Wolf Pack
Sat. August 20th - Wolf Pack 35 - 23 BC Sr Men
Sat. August 27th - The Rock 31 - 30 BC Sr Men
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