The Rock blasted into the Canadian Rugby Championship Saturday with a massive 33-0 win over the Ontario Blues.
Hosting the Blues at Swilers Rugby Complex in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in the opener of the 2010 CRC, The Rock utilized a mix of midfield attack, counter-attack and strong defence to score a bonus-point victory in front of more than 1,000 spectators.
Both teams would have been mindful of their performances, as among the spectators were the watchful eyes of senior men’s national coach Kieran Crowley and high performance director Geraint John.
Earlier in the week, Rock coach Pat Parfrey said his team hoped to avenge a 2009 loss to the Blues and he was impressed with the manner in which his team granted that wish.
“The revenge wasn’t as important as playing properly,” Parfrey said. “We played properly and now we’ve got to play B.C. in B.C. and that will be a trial. We will need to play properly again there.”
While his team kept the Blues scoreless, Parfrey said there was still some work to be done in defence as some players were shooting up from the line and creating opportunities for the Blues.
However, The Rock’s midfield play was strong and former Canadian sevens player Richard O’Malley had a big game at scrum half.
“My feeling was that our three-quarter line was talented and had the opportunity to better Ontario,” Parfrey said. “They were very consistent. I think Richard O’Malley was the man of the match for us.”
The Blues looked threatening to begin with, kicking off and regathering the ball before shifting the ball wide and using offloads to keep the game flowing. The visitors pressured the line on a couple of occasions, but The Rock’s tackles held.
Blues fly half Ander Monro missed an opportunity to give his team an early lead, attempting a difficult penalty kick from just inside his half and pushing it wide of the uprights.
As evidence of the close nature of the game, the first points conceded were the result of an error. Twenty-six minutes in, Monro made an uncharacteristic mistake under a high ball, knocking it on and allowing his opposite number, Dean Blanks to retrieve it.
Blanks went to ground, a ruck was formed and the ball was sent through the backline for Geoff Warden to score. Blanks’ conversion attempt was successful.
The Rock’s second try came just before the close of the half and was initially set up by a run from O’Malley who made a break from a Rock scrum before offloading over his left shoulder to winger Ciarin Hearn in support.
Shortly after the O’Malley-Hearn combination, The Rock scrum half was at it again.
O’Malley broke from a ruck, performed a dummy-switch pass to put centre Tyler Wish to send him through a gap for an easy try under the posts.
The conversion was good by Blanks and The Rock led 14-0 at halftime.
The Blues that had the first chance to score in the second, after they staged a maul from a five-metre lineout, phased the ball toward the line in waves of attack only to have prop Doug Woolridge knock the ball on over the line.
The Rock managed to swing the momentum in their favour again, shortly afterwards, when Ontario replacement John Moonlight dropped the ball and The Rock cleaned it up and spread it to Hearn, who kicked ahead to himself and pulled the ball in before diving over the line.
The conversion attempt by Blanks was unsuccessful, but The Rock led 19-0 at the 22-minute mark in the second.
The Rock’s backs took advantage of the Blues for the final two tries. The first saw O’Malley again make a big break before setting up for Blanks to send a cross-field kick to fullback Morgan Lovell who was driven over the line by Hearn.
Warden then scored his second of the game, less than 10 minutes later, when he fielded a bad clearance attempt by the Blues and was able to run under the posts.
Both late tries were converted by Blanks.
Blues manager Mark Winokur was at the helm in the absence of Les Gilson and was severely disappointed with the result and found it difficult to draw any positives from the game.
“We simply were outplayed by a team that wanted it more,” he said. “They outhustled us and outworked us at the breakdown. For the most part, it was pretty disappointing.”
While The Rock take from the win a morale boost and bonus point, they also leave with one less squad member.
Unfortunately, promising young back Pat Parfrey junior suffered a fractured/dislocated ankle late in the game after coming on as a substitution Tyler Wish in the second half.
Coach Parfrey said the player was in surgery immediately after the game and would be out for the season.
The Canadian Rugby Championship resumes next weekend, when the B.C. Bears travel to Calgary Rugby Park to face the Prairie Wolf Pack on Saturday, August 14 at 6:30 p.m. (MST).
The Rock 33 – Ontario Blues 0.
Rock tries – Jeff Warden (2), Tyler Wish, Ciaran Hearn, Morgan Lovell.
Rock conversions – Dean Blanks (4/5).
Referee – Bryan Arciero.
The Rock lineup
1. Frank Walsh
2. Peter Densmore (C)
3. Rod Snow
4. Brad Lester
5. Jon Phelan
6. Jebb Sinclair
7. Kevin Parfrey
8. Ken Goodland
9. Rich O’Malley
10. Dean Blanks
11. Robert Wilson
12. Tyler Wish
13. Geoff Warden
14. Ciaran Hearn
15. Morgan Lovell
16. Chris Burt
17. Owen Parfrey
18. Toni Wodzicki
19. Zac Coughlan
20. Cyril Bugden
21. Patrick Parfrey (fly half)
22. Ben Trevorrow (wing)
Ontario Blues lineup
1. Doug Wooldridge
2. Mike Pletch
3. Dan Pletch (C)
4. Brett Beukeboom
5. Stu Ault
6. Keegan Selby
7. Alistair Clark
8. Mark Macsween
9. Adam Schouten
10. Ander Monro
11. Hugh Mcdonnell
12. Ryan Tomlinson
13. Dan West
14. Ryan Macsween
15. Steve P