The second game of a long weekend double header for both the Ontario Blues and the Prairies Wolf Pack promised to be an important match up. Both sides were looking to stake their claim as the table leader charging into the final weeks of the 2013 CRC campaign.
The Blues arrived in Calgary on Saturday after squeaking by the BC Bears 11-7 in a hard fought defensive battle on Friday at Westhills Stadium in Langford. The same evening, the Wolf Pack avenged their recent loss to the Rock with a decisive 47-27 victory at home. The Friday results painted a compelling backdrop to the Monday afternoon match between the Blues and the Wolf Pack.
Despite an early grip on possession and territorial position by the Wolf Pack, the Blues weathered the early pressure and carved out a decisive 53-23 victory. The game conditions were ideal as the Calgary weather offered up a warm, dry day with a light breeze with a crowd of 200 on hand.
The Wolf Pack set the tempo early, putting pressure on the Blues defence and forcing the visitors to react to early charges deep into their end. At the 8 minute mark the Blues conceded a penalty and Wolf Pack fly half Gordon McRorie slotted a 38 metre penalty goal to establish a 3-0 lead for the home team, and further increase his lead atop the CRC scoring leaders. The Wolf Pack continued to put the Blues under pressure and the visitors held well with solid tackling and well placed clearing kicks to fend off the attacks by the Wolf Pack.
At the 14 minute mark, Wolf Pack wing Ian Shoults made a try saving tackle to hold the Blues off the board. The Blues seemed to be bolstered by the near try and began to challenge the Wolf Pack defence with probing runs that featured some exciting linking between Seb Pearson at eight and Jamie Mackenzie at scrumhalf. The Blues effort was finally rewarded at the 18 minute when outside centre, Jordan Wilson-Ross crossed over to score a try under the posts. Fly half Liam Underwood easily converted, providing the visitors with a 7-3 lead.
The Wolf Pack responded from the restart and attacked with vigour and renewed focus. The teams shared equally in possession and territory until the 26th minute when the Blues took a quick tap from a Wolf Pack infringement at the scrum. Mackenzie linked up with Ray Barkwill and the Blues hooker charged 25 metres before deftly offloading to Scott Sunham, allowing the Blues lock to punch through a try for the visitors. Another straightforward conversion for Underwood extended the visitors lead to 14-3.
The restart saw the Wolf Pack again exert pressure on the Blues. The visitors were up to the home team’s offensive challenge and served up several exciting attacks deep into Wolf Pack territory. Blues’ scrumhalf Mackenzie worked well with Pearson and the Blues flankers, orchestrating some great phases that stretched the Wolf Pack defense. The Wolf Pack were penalized for failing to release the ball and delivered a very kickable penalty to Underwood at the 33 minute mark. The Blues kicker would not be denied and added an additional 3 points to the visitors lead.
Shortly after the restart, Blues centre Derek Daypuck made an excellent read and attempted an intercept on an errant Wolf Pack pass at the Blues 22 metre line. The ball was just out of Daypuck’s grasp and he knocked the ball on, spoiling what would have been a certain try for Daypuck.
Five minutes later, the Blues capitalized on a ball handling error by the Wolf Pack, and after several phases that covered 60 metres, Blues winger Ryan MacSween trotted over to place down another try for the Blues. Underwood slotted the conversion and the Blues closed out the half leading the Wolf Pack 24 – 3.
After the interval, and 53 seconds into the second half, blues Flanker Cam Stones was shown a yellow card. The Wolf Pack took this opportunity to work hard to close the lead held by the visitors. At the 2:40 mark, the Blues were penalized for hands in the ruck and McRorie struck a 30 metre penalty goal, closing the gap and energizing the hometown fans.
The lift was short lived as Blues scrumhalf Mackenzie touchdown for a try at 6:40, easily converted by Underwood, delivering a 31 – 6 lead for the Blues. Three minutes later, Mackenzie launched a brilliant individual effort and was heading for another major, only to be denied by a try saving tackle by Wolf Pack winger Duncan Maguire.
At 11:36, Blues replacement prop Creag Johnston linked up with Barkwill and crossed over for another Blues try. Underwood was served up an easy conversion directly in front of the posts and he extended the visitor lead to 38- 6. The Wolf Pack made 4 substitutions in an attempt to re-energize the squad. Three minutes later the Wolf Pack scored their first try of the match when winger Shoults offloaded to Mozac Samson and the centre touched down in the corner. McRorie’s conversion attempt sailed wide and the score was now 38-11 for the Blues.
The Blues capitalized on a Wolf Pack penalty eight minutes later, when Underwood struck a 35 metre penalty goal, giving the Blues a 41-11 lead. Five minutes later Mozac crossed over for his second try of the game. The conversion by McRorie reduced the Blues lead to 41-18.
Three minutes later the Blues backline would deftly move the ball to replacement winger Jake Webster, who would touchdown for a Blues try in the corner. The score presented Underwood with a difficult conversion, resulting in his only missed kick of the afternoon. Blues lead was now 46-18.
Blues replacement fullback, Lucas Hammond, then evaded several tacklers and burst through the Wolf Pack backline to score a try at 35 minutes. Hammond’s effort set Underwood up for a straightforward conversion, stretching the Blues lead to 53-18.
At 42 minutes, the Wolf Pack would close the match with a try. Samson drew in two Blues tacklers, providing a gap for winger Shoults to exploit. Shoults offloaded to winger Maguire, who drove through to touch down in the corner. McRorie faced a difficult conversion and pushed the ball to the right of the goalposts. The final whistle delivered a decisive 53-23 win for the Blues.
The Blues clearly demonstrated they are the class of the 2013 CRC campaign. Mackenzie was a threat throughout the match and orchestrated many of the Blues offensive efforts, ably supported by Barkwill and the Blues back row forwards. Underwood was nearly perfect with the boot and was solid on defense.
The Wolf Pack struggled under the pressure of the Blues attack. Shoults and Samson were bright lights for the home team, creating some exciting offense and delivering consistent defense throughout the match.
The Blues now hold a 3-0 record, having defeated each of the three other CRC competitors and positioning the team well for a possible third successive MacTier Cup.
Tries: Scott Dunham , Lucas Hammond , Craeg Johnston , Jamie Mackenzie , Dan Moor , Jake Webster , Jordan Wilson-Ross
Conversions: Liam Underwood (6)
Penalty: Liam Underwood (2)
Prairie Wolf Pack
Tries: Mozac Samson, Ducan McGuire
Conversions: Gordon McRorie
Penalties: Gordon McRorie
1. Tyler Hawes Cochrane AB Canucks
2. Casey Reed Airdrie AB Hornets
3. Scott Franklin Victoria BC Castaway Wanderers
4. Ian Huston Calgary AB Saints
5. Joshua Schlebach Calgary AB CCIAC
6. John Anderson Calgary AB Hornets
7. Kyle Gilmour 'C' Edmonton AB St. Albert
8. Clayton Panga 'C' Calgary AB Hornets
9. James Buchanan Calgary AB Hornets
10. Gordon McRorie Calgary AB Hornets
11. Duncan Maguire St. Albert AB St. Albert
12. Mozac Samson Calgary AB Saints
13. Adam Bontus Edmonton AB St. Albert
14. Ian Shoults Calgary AB Canucks
15. Carl Pocock Calgary AB Hornets
16. Pete Houlihan Edmonton AB Druids
17. Spencer Massiah Calgary AB Hornets
18. Dustin Luther Aylesbury SK Regina Campion Grads
19. Mike Berry Red Deer AB Red Deer Titans
20. Kyle Rawon Calgary AB Hornets
21. Graeme Dibden Edmonton AB Clansmen
22. Adam McQueen Canmore AB Hornets
Head Coach: Graeme Moffat, Calgary AB
Coach: Col Jeffs, Cowra NSW
Manager: Jim Kazakoff, Calgary AB
Asst. Manager: Jo Reinbold, Edmonton AB
Therapists: Rebecca Spears, Olds AB; Nicole Ainsworth Calgary AB
Strength & Conditioning: Peak Power
Director of Rugby: Ryan Smith, Calgary AB
Totem Patrick Allan Swayze, The Prairies
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. Cam Stones Ajax
7. Alistair Clark Bay Street
8. Seb Pearson London St. George's
9. Jamie Mackenzie Oakville Crusaders
10. Liam Underwood Balmy Beach
11. Ryan MacSween Balmy Beach
12. Derek Daypuck 'C' London St. George's
13. Jordan Wilson-Ross Barrie RFC
14. Dan Moor Balmy Beach
15. Jesse Lofthouse Markham Irish
16. Creag Johnston Toronto Scottish
17. Djustice Sears-Duru Oakville Crusaders
18. Haddon Murray Balmy Beach
19. Tim Richardson Markham Irish
20. Andrew Ferguson Oakville Crusaders
21. Jake Webster Lindsay RFC
22. Lucas Hammond Toronto Nomads
Head Coach: Chris Silverthorn
Assistant Coach: Paul Connelly
Assistant Coach: Paul Ambrose
Manager: Mark Winokur
Athletic Therapist: Chris Kelly
Video Analyst: Rodin Lozada Team Doctor: Dr. Chris Callimore