Saturday, September 21, 2013 - Submitted by Geoff Coughlan - Rock Media Manager
The Ontario Blues capped off their season as Canadian Rugby Championship champs by making it an undefeated 5-0 campaign after a hard fought 26-23 over The Rock in St. John's. This marks the first time in CRC history that a team has managed to go undefeated. Just prior to the official kick off, a ceremonial kick off was performed by Rock veteran Dean Blanks who was recently forced into retirement after a severe skull fracture suffered against the Wolf Pack in Calgary. The crowd of 500-600 gave Blanks a rousing ovation for his years of dedication and service to Rock rugby.
Once underway it was all Rock for the opening portion of the game as they dominated possession and enjoyed several phases of play. This led to a penalty opportunity at the 4 minute mark but Rock center and Canadian international Ciaran Hearn missed from 10 m. Moments later a slick break by Rock scrum half Adam Paul put the Blues under pressure but the opportunity was lost when the ball was knocked on. The Rock got on the scoreboard first at the 13 minute mark when flanker Kevin Parfrey touched down in the corner following an excursion up the touch line by #8 Zac Coughlan. The conversion was missed leaving it at 5-0 for The Rock.
Three minutes later the Blues were nabbed for being offside and Hearn made them pay by slotting the penalty from 30m. 8-0 Rock. Blues center and veteran Derek Daypuck and the Rock's Hearn each missed makeable penalties before the Blues got on the scoreboard through fly-half Matt Alexander's try following on a nice break by flanker Alistair Clark. Daypuck was good with the conversion to make it 8-7 for The Rock. The Blues took the lead at the 36 minute mark with Clark getting his own sniff of the line as he went over in the corner to cap off a period of Blues pressure. Daypuck was good with the extras and the half time score stood at 14-8 for the Blues.
Daypuck missed a chance to extend the lead early in the 2nd half as his penalty attempt was off target. Ten minutes later the Rock scored the try of the game when fly-half Patrick Parfrey's chip kick was collected in mid air inside the Blues 22m line by flanker Toni Wodziki. The ball was quickly moved left to prop Frank Walsh and center Geoff Warden who hit winger Robert Wilson on the fly to score in the corner. Hearn's conversion attempt missed making it 14-13 for the Blues.
The Rock retook the lead at 60 minutes when Parfrey pushed a grubber kick through the Blues and Wilson's follow-up forced the isolated Blues fullback to hold on to the ball for a penalty in front of the posts that Hearn slotted easily. 16-14 for The Rock. A Blues #8 Cam Stones try put the Blues back on top at 68 minutes after the Blues took advantage of a missed Rock touch kick to put together several phases of play. 19-16 Blues.
Five minutes later the crowd went wild as The Rock were back in the lead with a slashing run by Hearn leading to Wilson's second of the afternoon. Hearn's conversion was good making it 23-19 Rock with seven minutes left to play.
However, the Blues were not to be denied their undefeated season as they put the Rock under pressure on their goal line before a clever switch to replacement Mike Sheppard put him through a gap with just three minutes left to play. Daypuck was again good with the conversion to make the final score 26-23.