Friday, September 5, 2014 - Submitted by Jeff Robinson - Wolf Pack Communications
The Ontario Blues showed, Thursday night at Ellerslie Rugby Park, why they have won the last three Canadian Rugby Championship titles. The Blues dominated the breakdown, won the collisions, along with the line outs, and got the better of the Wolf Pack at the scrums. Jordan Wilson-Ross was outstanding on attack and a stalwart in defence, while Andrew Ferguson lead the Blues forwards around the park well.
Referee, Chris Assmus, first made his mark on the match when he yellow carded the Wolf Pack 12, Dustin MacPherson, for repeated infringements at the breakdown. This card, which was only seven minutes in, set the tone for the match and put the Pack on the defensive. Throughout the match the Blues would show their class and attacked the line well, forcing the Pack on the defensive and making them give away penalties while also starving them of the ball.
By the 20 minute mark the Pack had been a player down for ten minutes and were six down on the scoreboard. When the Pack did manage to get their hands on the ball, they would either turn the ball over at the breakdown or knock it on.
While the Wolf Pack struggled on attack, their defensive was, for the most part, solid. A goal line stand at the twenty-fifth minute mark saw the Wolf Pack defend their line well, resulting in Ontario being held up in the dead ball area. However, shortly after, Blues winger, Jake Webster, would score in the corner from a nice back line play which all started with the Blues turning the ball over at a ruck. Daypuck would miss the conversion, leaving the score at eleven to nothing.
Late in the first half, McRorie would get the Wolf Pack on the scoreboard with a penalty, due to Ontario being penalized for coming in from the side at a ruck. Just when it looked like the Wolf Pack were getting themselves back into the game, Ontario’s Jordan Wilson-Ross would score in the corner after another great little run by Webster. Daypuck woul this time convert the sideline conversion and suddenly the Pack were down by fifteen at the break.
The second half seemed to start well for the Pack, as they came out determine to prove themselves to the best in the competition and in front of the boisterous hometown crowd. Their intensity level had been raised and the Wolf Pack were now battling well at the breakdown. But once again a key member of the Pack would see yellow. This time it was scrumhalf McRorie who would see yellow for raking at a ruck. It was a devastating yellow which took the wind out of the Wolf Pack sails and again set them on the back foot.
There were moments of brilliance from the Wolf Pack, Shea O’Hallahan made some great breaks, as did Blevins. Olmstead was able to steal a couple of line outs and ran hard at the line all game. However, there was a lack of continuity from the Pack’s attacking play and phrases were not strung together.
When the Pack took the ball to the breakdown, they were often unable to secure possession as the Blues’ forwards were outstanding at causing havoc at the collision and counter-rucked superbly. Once again, the Wolf Pack’s inability to secure ball at the breakdown would cost them. This time a penalty at a breakdown, near halfway, would see the Blues take a quick tap and, after securing quick ball at a ruck, see Jordan Wilson-Ross score his second try of the game, again, in the corner.
The final quarter of the match would see the game breakdown into a start-stop affair with the intensity, that was seen in the previous twenty minutes, vanish. Both teams brought on the subs as they were mindful of the fact they both have to play on Sunday. With only a few minutes left in the match, the Blues would cross over the try line once more, to secure the four try bonus point, from another fine backline play.
The game ended as the Pack made one last attempt to get over the Blues try line, this time started by a great individual run by Clayton Panga and helped by some good recycled ball, but this attempt would end with a knock on.
The Wolf Pack will need to recover quickly as they play the Atlantic Rock on Sunday in Calgary in the final home game of the season. The Rock who suffered heavily at the hands of the B.C. Bears, 63 – 6, will have a lot to prove in that encounter and will not want to finish their road trip winless.