Friday, September 19, 2014 - Submitted by Jeff Robinson - Wolf Pack Communications
The Wolf Pack have taken a huge step forward to their first ever Canadian Rugby Championship title with a decisive 31 – 10 away victory over the Rock. This was a vital match for a Wolf Pack side who have championship aspirations. A loss, or even just a non-bonus point victory, would have been a huge setback in their title hopes. Instead they now head to Peterborough in control of their own destiny.
It was vital that the Pack did not look past the Rock today, and they didn’t. As expected the Rock put up much stiffer resistance then they did in Calgary, but the cohesiveness and the determination of the Pack’s forwards saw them home to victory. The Rock had named five new starters in their forwards and proved to be a far more competitive side at the breakdown, as well as around the park in general. They fought for every inch of territory on the pitch and never gave up, but were unable to break the Pack’s line of defence, except on one occasion. The Pack, however, would cross the Rock’s try line four times. Eventually scoring the, all important, fourth try in the final minute of the match, when victory was already assured.
It was the Pack’s forwards that saw them home to victory today, as all four of the Pack’s tries came from the pack. Three of the four tries, which included the aforementioned vital fourth try from Captain Kyle Gilmour, came from the backrow. The Pack’s backrowers were the deciders tonight. Clayton Panga opened the scoring for the Pack in the first half. Jeremy Kyne would then score a nice try off the base of the scrum later in the half and the trifecta of tries from them was finished off with the crucial try from Gilmour near the end of match. Houlihan would be the only non-backrower to cross the try line for the Pack, early in the second half. Meanwhile, McRorie would keep up his excellent kicking stats buy converting all four Pack tries and also converting on a penalty.
Of equal importance in this win, was the strong defense from the Pack, which was able to keep this match from being too close. Only once did the Rock cross the Pack’s try line, which was also converted. Whenever the Rock were able to break through the Pack’s defensive line the cover D were able to get back on a consistent basis. The Pack would also only concede one converted penalty in this match too. It should also be mentioned that this was only the Pack’s third victory on the rock and Gilmour’s first as captain.
Peter Houlihan and Kyle Gilmour were the two key standouts for the Pack tonight. Meanwhile, both James Smith and Evan Olmstead most likely solidified their selection for the Americas Rugby Championship side. Both Smith and Olmstead continued their terrific first season with the Pack by again delivering solid performances tonight. Winger Adam Bontus, who launched a vital counterattack for the Pack that lead to a key try, also put his name up for selection for the ARC. Clayton Panga, who quietly has had a stellar season, also crossed the line for a try and should have forced his name into some discussion for possible selection.
Wolf Pack young hooker, Matt Harrison, also had another strong game for the Pack. While only being 19, he has come a long way in his first season with the Pack and a call up for the ARC might not be out of the question. His work around the pitch and his place in the set piece were both excellent again.
Next up for the Pack is the trip to Ontario to face the Blues. This will be no easy task, but if the Pack can win with a bonus point on Sunday, and deny the Blues a bonus point, they will win the championship for the first time in their history. The match against the Blues is this Sunday at 1 PM Local time, 11 AM MT, and a live stream should be available. Meanwhile, the Rock will finish up their CRC campaign with home games against the Bears, on Sunday, and the Blues next Saturday.
Score: Wolf Pack 31 – 10 Rock
Wolf Pack: Tries: Peter Houlihan, Clay Panga, Jeremy Kyne, Kyle Gilmour Conversions:McRorie (4) Penalty: McRorie
Replacements 16. Ryan Ackerman 17. Ryan Kotlewski 18. Casey Reed 19. Spencer Massiah 20. Steve Arnold 21. Adam McQueen 22. James Buchanan 23. John Moloney
Atlantic Rock line up: 1. FRANK WALSH 2. OWEN PARFREY – CAPT 3. BOB ROGERS 4. JUSTIN MEYERS 5. BRAD LESTER 6. KYLE BAILLIE 7. MIKE HAMSON 8. 8 ZAC COUGHLAN 9. TONY POMEROY 10. BEN HARRIS 11. ROBERT WILSON 12. COLIN ALEXANDER 13. CIARAN HEARN 14. PATRICK MCNICHOLAS 15. ALEX ROGERS
Replacements 16. JORDON POWER 17. STEVE CUTCLIFFE 18. ALEX FORREST 19. CHRIS BROWNE 20. ALEX CALON 21. ADAM PAUL 22. TIM HART 23. MORGAN LOVELL