(TORONTO, ON) – Yesterday marked the final day of the 2016 Canadian Rugby Championship, presented by Johnsonville. The Ontario Blues went into their last game against the BC Bears tied for first place with the Prairie Wolf Pack with gold on their mind. The Atlantic Rock sat only one point behind them in the standings - making it a close race with any three of the top teams able to win it all on the final day.
The Prairie Wolf Pack defeated the Rock in an incredibly close 21-20 win earlier in the day at Swilers Rugby Club in St. Johns, N.L. Although the Blues only needed a win to finish atop the standings, they added a bonus point to finish at the top of the standings one point ahead of the Wolf Pack. They did just that shutting out western Canadian rivals BC Bears 50-21 at Fletcher’s Fields in Markham, ON.
With the match kicking off just after the Magnificent Sevens tournament ended, there was a large crowd out to support the home team as they picked up their fifth MacTier Cup in the past six seasons.
The Blues got onto the scoreboard early with a penalty kick from Andrew Ferguson in the 7th minute. Only 4 minutes later a Blues maul pushed Eric Howard over the try line allowing Ferguson to put another kick through the uprights to let the Bears know that Ontario came to play.
The Bears held strong for the rest of the half and kept the surging Blues at bay making it appear as though we were in for a close game. Ontario went to their room at half and came back with fire lit knowing what was on the line.
Only two minutes into the second half, Ontario lock Mike Sheppard stretched out to score the first try of the half while Ferguson made the conversion. Then in the 50th, 52nd and 59th minutes tries by Mitch Richardson, John Sheridan and Jordan Wilson-Ross increased the Blues lead to 36-0 making it seem as though there was no contest.
Just when the Blues thought they were in the clear, the BC side answered with two tries in two minutes by Josh Clark and Jorden Sandover-Best with two successful conversions by Brock Staller to let Ontario know they weren’t going out without a fight.
Their push was short lived when the Blues answered right back with two tries one minute apart from John Sheridan and Kainoa Lloyd – Mitch Richardson hit both conversions to bring the Blues to the 50 point mark.
The Bears had one final try in the last minute of the match from Gareth Marsden but it was too little too late. The Blues ran out the clock and secured their fifth Canadian Rugby Championship.
“The BC side kept the score close in the first half and definitely made us work” said Blues head coach Chris Silverthorn, following the match. “We knew what was at stake and although they finished at the bottom of the standings we definitely did not underestimate them and came in like any other game, ready to play”
“I’m so proud of all of these guys and all of the work they put in this year,” said captain Hank McQueen. “It feels good to win it all again and we worked well as a team - we also couldn’t have done it without all the staff that made it possible.”
In the day’s other game, the Wolf Pack nudged past the Atlantic Rock 21-20 with Robbie Povey kicking an 80th minute penalty to win the game. Povey added two other penalties as well as a conversion with John Braddock and Jake Robinson scoring tries for the visitors.
Final 2016 Canadian Rugby Championship presented by Johnsonville
1. Ontario Blues – 14 points
2. Prairie Wolf Pack – 13 points
3. Atlantic Rock – 9 points
4. BC Bears – 1 point.