Maybe it was a tad pre-emptive to declare a BC Bears revival, as they were put to the sword by the Ontario Blues for 70 minutes at Klahanie Park. Three tries in the dying minutes dramatically altered the scoreline but the the visitors were in cruise control at that point and it was too little, far too late to be of consequence. It was the 11th consecutive league win for the Blues, dating back to September 1st of 2012, and the undefeated two-game western road trip now puts them in pole position to take top honours for the 4th straight season.
The game started well for the Bears, with early pressure set up by the aerial skills of Conor Trainor eventually leading to a penalty goal from Pat Kay. Ontario were quick to reply, however, with a try through winger Dan Moor and then two Derek Daypuck penalty goals as the pressure started to mount. Trainor was accused of some excessive handiwork by the assistant referee and dispatched for a ten-minute break, but the initial penalty was all the Blues could muster as the Bears held out until the break.
Led by their all-Canadian front row of Tom Dolezel, Ray Barkwill, and Doug Wooldridge, the Blues exerted their dominance up front and it paved the way for a second Moor try shortly after the half, and as the gap widened Chase Kelliher was found guilty of transgressing at the bottom of a ruck and sent to the bin to consider his actions. This time Ontario took full advantage and in quick succession Haddon Murray and Tim Richardson went over, killing any hope of a comeback for the home side.
As a raft of substitutes entered the game the Blues lost their shape and BC took advantage. The quick service of replacement scrumhalf Jorden Sandover-Best lifted the tempo noticeably and with Ontario now on the back foot, tries by Sean White, Bryan Tyrer, and Sandover-Best himself gave the fans something to take home after being disappointed for over an hour. The contrast between the two BC halfbacks was stark. White looked far more useful at fullback, displaying his pace and attacking ability, while at scrumhalf he once again struggled with the basics.
For their part, Ontario’s scrumhalves split their time, and both Andrew Ferguson and Jamie Mackenzie looked good, with crisp service and good direction of the forwards. While BC’s Admir Cejvanovic – despite coming off early with a blood injury – was individually the most impressive forward, as a whole the Blues were more technically sound and won the battles both at the breakdown and the set piece. Murray played like the extra back rower that he effectively is, and in the backs Jordan Wilson-Ross was powerful both with ball in hand and on defense.
The two sides will meet again in nine days time, but barring a major upset the de facto league final will take place a few days later when the Wolf Pack play the Blues in Peterborough. BC as a province will look to restore some pride on their east coast swing, and as players there are probably still one or two ARC spots yet to be decided. For Ontario the job is half-done, but the numbers clearly suggest that their vice-grip on the CRC will continue for at least one more season.
BC BEARS 20 vs 30 ONTARIO BLUES
Sunday, September 7, 13:00 PST, Vancouver
10 mins – P. Kay pen 3-0
14 mins – D. Moor try 3-5
21 mins – D. Daypuck pen 3-8
31 mins – D. Daypuck pen 3-11
47 mins – D. Moor try 3-16
64 mins – H. Murray try 3-21
65 mins – D. Daypuck con 3-23
67 mins – T. Richardson try 3-28
68 mins – D. Daypuck con 3-30
72 mins – S. White try 8-30
72 mins – P. Kay con 10-30
76 mins – B. Tyrer try 15-30
80 mins – J. Sandover-Best try 20-30
30 mins – C. Trainor yellow (foul play)
62 mins – C. Kelliher yellow (professional foul)
79 mins – J. Wilson-Ross (unsportsmanlike conduct)
S. Ferguson (J. Sandover-Best 66); C. Hansen (N. Yanagiya 16), C. Trainor, M. Fuailefau (B. Tyrer 69), J. Douglas; P. Kay, S. White; N. Barker (G. Garbe 55), M. Govorchin (A. Lackner 70), C. McClary (S. MacKay 60); C. Morrison (capt.), S. Wakefield; L. Campbell (T. de Goede HT), C. Kelliher, A. Cejvanovic (C. Chalmers 42).
L. Hammond; D. Moor (R. Lebel 55-65), J. Wilson-Ross, D. Daypuck (capt.), J. Webster; S. Windsor, A. Ferguson (J. Mackenzie HT); T. Dolezel (J. Rumball 55), R. Barkwill (S. Herron 70), D. Wooldridge (R. Brouwer 70); H. Murray, H. McQueen (S. Dunham 60); L. Rumball, A. Clark (P. Richardson 70), T. Richardson.
Referee: D. Smortchevsky (RC)
Assistants: C. Assmus (RC) & M. Jones (RC)