A week on and this time in the Bears’ dwelling, but the result was the same, worse in fact, as the Wolf Pack embarrassed their hosts in CRC action on Saturday. The earlier defeat had come at played out in Calgary, and heavy-handed officiating had been partially to blame, but this time there was nowhere to turn. A new midfield and the return of three members of the national development squad couldn’t stem the tide, or even slow it down.
For their parts Admir Cejvanovic and Adam Zaruba were hardly in the game, each looking out of practice, and understandably so given that a week ago they were playing completely different roles in the Limerick 7s. Both were replaced early on, and each will be sorely disappointed. Sean Ferguson fared better, and was probably the best among the BC ranks, but fullback is a position more favorably comparable to the shortened game.
The rest were barely worth talking about, apart from perhaps captain Callum Morrison, who competed as best he could. Replacement Chris Chalmers, a Canadian rugby league international, looked willing when he replaced Cejvanovic at the half, but a bit undersized and more often than not isolated on his charges. Halfbacks Cody Rockson and Bryan Tyrer were harried at every turn by the excellent Wolf Pack back row and struggled to find any rhythm behind a beaten pack.
Meanwhile Gordon McRorie was far and away the best player on the pitch, in total command of his forwards and orchestrating superbly. He seamlessly flowed between speedy service, short sniping runs, and of course the hugely effective box kicks that the Wolf Pack were more than happy to chase down. His goal kicking was also on show, with three sucessful shots in each half combining with a try to total 20 points on the day.
Nick Blevins, who had a strong game, touched down with under two minutes on the clock as things started where they left off a week ago, but the game settled for a while as Tyrer and McRorie exchanged penalties. When impressive fullback Shea O’Hallahan stepped through the line to cross just before the break, it was game set and match. The Wolf Pack converted pressure into points and the Bears could only watch. Evan Olmstead was sent to the bin for a careless trip but nothing came of it, and instead McRorie closed the game out himself.
Questions must be made of the lacklustre showing from the Bears, particularly why so many of their national representatives have been thus far absent. If the CRC is the pathway to senior XVs selection, and it should be, it should have priority over an on ostensibly meaningless 7s tournament, particularly with World Cup spots to be determined in the coming months. Players like Sean White, Pat Kay, Mike Fuailefau, and Ryan March. Why was Jake Ilnicki running water? If Conor Trainor isn’t playing for Ontario, why not BC? Djustice Sears-Duru? Connor Hamilton, captain of our u20 team?
If the CRC is to flourish, it needs a full buy-in from it’s historically strongest province. If these absences are Rugby Canada’s doing, it needs to be rectified immediately. There’s no sense asking the best from the rest of the country to take part if the best from the west aren’t there.
The Wolf Pack, at least, are propping up their end of the bargain, and are now in fine position to make a run at the title that has thus far eluded them. With the BC matches out of the way, the real test will come when the defending Ontario Blues arrive at Ellerslie Park on September 4th, and then a fortnight later in Guelph, followed quickly by the Rock in St. John’s. With the Bears clearly half way to hibernation, it’s the Wolves who now gather strength.
BC BEARS 3 vs 30 WOLF PACK
Saturday, August 16, 19:00 PST, Kelowna
02 mins – N. Blevins try 0-5
03 mins – G. McRorie con 0-7
19 mins – B. Tyrer pen 3-7
27 mins – G. McRorie pen 3-10
35 mins – S. O’Hallahan try 3-15
36 mins – G. McRorie con 3-17
50 mins – G. McRorie pen 3-20
53 mins – G. McRorie pen 3-23
61 mins – G. McRorie try 3-28
62 mins – G. McRorie con 3-30
39 mins – E. Olmstead yellow (foul play)
S. Ferguson; C. Hansen, N. Yanagiya (B. Staller 62), J. Gotegote, A. Zaruba (J. Morris 54); B. Tyrer, C. Rockson (J. Sandover-Best 54); N. Barker (G. Garbe 62), M. Govorchin (A. Lackner 59), S. MacKay (C. McClary HT); C. Morrison (capt.), S. Wakefield (G. Kalar 59); L. Campbell, C. Kelliher, A. Cejvanovic (C. Chalmers HT).
S. O’Hallahan (B. Harrison 76); A. Bontus, N. Blevins, D. MacPherson (J. Buchanan 46), G. Turner; S. Arnold (A. McQueen 65), G. McRorie; P. Houlihan (R. Ackerman 68), C. Reed (M. Harrison 58), J. Smith (R. Kotlewski 68); E. Olmstead, S. Massiah (I. Houston 46-55, 65); C. Panga, K. Gilmour (capt.), J. Kyne (J. Moloney 71).
Referee: H. Mason (RC)
Assistants: D. Smortchevsky (RC) & M. Jones (RC)