Ontario Blues recovered from the blow of conceding an early try to register six of their own and destroy The Rock 41-7. Last season’s Canadian Rugby Championship winners were playing their first home game of the season at Swilers Rugby Complex but the result will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. The astounding scoreline is the heaviest defeat for The Rock at home in more than two and a half decades.
The Blues have been in fine form ever since they were narrowly beaten by Prairie Wolf Pack in the season opener. Just over two weeks ago they put British Columbia to the sword in a seven-try rout and their blistering attacking play shows no signs of abating. The result saw the Blues briefly take top spot in the CRC, before the BC versus Wolf Pack game, but the dramatic scorelines have shot them into the favourites position with two games to play.
The favourites tag was the last time on the Blues’ minds as they shipped a try in the opening salvo. Cheered on by a fervent crowd at the newly refurbished Swilers, The Rock gained the ball from the restart and used the crash-ball tactic that has served them so well for many years. Rock scrum-half Morgan Williams was snapping at the heels of his marauding forwards and the early pressure paid off when the home side crossed for the opening score. A conversion by captain Dean Blanks stretched the early lead to 7-0 but it would be the last time his side troubled the scorers.
Blues showed no signs of panic and tagged back three points through the boot of Steve Piatek. Their coach, Rob Doyle, and his staff have driven home the importance of building play through steady phases and testing out the wings when possible and the tactic was on show in the first half as 19-year-old centre Connor McCann used his speed and evasiveness to score a try that Piatek stepped up to convert. Blues flanker Seb Pearson has been a revelation throughout the opening clashes of the CRC and he proved to be a danger all day. His ball carrying skills inspired his teammates and he was damaging to The Rock in broken play. He added another try to his season’s tally and, with Piatek in goal-kicking form, the score was 17-7 at half-time. The best, however, was yet to come.
The Rock, and their home faithful, knew that they needed the next score of the match and, try as they might, they fell short a handful of times when in the Blues ’22. Lock Scott Dunham was immense in marshalling his teammates up front and was a source of clean ball in the line-out. He defended like a man possessed and it was no surprise that, despite the six-try display, that he was named as the Blues’ man of the match by manager Mark Winokur. The attacking threat from the home side was nullified by the 50th minute and the Blues began to turn the screw.
In the space of 25 minutes in the second-half, Ontario clocked up four tries through a mix of breakaways, defence-splitting passing and brute aggression. Ryan MacSween and Jordan Wilson-Ross scored well-taken tries and Connor McCann rattled through a weary covering line for his second five-pointer of the day. The teenager has been tipped for a spot in the Rugby World Cup squad of 2015 and such an inclusion will be a formality in the coming years if he can continue to build on his impressive start to life in the CRC. The scoring was rounded off when Luke Underwood came off the bench to grab a try of his own.
Mark Winokur said, “We played great defence and we had a very solid pack that didn’t give The Rock a platform to attack from. Scott (Dunham) was our man of the match but it really was a team effort and we scored some great tries. We will enjoy the result tonight and get back home to focus on next week.” The Rock have already bounced back from one defeat already this season but Saturday’s result is a bitter blow. They face B.C next on August 27th at Burlington RFC. Coach Pat Parfrey and his players will need every ounce of desire and grit if The Rock are to keep their season afloat.
Ontario - 41
Tries: Connor McCann (x2), Seb Pearson, Ryan MacSween, Jordan Wilson-Ross, Luke Underwood
Conversions: Steve Piatek (x4)
Penalties: Steve Piatek (x1)
The Rock – 7
Tries: Dean Blanks x1
Conversions: Dean Blanks (x1)
Blues 2 -1 12 pts
Wolf Pack 2-2 11 pts
BC 2-2 10 pts
Rock 1-2 4 pts
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