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BC Edges Ontario in ARC

Saturday Sep 12, 2009 in Elite Level Rugby NA4 - ARC

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Scoring 14 of his team’s 29 points, 21-year-old Nathan Hirayama led the Bears to a 29-24 victory over the visiting Ontario Blues at Brockton Oval in Vancouver.

The Americas Rugby Championship match was the first for both squads, but the predictable nerves settled after a short tennis match of kicks, and the 2000-strong crowd was treated to a quality rugby game.

The Bears stuck to a game plan of smartly kicking for territory, and though Ontario’s back three played deep for the full 80, the Blues could not make good on any of their counters.

Gritty Pat Riordan’s efforts around the breakdown earned the ugly yards and led to the first of BC’s four tries, when athletic wing Sean Duke finished off an elementary overlap. Hirayama found repeated success from left of the uprights when kicking for goal, and successfully converted Duke’s score.

An array of BC penalties initially thwarted the Bears’ momentum, but as head coach Mike James alluded to in the pregame, the basics done well won the match for the home side.
Stalwart Bears’ defense led the Blues to settle for a 40-meter penalty by standoff Steve Piatek, who used his boot to put his own dent on Saturday’s scoresheet with 9 points.

The midfield pairing of Sam Jenkins and Harry Jones worked well offensively for the Bears. Jones put up an up and under that was recovered well by wing Derek Townsend and eventually scored by lock Brian Erichsen.

Against the grain of play, the Blues recovered a loose ball off the side of a ruck and scored a try after an impressive set of offloads over an 80-meter span, bringing the tally to 14-10 just before the halftime whistle.

In perfect conditions, the lineouts were a bright spot for both squads. A slight and eventual edge would be given to the Bears in scrums, though the Blues’ coupling of the Pletch brothers in the front row proved a good challenge for the Bears.

All of BC’s tries were sparked by spectacular individual efforts. Hirayama was the catalyst of a 40 meter gain when he held his man with a glacier’s patience, offloading at the last minute to Jenkins. The very next play saw Sean White neatly use the space out wide, stepping two Blues players for an easy five points.

Hirayama settled his 14-point tab with a try, the result of a remarkable one-handed pickup by fullback White.

The Bears, having earned the bonus point, allowed both complacency and the Blues to creep back into the match and had 14 unanswered points scored against them as a result.

The narrow scoreline really was not indicative of the contest, but the Blues slowly wore down the Bears for two tries, the final points of the game dotted down by plucky Blues centre Steve Shortly, who only had to fall over the line when the ball unexpectedly bounced into his hands. 

Blues manager Mark Winokur was disappointed at the outcome of the match, but said it was a good starting point for the Blues’ ARC campaign.

“It was a constructive game, high quality, but BC took advantage of our mistakes. We’re pretty happy to walk away with the bonus point. The match today has left us with a few things to work on this week before our game against the Wolfpack in Toronto.”

The Bears have given themselves a solid platform to work from for the rest of the ARC competition, and can take solace in the knowledge that the only points given up were because of their own doing.

An uneven penalty count in the Blues’ favor will give the Bears some pause at training this week in preparation for next Saturday’s away match against The Rock,  but BC prop Rhodri Hanmer is encouraged with the implications of today’s win.

“Our structure needs to improve, and our defense and penalty count can tighten up, but we got the win and the bonus point so we’ve put ourselves in a good starting position to reach our goal of winning the ARC competition.”

The Bears travel to St. John’s, Newfoundland to face The Rock on Saturday, September 19. The Bears and the Rock are tied at the top of the ARC points table as the Rock won their first ARC match against The Wolfpack last week in Calgary.

BC 29
Tries: Sean Duke, Brian Erichsen,  Sean White, Nathan Hirayama
Cons: Nathan Hirayama (3)
Pens: Nathan Hirayama

Ontario 24
Tries: Scott Dunham, Colin Brown, Steve Shortly
Cons: Steve Piatek (3)
Pens: Steve Piatek

ARC Canada Standings

TEAM

W

L

T

BP

Pts

Atlantic

1

0

0

1

5

BC

1

0

0

1

5

Ontario

0

1

0

1

1

Prairies

0

1

0

0

0


- Meghan Mutrie

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