Week 11 Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League recap

VANCOUVER – In a blockbuster matchup that featured running rugby, six tries and plenty of national team players, the Lower Mainland’s top-ranked rugby club Capilano RFC dealt the reigning Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League champions Castaway Wanderers RFC a 23-17 loss on Saturday.

With three weeks to go in the regular season, and a rematch still to come between the two sides, the Castaway Wanderers are now just one point ahead in the standings and holding down home field advantage for the playoffs.

Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League – Sat. March 31st:

Castaway Wanderers 17(+1) – 23(+1) Capilano RFC

UBCOB Ravens 15 – 3 Abbotsford RFC

Meraloma Rugby Club 30(+1) – 21 UVic Vikes

Burnaby Lake Rugby Club 13 – 28(+1) James Bay AA

Castaway Wanderers 17(+1) – 23(+1) Capilano RFC

“That was an outstanding game. Our players stepped up and that was probably our most comprehensive performance of the season,” said Capilano head coach Tom Larisch. “[CW] were very well drilled and organized. They were strong in the scrums and put us under pressure. But our players responded courageously tackling hard and low throughout the game.”

The Castaway Wanderers (7-3-1) opened the scoring when hooker Mike Pletch crashed over for a try and Canadian sevens national team standout Ciaran Hearn kicked the conversion for an early 7-0 lead.

Capilano (8-3) responded with 13 straight points as Robbie McCall punched in a try. Shortly after, the league’s leading scorer Matt Yanagiya finished off a strong run by Brady Carpenter, taking the off-load to put Capilano up 10-7. Yanagiya – who struggled from the tee with no conversions – stepped up shortly after to slot a penalty for the 13-7 lead.

CW full back Hearn responded with a penalty of his own, leaving the visitors trailing 13-10 at the break.

A heavy down pour continued into the second half and it was Capilano who seemed better prepared for the wet conditions. The Caps’ back line, boasting both Canadian international Harry Jones and his brother Charlie, consistently swung the ball wide and attacked from all angles of the park.

The first score of the second half came when the Caps managed to turn the ball over at the breakdown before shifting it out wide to Brady Carpenter who was waiting on the far touch line. Carpenter turned on the jets and shrugged off several tacklers before diving over to score in the far corner.

CW played to their strengths, using their forwards to grind their way towards the try line. After a series of pick and drives, prop Andrew Tiedemann eventually broke the defensive line for a try. Hearn kicked the conversion to make it 17-18.

That was as close as CW came to reversing the score line, however, as Charlie Jones put the match out of reach going over for Capilano’s fourth and final try. The fourth tally also secured the bonus point as Capilano continues to perform down the stretch.

“Our guys are really hitting their stride and we are peaking at the right time of year,” added Larisch. “We are after home field advantage for the playoffs and that’s something that really means a lot to our players and our fans here.”

For CW, the loss was just their third of the season and their first against a team other than table leaders James Bay.

“Our intensity was there but we just couldn’t execute today,” added CW’s try scorer Tiedemann. “Defensively we were a bit off. They pounded it up and then had the speed out wide. It makes a big difference when you have players like the Jones brothers out there.”

The rematch between these two sides promises to be another entertaining spectacle as the two sides scrum down on April 21st at Windsor Park in Oak Bay.

“We play better at home where we will definitely have the advantage,” added Tiedemann. “We have a few things that just need to be tweaked but we’ll be ready.”

Around the league…

Table leaders James Bay Athletic Association (10-1) held down top spot in the standings when they defeated Burnaby Lake Rugby Club (6-4) by a score of 28-13. Canadian sevens international John Moonlight crossed over for two tries with single tallies also recorded by Nolan Miles, JT Rowbotham and Luke Tait. Connor Braid kicked the penalty to round out James Bay’s scoring.

The UBCOB Ravens (4-7) downed Abbotsford RFC (1-9) by a score of 15-3. The win sees the Ravens 13 points ahead of last-place Abbotsford in the standings as they look to secure their spot in next year’s eight team Premier League.

Over at Wallace Field, the University of Victoria Vikes (1-10) fell 30-21 to Meraloma Rugby Club (5-5-1). Meraloma are now just one point shy of fourth place in the standings, and need to continue their winning ways if they look to secure a semifinal berth in the postseason.

Next Saturday will be a bye weekend in the Premier League schedule, with only Burnaby and Abbotsford making up a fixture previously missed in February. Burnaby will be on the road to Abbotsford on April 7th, with the game currently scheduled for 2:45pm at CFV Exhibition Park.

RESULTS: Ceili’s Cup League (Tier 1 First Division) – Sat. March 31st:

UBCOB Ravens 10 – 32(+1) Abbotsford RFC

Castaway Wanderers 25(+1) – 26 Capilano RFC

Meraloma Rugby Club 7 – 3(+1) UVic Norsemen

Burnaby Lake Rugby Club 7(+1) – 13 James Bay AA