With Photos by Erich Eichhorn (www.allsportmedia.ca)
(ISN) – The Canadian Maple Leafs faced off against the Ontario Blues Saturday night at Bear Mountain Stadium, a part of the Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence, in Langford, BC. In front of an excited crowd, the Canadian Maple leafs came out on top by a score of 31-18.
The Ontario Blues came into Langford looking to get their season underway, which will see them travel to South America in May to take on different National and club teams on an exhibition tour. The team, coming off of a successful 2011 CRC season, which saw them capture the 2011 MacTier Cup as CRC champions, will train and play exhibition games until their season starts at home against the Rock on August 25th.
Canadian Maple Leaf Mike Fuailefau runs through an Ontario Blues tackle and away from the Maple Leafs goal line.– Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
The Canadian Maple Leafs are a squad made up of athletes who are training at the Centre of Excellence under Rugby Canada’s centralization. The group will continue to train at the Centre of Excellence and will assemble to play more exhibition games against teams like the Ontario Blues as the year continues.
In the Opening minutes of tonight’s match, the Ontario Blues came out strong, forcing the Canadian Maple Leafs deep into their own end.
An unidentified Maple Leaf player would take advantage of the rubber turf in the face of his opponent to get through the tackle – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
This pressure forced Canada to take three penalties inside their end at the start of the first. The Maple Leafs captain, Ander Monro, suffered a shoulder injury early in the game, sidelining the captain and causing the maple leafs to be a man down temporarily. Luckily, Monro returned in the second half.
Canada continued to take penalties and 10:44 into the match, Steve Piatec made a successful kick for Ontario, giving them a 3-0 lead.
The Maple Leafs had an easy time running through the Blues tacklers – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
A couple minutes later, Canada answered with a great run by Luc Pearson, scoring a try for the Maple Leafs. Canada continued its aggressive approach with an impressive individual effort by Connor Braid who passed the ball to Sean White, scoring Canada’s second try, followed by a successful conversion by Connor Braid.
Near the end of the first half, the Blues’ Seb Pearson made a try, bringing the score to 12-8 at halftime.
The second half started with both sides fighting hard for posession. John West of the Blues, made a great run fighting off three tackle attempts by run three minutes into the second half.
Hubert Buydens carries the ball and an Blues player forward – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
With 16:40 left in the game, Ontario’s Mike Scholz intercepted and ran the length of the field, scoring a try for Ontario. Piatec made the conversion.
With 9:41 left on the clock, Canada took another penalty and Piatec made a successful kick, bringing Ontario within one point of Canada.
With 5:10 remaining, Sean White made an exciting run, chipping the ball deep into Ontario’s end, which was received by his teammate, Nanyk Dala, scoring an exciting try. Connor Braid kicked another successful conversion, adding seven points to Canada’s lead.
Although leading, Canada continued to attack at every opportunity. With 2:35 left in the game, a turnover by Canada was recovered with a huge hit by Dala.
Sean White proved to be a slippery customer Saturday night against the visiting Blues, breaking more than just this one tackle on the night. – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Canada kept this pressure on in the last minutes of the game. With 2.5 seconds left in the game, Tyler Ardron scores the final try of the match, followed by Connor Braid’s third successful conversion, making the end score 31-18 for Canada’s Maple Leafs.
After the game, Maple Leafs Head Coach Mike Shelley stated: “I’m really pleased with the outcome tonight, these kind of matches are a chance to show what they’ve been doing in training. We’ve been working together for a long time but not AS a team so this group had to put a few plays together that we’ve been practicing in training, which were successful tonight.”
An Ontario Blues player narrowly kicks the ball away– Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
The Blues now have their sights set on May 5th, when they will play the Chile National team, ranked 23rd in the world, in Santiago, Chile, then travel to Argentina where they will play provincial club side Salta on May 9th. Finally, the team will see themselves in Montevideo, Uruguay to take on the Uruguay National team, ranked 21st on May 13th.
The Canadian Maple Leafs are set to be back in action on May 13th, when the CRC team from Newfoundland, the Rock, come to Bear Mountain Stadium as a part of their two game exhibition series, which will also see them take on the Canadian National Men’s U20 team.