September 22, 2012, VANCOUVER – James Bay Athletic Association may have been playing in their first game of the 2012-13 Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League season, but last year’s finalists were firing on all cylinders as they kicked off their quest for a record 23rd Rounsefell Cup with a four-try performance in a 28-24 win over Meraloma Rugby Club.
It didn’t take long for the Bays to get on the board as Canadian international fly half Connor Braid hit a drop goal for an early 3-0 lead. Meraloma kicker Eric Wilson responded with a penalty and the match was level 3-3 in the opening 10 minutes.
James Bay retained much of the possession from then on and after swinging the ball wide, it was Braid who dove over for the opening try to make it 8-3. Meraloma added another pair of first half penalties through Wilson’s boot and led momentarily 9-8. The home side’s only lead of the game was short lived, however, as Canadian sevens standout Jeff Hassler sprinted over 50 metres, zig-zagging to the far touch line before coming back inside to dot down beneath the uprights. Braid provided the extras and it was 15-9. The Bays would punch in another try with Jim de Goede going over for the 20-9 half time lead.
“We lost the game in the first half,” said Meraloma coach Angel Cividanes. “We missed too many tackles and had too many errors. We came back with a better attitude in the second half but the hill was too big to climb.”
Immediately after the break Wilson would add another penalty to make it 12-20. But once again the Meraloma defence lapsed after scoring and allowed the opposition another opportunity. A series of strong phases resulted in the ball going wide to James Bay winger Nate Waldman who crashed over to make it 25-17, securing the bonus point with the team’s fourth try.
After struggling for 60 minutes to find their rhythm, the Meralomas hit their stride and began to claw their way back into the match with some bruising tackles and strong forward drives. Veteran prop Mile Racic smashed his way through for a try to make it 17-25. Shortly after, however, the Lomas defence conceded a penalty and Braid made them pay, finishing the day with a game-high 13 points.
In the last 10 minutes the Meraloma pack was again on the move and a try from prop Jason Galbraith and conversion by Wilson had the score at 24-28. In the final play of the game, Meraloma winger Mike Hall dashed down the sideline and appeared to go over for a try sending the Connaught Park faithful into a frenzy. The winger was called for stepping out however, and the final whistle went with the win going to the visitors.
“That was uncharacteristic of ‘Lomas rugby and I don’t think they really had any sustained pressure against us until those final minutes,” said James Bay head coach Peter Rushton. “Connor [Braid] was outstanding today at no. 10 and I think our front row won the game for us. Noah Barker, Cole Racine and Francis Yoon came out big time for us and with Spencer’s [Dalziel] ball distribution at no. 9 they really got it done.”
Around the league
Elsewhere in Premier League competition, the UVic Vikes upset defending Rounsefell Cup champions Capilano RFC 30-24. Joe Dolesau recorded a brace of tries to lead Burnaby Lake Rugby Club to a 20-10 win over Oak Bay’s Castaway Wanderers. At South Surrey Athletic Park, the newly promoted Bayside Sharks recorded their first win since returning to the Premier League with a 24-17 victory over the UBCOB Ravens.
Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League – Sat. September 22nd:
Capilano RFC 24(+1) – 30(+1) UVic Vikes
Castaway Wanderers RFC 10 – 20 Burnaby Lake
James Bay AA 28(+1) – 24(+1) Meraloma Rugby Club
UBCOB Ravens 17(+1) – 24 Bayside AA
Ceili’s Cup League (Tier 1 First Division) – Sat. September 22nd:
Capilano RFC 19 – 46(+1) UVic Norsemen
Castaway Wanderers RFC 0 – 36(+1) Burnaby Lake
James Bay AA 0 – 53(+1) Meraloma Rugby Club
UBCOB Ravens 7 – 48(+1) Bayside AA