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by Andrew Smith, BC Rugby Communications, Photos by Erich Eichhorn (ISN)

August 30, 2013, LANGFORD, BC – Just a single penalty in the second half was indicative of how tight Friday night’s Canadian Rugby Championship clash was between the BC Bears (0-2) and two-time defending MacTier Cup champions Ontario Blues (2-0). The Blues would end up squeaking out a 11-7 win as Canadian international Liam Underwood (Balmy Beach) provided two crucial penalties to post the important road victory.

“When you come to BC you have to get the win, it’s a tough place to play,” said Ontario head coach Chris Silverthorn. “Defensively both sides were really strong and BC really disrupted our play. We had no go forward ball and it was very physical rugby.”

The Ontario Blues would scrap out a narrow victory against the BC Bears during Canadian Rugby Championship action with a 11-7 win. Hooker Ray Barkwill powers through a BC Bear tackle  – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

It was Ontario who were first on the score board when Canada Under-20 grad Lucas Hammond (Toronto Nomads) barrelled over in the corner to go up 5-0 just two minutes into the game. Underwood’s conversion went wide, however, and it was BC who were on the front foot for the following minutes.

Bears Matt Buckley, giving blood early in the game has is hands full with his tackle against Blues full back Liam Underwood  – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

BC’s inside centre pairing produced the next try as Joe Dolesau (Burnaby Lake) shook off several tacklers before offloading to Matt Buckley (Castaway Wanderers) who crashed through for the try in the 12th minute. Victoria local Connor Braid (James Bay) slotted the conversion and gave the hosts a 7-5 lead.

A BC Bear strips an Ontario Blue player in what turned out to be a defensive test with the Ontario Blues coming out on top 11-7 – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

Underwood would convert a 21st minute penalty and the score would sit at 8-7 in favour of Ontario at the half.

The second frame provided ample scoring opportunities for both sides but it was BC who felt they left the most points on the field, knocking it on and losing possession twice inside the five metre line.

“It was a massive improvement and a great effort by our guys,” said BC Bears head coach Jim Dixon. “But we just have to take the chances when they’re there and need to be ruthless when we’re in scoring position.”

BC Bears Aaron Flagg and company try to slow down Blues Derek  Daypuck – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

The second half featured just a single penalty as Underwood would put Ontario up 11-7 in the 59th minute.

The remaining quarter was back and forth rugby with both sides failing to convert pressure into points. A series of attacking phases by BC resulted in knock ons before Ontario scrum half Jamie Mackenzie (Oakville Crusaders) finally kicked the ball into touch for the win.

Henry Recinos of the BC Bears looks to run away from the Blues stingy defense during Canadian Championship action Friday night  – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

The Bears will now regroup for their Monday afternoon 4:45 clash against the Rock at Westhills Stadium.

“We just need to crease out a few mistakes and build our phases,” said BC try-scorer Matt Buckley. “It’s almost there and we need to just not panic when we have those opportunities.”

Ontario heads to Alberta for a clash against the Prairie Wolf Pack. The two sides will square off at Calgary Rugby Park at 1:00pm on Monday afternoon.