April 12, 2014, VANCOUVER, BC (ISN) – The final round of qualifying for the 2013-14 Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League playoffs came down to the wire on Saturday afternoon with crucial points at stake in two matches played in Vancouver.
In the end, no.4 Capilano RFC clinched a bonus point by losing within seven to secure a semifinal berth.
Jericho Park was the scene of a gruelling battle between the no.5 UBC Old Boy Ravens fighting for a playoff berth against the no.3 Castaway Wanderers, who had already qualified but needed to lock up the third seed. A seven-try thriller was decided in the final minutes when the Ravens were awarded a penalty but opted for field positioning instead of the easy three points. The Ravens won the ensuing line out but failed to score, dropping a 20-19 nail biter to their Island rivals. The loss saw the Ravens finish five points shy of the top four, eliminating them from playoff contention.
No.4 Capilano booked a spot in the semifinals against no.1 Burnaby Lake on April 26th and no.3 Castaway Wanderers will now prepare for their semifinal tilt against reigning Rounsfell Cup champions no.2 James Bay Athletic Association.
Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League – Sat. April 12th:
Castaway Wanderers 20(+1) – 19(+1) UBCOB Ravens
Burnaby Lake Rugby Club 25 – 19(+1) Capilano RFC
James Bay AA 72(+1) – 8 Meraloma
Vancouver Rowing Club 26(+1) – 51(+1) UVic Vikes
PLAYOFFS: Semifinals scheduled for April 26 / Cup Final May 10
Castaway Wanderers 20, UBCOB Ravens 19
The Castaway Wanderers led 20-7 at the half but were held scoreless as a relentless Ravens side poured everything they had into a two-try second half performance.
The opening 40 minutes at Jericho Park saw CW with the wind at their backs and some flawless kicking from Canada 15s Player of the Year Ciaran Hearn kept the Ravens pinned inside their own half under pressure. Speedy winger Keenan Horton opened the scoring for CW, crashing over in the far corner.
Canada sevens standout and Ravens winger Conor Trainor made his presence felt and forced a rare turnover in the half, intercepting from nearly 50 metres out and sprinting in under the posts for a try. Standoff Tom Luke kicked the convert for a 7-5 Ravens lead.
CW regained the momentum and recorded three tries before the half to lead 20-17 with tries from forwards Gord Kehoe, Andrew Tiedemann and winger Jonny Morris.
“That was really a game of two halves where the wind played a big factor,” said Ravens standoff Tom Luke. “When they had the wind they had the momentum and controlled set pieces. When we had it in the second half, we were able to turn around and put pressure on them.”
The second frame saw the Ravens with the advantage and when CW hooker Ray Barkwill was sin-binned, the hosts suddenly had an extra man as well. With the playoffs on the line, the Ravens mounted an impressive comeback marching their way into CW’s 22 before putting Garner Lea over for a score. With Barkwill still in the bin, Ravens kept up the pressure and it was Jim Yeganegi who went in for their third try. Luke tacked on the conversion and saw the Ravens trailing 19-20.
The Ravens kept up the momentum when the sin-bin was over and with less than two minutes to play were rewarded with a penalty direclty in front of the sticks. Knowing they had to get the bonus and not just a win to go through, Luke kicked for touch and secured better field positioning for their hefty pack. After several phases the Ravens came within inches but the play was blown up and CW were able to turn over the ball and put it into touch for the win.
“[Ravens] played like the better team today but we pulled it off,” said CW winger and try scorer Jonny Morris. “We had our big guys out there who kept us level headed and it was important that we were able to gut this one out. Next week it’s do or die and we know we can’t play like that in the playoffs.”
For the Ravens, the loss brings the season to a close as they wrap up at 6-8, five points shy of the playoffs.
“Our season was really a mixed bag where the first half was great but the two and a half month break really halted our momentum,” added Luke. “A tough three games against Burnaby and James Bay to start the second half hurt us but it was a great end to the season so hopefully we can build on that heading into next year.”
Across town at Klahanie Park, Capilano RFC clinched a playoff berth with a 25-19 bonus point loss to Burnaby Lake. The two sides will meet again in two weeks time in the semifinals with Capilano traveling to Burnaby Lake Sports Complex.
Connaught Park played host to the final game of the 2013-14 season for no.8 Meraloma as a 72-8 defeat dropped them to 0-14 on the season. The only match on Vancouver Island saw the no.6 UVic Vikes defeat no.7 Vancouver Rowing Club 51-26.
Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League – Sat. April 26th:
SEMIFINALS: no.4 Capilano RFC at no.1 Burnaby Lake (Burnaby Lake Sports Complex)
SEMIFINALS: no.3 Castaway Wanderers at no.2 James Bay (MacDonald Park)