By Jamie Umbach, Vikes Communications
The University of Victoria Vikes men’s rugby team held on for a resilient 29-23 victory over the Castaway Wanderers after holding off a nervy last-minute push from the Wanderers deep in their own territory. The win lifts the Vikes to 3-0 on the season and top of the Barnard Cup standings while the Wanderers drop to 2-1.
Vikes third-year scrumhalf James Pitblado scored his fourth try of the season while winger Kapi Vaitaki and flanker Luke Campbell both had a pair of tries in the Vikes victory. Inside centre Guiseppe Du Toit and fullback Fergus Hall made good on a conversion each.
Castaway outside half Regan Crossland was strong on kicks for the Wanderers, nailing two conversions and two penalties for ten of the Wanderers’ 23 points on the day. Outside centre Mike Fuailefau and Steven Groil each added tries in the loss for the Wanderers.
The Wanderers opened the scoring early to give themselves the 7-0 lead by driving through the Vikes defensive line after an early break gave the Wanderers a lot of space to work with. Minutes later, the Castaways increased their lead on a penalty kick converted by Crossland.
The Vikes fought back five minutes later after the Castaways poorly cleared a long deep kick from the Vikes. The ensuing clearance was blocked by the chasing Vikes defence, who then collected the loose ball and ran in untouched to cut the Castaways’ lead to 10-5.
After a Wanderers’ penalty kick made it 13-5, winger Kapi Vaitaki erased the Wanderers lead with two quick tries in succession. After reducing the lead to 13-12 after a good drive wide, Vaitiki followed it up with another drive while facing opposition from three Wanderers defenders. After another Wanderers penalty kick, the Vikes lead 17-16 going into the half-time break.
The Vikes held a late 29-23 lead in the second half as the Wanderers pushed deep into Vikes territory. The Wanderers crashed forward in search of the winning try and conversion with only two minutes to go in the game, but an offside within a few yards of the end zone nullified the late chance of scoring for the Wanderers.
The Vikes scrummed down after the call, but immediately gave the ball away to increase the pressure on the Vikes. The Vikes would weather another hard minute of pressure near their end zone before the ball was booted away by the Vikes and the referee blew his whistle to signal full-time.
“We started off poorly,” said Vikes men’s rugby head coach Doug Tate. “They exposed us up the field in the middle quite well. We settled down and once we got some possession, they began to tire out in the second half. We had a lot of chances to go ahead higher in today’s match, but we made some poor decisions. We ended up defending late in the game, but overall defense was good.”
The Vikes match up with James Bay Athletic Association next for the second time this season on Oct. 16 at 7:00 p.m., but this time at Centennial Stadium. The Wanderers head to Windsor Park to face Westshore RFC on Oct. 17.
CW: 16–7: 23
UVIC: 17–12: 29
CW: S. Groil (1T), M. Fuailefau (1T), R. Crosland (2P, 2C)
UVIC: J. Pitblado (1T), K. Vaitaki (2T), L. Campbell (2T), F. Hall (1C), G. Du Toit (1C)