James Bay, BC   November 7, 2015 (ISN) – The UVic Vikes men’s rugby Elite Division stole a homecoming win from the James Bay Bays Saturday afternoon at the newly refurbished MacDonald Park, avoiding their first loss of the season narrowly defeating the home side 29-26 on three second half trys by Crosby Stewart including the game-winning try with time expired.

James Bay’s Vince Herlaar experiences a new definition of a “knock on” as a Vikes tackler uses his head to make an impression – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

James Bay, sitting third in the Island Elite division of the BC Rugby Union and trying to climb the ladder back in to Barnard Cup contention, were glad to get back to their home turf after a much needed pitch reseeding kept them away from any home play, and perhaps used that return to rejuvenate their play against the league’s top team in the undefeated Uvic Vikes.


Canadian team player and Bays winger Jordan Ross-Wilson, always electric, tries to run out tof the grip of Casey Reed of UVic – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

The Bays, suffering so far this season the growing pains of a youthful, less experienced team made the most of their return, pushing the tenured Vikes to the limit and a near, first loss of the season with their spirited, gutsy performance.

The Bays would show great patience on the ball against the high-scoring UVic side, despite loss. “We took some major steps forward today,” said Bays Coach Peter Rushton. “ It was a tight game, we worked hard, and did a lot of good stuff up front. It certainly wasn’t a day where you could throw the ball around much. UVic has so many weapons, and if you fail to execute, and you turn the ball over you will pay just about every time. That’s the difference in the game.”


Grady Bowd of UVic tuns through the arms of two Bays defenders trying to find extra field space behind the try line – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

The Vikes, opening the scoring on a try by Kevin Leask, would get a three-penalty kick response from James Bay’s Camille Blanc, taking a 9-7 lead midway through the first half. After the Vikes would score their second try of the game to go up 12-9, James Bay would answer on a try by Aaron Evison, pushing his team to a half-time lead 16-12.


James Bay’s Aaron Evison would push his team ahead at the half 16-12 with his team’s first try – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

The Bays continued to be successful, keeping the fleet footed Vikes in their own end most of the second half, soft turf slowing down both sides running game. The Vikes would take a short-lived lead early in the second with a try on the legs of speedster Crosby Stewart to go up 17-16 in a back and forth affair. After a successful penalty kick by Camille Blanc, the Bays powerful front line would back up the Vikes scrum into the Vikes own end to concede a Blake Vanheyningen try and take a commanding 26-17 lead.


Jim de Goede takes the ball mid-field breaking two tackles to extend the Bays field position – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

Aside from a much better Vikes defensive effort in the second half, Crosby Stewart would bring his team within two points, 26-24, with his second try of the half with approximately four minutes remaining in the game.

In a series of bounces that went UVic’s way, the Vikes would get one last chance at the Bays try line from midfield. With noted better patience on the ball, the Vikes would play through six to seven phases to finally find Stewart one last time, distributing the ball with precision to the winger. Stewart, as he has scored so many times before, would run the wing, with a tackler in tow the last five metres, to score the winning try as time expired to propel his team to the comeback win and preserve the Vikes unblemished record so far this season.


Crosby Stewart would save the day for his UVic Vikes, scoring the winning try with no time remaining as Bays Aaron Evison would fail to bring Stewart down in time to prevent the win – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

Vikes coach Doug Tate would comment post game about his teams play.  “Credit to James Bay. I think the played real smart today. They kept the ball in our end, and they disrupted our line out.  We had troubles with the wet ball, the heavy ground, and didn’t adjust very well (to James Bay’s play). It wasn’t an easy field to tactically kick on or run on. Credit to our guys. They were patient in the end.”