By Wilson Wong, UBC Sports Information
VANCOUVER – A second-half comeback by the University of Victoria Vikes men’s rugby team fell short as they dropped a 37-30 decision to the UBC Thunderbirds in Vancouver Saturday in the battle for the Wightman Boot.
Today’s result determined the 2016 winner of the annual series, which has traditionally been a home-and-home series. It is the third straight Boot victory for UBC.
Saturday’s game also served as the 2016 Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League season opener for both squads.
UBC and Victoria were undefeated coming into today’s match, having claimed the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island titles in Premier League qualifying in the fall.
The Thunderbirds staked a 24-8 halftime lead and Brock Staller made it 27-8 early in the second half with a penalty kick.
The Vikes fought back with three successive tries in the second half to close to 27-25. The first came from Macbryan Bos, which was converted. Then Casey Reed touched the ball down in the in-goal area to cut UBC’s lead to 27-20.
Shortly after that, Kapi Vataiki received a pass in his own half and streaked down the left sideline to score.
James Thompson of UBC earned a try to put the home side up 34-25. Staller added another penalty to increase the gap to 12 points with about 15 minutes to play.
With less than five minutes to go, Nathan Stewart took a tap-and-go inside the UBC 22, and cut to his left and carried a Thunderbirds defender over the line, touching down to make the score 37-30.
However, time ran out on the Vikes, who suffered their first loss this season.
UBC opened the scoring with a penalty try, which was converted by Staller. Victoria responded with a try of its own, but the ensuing kick was unsuccessful.
Fergus Hall gave the Vikes an 8-7 lead after kicking a penalty goal from about midfield.
Connor Hamilton took the lead back for the T-Birds with a converted try. Theo Sauder took a pass from Jorden Sandover-Best in front of the Victoria goalpost and found the in-goal area. A convert made it 21-8 for UBC. Staller added a penalty to give the T-Birds their 24-8 advantage going into halftime.
The final score was 37-30 for UBC, while the next game for the Vikes will be on Jan. 30 against Seattle at Wallace Field.