By Jamie Umbach, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s rugby team was held at home by the Castaway Wanderers 35-12 at Wallace Field in CDI Premier League action on Feb. 27. The win gives the Castaways their first win of the season at 1-3 while the Vikes fall to 1-3 with the loss.
Third-year wing Crosby Stewart and fourth-year lock Kevin Leask were the only Vikes to put up major scores for the home side. First year Jack Nyren made good on one conversion from a difficult angle in his second game with the Vikes first team this season, continuing his trend of strong kicking for the Vikes with the absence of regular fullback Fergus Hall.
“We conceded 21 penalties and never really got going defensively all game,” commented Vikes head coach Doug Tate, whose team has now lost two-straight games. “Castaways capitalized on our mistakes and deserve credit. They outplayed us today.”
The first scoring opportunity came through the Castaways after winning a line out deep in Vikes territory then pushing the resulting maul to within five yards of the Vikes try zone. The Vikes defensive line held the Wanderers back admirably for multiple forward sets before the Castaways were called for blowing out a ruck, relieving pressure for the Vikes.
The Castaways then followed up with a 25-yard kick that narrowly missed going through the uprights by a small distance. Despite the miss, the Castaways would add two successive penalties through Regan Crosland to take the early advantage 6-0.
Both teams fell into card trouble from penalties in the ruck, but the Vikes were reduced to 13 men when third years Joe Erlic and Ollie Nott were both in the sin bin late in the second half. The Castaways would take advantage of the Vikes’ misfortune with Nate Oliver running in the only try of the first half. The Castaways would carry a 13-0 advantage into the halftime break.
The Castaways started out of the break where they left off by extending their lead early in the second half to 18-0. Things worsened for the Vikes ten minutes later when another penalty kick for the Castaways sailed through the upright to make their lead 21-0.
The Vikes went up a man after a high tackle reduced the Castaways to 14 men. Much like their opponents did earlier, the Vikes took quick advantage of the situation to get on the board through Stewart. Nyren did well to add a tough conversion to reduce the deficit to 14 at 21-7 with 20 minutes remaining. But just as the Vikes found a lifeline, Castaways quickly answered back with another try to restore their lead to 21 at 28-7.
A Vikes try from Leask would not be enough to spark a comeback from the Vikes as the Castaways added another try of their own to take the victory 35-12.
With key players such as Hall out for the Vikes due to injury, the Vikes are going to have to find support from each member of their team in order to dig themselves out of this early season hole.
“We’re pretty banged up with a lot of guys missing,” said Tate. It makes a difference, but at the end of the day you have to play on both sides of the field and we didn’t do that today. Now we’re down and we need to get back to winning ways. Every weekend from here on in is going to be a grind.”
The Vikes will look to respond next weekend on Saturday, Mar. 5 on the road in Vancouver at Jericho Park when they face the UBCOB Ravens.