(photo: Bears defenders Doug Fraser, Cody Rockson and Taitusi Vikilani in pursuit of England Counties’ David Fairbrother. Photo credit Stewart Johnstone)
The Canadian Direct Insurance Bears were slow off the mark and fell behind quickly to England Counties
A stabilizing scrum helped the Bears to a better showing in the second half, but in the end the home team found themselves shutout on the scoreboard through 80 minutes, falling by a score of 41-0.
England Counties put the Bears backfield under pressure early, with Counties centre Chris May charging down an attempted clearance kick to score his first of two tries on the day.
The pace of the Counties runners caused continued headaches for the Bears, who were lucky to not concede more points in the early stages, as knock-ons spoiled some flashy lines cut by the Counties backs.
The Bears found themselves trailing 27-0 at the half, as Counties were able to exploit gaps in the Bears defence by recycling the ball quickly and spreading the attack to the wings. Bears possessions in reply were marked with too many turnovers in the contact and not enough in the way of variation with ball in hand. When the Bears did move forward, the English counter ruck was often able to cause disruption, making clean ball all but impossible for the Bears, whose wingers were unable get the touches they needed to open up the defence.
The second half looked better for the Bears, with Andrew Lackner coming on at hooker and Cody Rockson being inserted as scrum-half to add some energy to the Bears attack. The last twenty minutes saw the home side win individual battles with more consistency, and despite not scoring points, the Bears had moments that will make fans hopeful for the domestic season to come.
“This was a great testing match to help us get ready for the Canadian Rugby Championship,” said Bears prop, Ryan Ackerman. “The physicality definitely stepped up in the second half for us and we started winning more ball.”
Eighteen year-old eight-man, Taitusi Vikilani, playing in his debut for the BC senior men’s team, struggled at times in the first half, but grew in confidence as the second half went on, showing a tantalizing glimpse of what the future might look like for the promising prospect. Vikilani was a late addition into the starting lineup as replacement for Glenn McKinnon, who missed the game with an upper body injury.
Despite controlling much of the game against BC, England Counties fullback Matt Shepherd saw that there remains plenty of room for his side to raise level of play for the remainder of the tour.
“I think we have a lot to work on and need to keep going, keep building,” said Sheperd. “There were things that we didn’t execute that we needed to, and I think in the next game we have a lot to work on.”
England Counties continue their tour of Canada, facing the Prairie Wolf Pack on June 7th and the Ontario Blues June 11th.
The Bears open their Canadian Rugby Championship campaign in Calgary against the Prairie Wolf Pack on July 2nd, with a return engagement against the Prairies set for July 9th in Victoria, BC.
The Bears then conclude the 2016 CRC campaign with away fixtures against the Atlantic Rock in St. John’s, NL, on July 21, followed by the Ontario Blues in Toronto on July 24.
Scoring Summary – England Counties:
Tries: May (2), Fielding, Winter, Williams
Penalties: Gabbitass (2)
Conversions: Shepherd (3), Gabittass (2)
Scoring Summary – BC Bears:
Referee – Dave Smortchevsky
AR1 – Harry Mason
AR2 – Chris Assmus
Sub Controller – Toby Mustill
Scorekeeper – Saro Turner
Canadian Direct Insurance BC Bears
1. Anthony Luca – c (Burnaby Lake RC)
2. Micha Govorchin (Burnaby Lake RC)
3. Ryan Ackerman (Burnaby Lake RC)
4. Sam Clark (UBC Thunderbirds)
5. Liam Chisholm (UVic Vikes)
6. Brendan Kelliher (Castaway Wanderers)
7. Alex Boyd (Capilano RFC)
8. Taitusi Vikilani (Burnaby Lake RC)
9. Chris Robinson (Capilano RFC)
10. James Reekie (Burnaby Lake RC)
11. Cully Quirke (UBC Thunderbirds)
12. Doug Fraser (UVic Vikes)
13. Joe Dolesau (Burnaby Lake RC)
14. Crosby Stewart (UVic Vikes)
15. Gareth Marsden (Burnaby Lake RC)
16. Andrew Lackner (Burnaby Lake RC)
17. Ryan March (Abbotsford RFC)
19. Ollie Nott (Uvic Vikes)
20. Lee Helm (Abbotsford RFC)
21. Cody Rockson (Burnaby Lake RC)
22. Geoff Ryan (Burnaby Lake RC)
23. Chris Chalmers (Abbotsford RFC)
Coach: Gabriel Fulcher
Scrum Coach: Angel Cividanes
Attack Coach: Tony LaCarte
General Manager: Mike James
1. Trevor Davison (Durham and Blaydon)
2. Matt Cornish (Surrey and London Irish Wild Geese)
3. Elliot Millar Mills (Cheshire and Macclesfield)
4. Dan Williams (Devon and Torquay)
5. Rob Conquest (Hertfordshire and Darlington Mowden Park)
6. Keith Laughlin (Northumberland and Blaydon) – Captain
7. Nyle Davidson (Caldy and Cheshire)
8. Ryan Parkinson (Cheshire and Macclesfield)
9. Tom Banks (Hertfordshire and Bishop’s Stortford)
10. Freddie Gabbitass (Kent and Blackheath)
11. Leo Fielding (Gloucestershire and Blackheath)
12. Chris May (Hertfordshire and Old Albanians)
13. Sam Winter (Hertfordshire and Bishops’s Stortford)
14. Nigel Baker (Gloucestershire and Cinderford)
15. Matt Shepherd (Plymouth Albion and Cornwall)
16. Daniel Seal (East Midlands and Cambridge)
17. Matt Miles (Hertfordshire and Old Albanians)
18. Tom Cowan-Dickie (Cornwall and Redruth)
19. Ian Kench (Surrey and Esher)
20. David Fairbrother (Lancashire and Fylde)
21. Jack Walsh (Kent and Blackheath)
22. James Stokes (Eastern Counties and Coventry)
23. Joseph Tarrant (Eastern Counties and Ampthill)
Team Manager: Matt Long
Assistant Team Manager: Simon Legg
Lead Coach: James Shanahan
Forwards Coach: Chris Wilkins