November 26, 2016 Victoria, BC ( ISN ) – The Vancouver Island Rugby Union’s Elite Division James Bay Bays survived a late surge by their crosstown rival Castaway Wanderers to secure a 12-10 victory and home pitch advantage next weekend when they will do battle again at MacDonald Park, but this time for the championship Barnard Cup.
James Bay, trailing by one point behind CW in the standings coming into the game, were looking to bounce back from a 42-7 shellacking at the hands of the UVic Vikes last Friday in a rare night game at Centennial Stadium. Despite fairing slightly better than CW with a 6-1-1 record, both would rely on Saturday’s match to decide who would host the Cup final.
A low scoring game, credited much to a mud-sodden pitch and slick ball, would level any advantage either team thought they may hold over the other as rain would give way to poor field conditions, short gains, and tiring scrums too many to count. Forwards on both sides of the ball would fall to punishing tackles, as ball play would slow to a grind on a progressively deteriorating field.
James Bay would find their way to the try line first, going up 5-0 in the only score of the first half. #12 Nate Tough would score in the corner after teammate Noah Barker would make a break over the top of CW defender winger Nick Hutton to place the ball near the line.
The Castaway Wanderers would show a slight upper hand in the second half, able to play in James Bay’s end with some success. Taking what field position earned, CW would kick a successful penalty kick to pull close 5-3. Two squandered additional CW penalty kicks, would later come back to haunt the visiting side. After a couple of kicking errors in an attempt to clear the ball from their own end, the Castaway Wanderer’s would find themselves defending unsuccessfully against James Bay’s forwards as they would back up CW to push the ball across the line with Blake Van Heyningen falling on the ball to open up a 12-3 lead with five minutes left to play in the game.
With daylight failing, and both side’s mud-painted jersey’s all looking too much the same to tell any difference between players other than the direction of travel and cheers from the crowd, CW would take one last stab at the James Bay try line with time running down. With two minutes remaining, the Castaway Wanderers would score a try and a successful conversion to pull to within two points 12-10.
James Bay, keen to keep the ball away from any CW kicking distance would play the game out were it began, center pitch to the final whistle for the victory.
In earlier Division One action, despite James Bay carrying the play early in the game with strong phase transition, CW would turn in a dominating second half to take a 24-12 victory.