December 3,2016 Victoria,BC (ISN) – The 105th rendition of Vancouver Island’s rugby Barnard Cup championship was decided at MacDonald Park in James Bay where the James Bay Bays defeated the cross town Castaway Wanderers 18-10 to claim their 58th Cup victory since the Barnard Cup’s inception in 1911.
James Bay would rely on the boot of Elliot Mitrou in the second half, kicking successfully 2-3 penalty kicks to put distance between the two teams with what was a stalemated contest at 12-10 well into the in the second half with field conditions barely passable for any type of running attack. James bay would benefit with trys by Ben Johnson and Sean White. Keaton Styles would score the lone try for the Castaway Wanderers in the loss.
The Castaway Wanderers were narrowly defeated last weekend at the hand of the Bays on same pitch, relinquishing home field advantage in the loss. For CW, it was their 2nd straight appearance since 2007, while the home side Bays returned to the final after a one-year hiatus. Previous to last year’s absence, James Bay had appeared in seven consecutive finals dating back to 2007. In that span to date, James Bay has risen to take the Barnard Cup a total of seven times.
Both sides would relish in the return of their nationals to bolster the club in their bid to the Cup. James Bay would see the return of Phil Mack to the line up in support of Jordan Willson-Ross and Sean White who reportedly had recently left the national program to concentrate on academic endeavors. The Castaway Wanderers would insert international notables such as Ray Barkwill, Nanyak Dala, and Doug Woolridge, who would take the Cap for his CW team.
With rumors of the final being held on a neutral pitch due to the damage left on the field during last weekend’s rain-soaked, semi-final deluge finally dispelled, teams took to the field at MacDonald Park despite the threat of torrential rain squalls.
Castaway Wanderers would pickup where they left off in the last half of the semi final contest, pressing James Bay back with a quickened pace, advancing the ball before James Bay would have time to set up any sort of defensive wall. Near flawless in their scrums and phases, CW would back up James Bay, ultimately freeing up Keaton Styles who would slip over the try line to put the ball down and score the first try in the game to go up 7-0. James Bay would have opportunity three times with near trys, but CW would defend well the line turning away all three chances. James Bay would finally answer with a try of their own on the strong effort of the scrum to back up the Castaway Wanderers. Ben Johnson’s try, would provide the points to pull close 7-5 on a rare missed conversion by Mitrou.
With field conditions deteriorating and any aspiration of using the wings for offense virtually nullified, the game would be put in the hands of the scrum and boot to advance the ball. CW would open up a five-point lead on a successful penalty kick to mark a 10-5 score. In a half that looked to go much CW’s way, James Bay would find advantage with time running out in the first half, when an ill-advised penalty was assessed to CW’s Connor Turner would put his team short a man. James Bay’s Sean White would take a ball from scrum half Phil Mack to run it from short distance, contested, to dive over for the score with first half time expired for give the Bays their first lead in the game 12-10 on the converted try.
The second half would be played in half light as skies darkened further, giving way “spirited play” as both squads looked for any hidden advantage to further their team’s plight. James Bay would appear to receive the greatest benefit of the referee’s whistle, as CW would be penalized frequently to tilt the game the Bays way.
Two successive CW penalties within one minute of play would give James Bay’s Mitrou all that was needed to make the difference in the game, making good on 2-3 penalty kicks to pull out of range of a CW comeback. Full time would be called late by the referee due to poor light and unsafe field conditions, denying CW any chance, however improbable, at a come from behind win.