BC Bears, proudly sponsored by Langara Fishing Adventures, launched their 2017 Canadian Rugby Championship campaign with an emphatic win at UBC Thunderbird Stadium, beating Prairie Wolf Pack 43-0. Running in a total of seven tries and dictating play for most of the match, the Bears gave the home fans much to cheer about in the late evening sun.

The Bears got off to a strong start, Luke Campbell crossing the line for a try after just 3 Minutes, the conversion added by Guisseppie Du Toit. That first notch on the scoreboard seemed to spur the side on, and soon they crossed the try line once again, this time Taitusi Vikilani touching down with du Toit adding a further two points to leave the scoreboard at 14-0 after 17mins. Wolf Pack had so far done little to trouble the Bears’ defence. Eager to get on the board, they opted for a long range penalty at the 26min mark but drifted wide. Few other opportunities would come their way. BC Bears kept the pressure on and were rewarded when Brock Staller surged over the line, du Toit adding his third conversion. At the end of the first half, the scoreboard read 21-0 in favour of the Bears.

When the match resumed, and now playing out of the sun, it was clear that the Bears intended to shift up a gear. Just a minute in to the second half, Phil Mack provided a superb grubber kick for Brock Stellar, who grounded the ball right at the corner flag. A missed conversion meant the scoreboard read 26 – 0.

With the bit clearly between their teeth, BC players attacked each phase with real energy, some scintillating runs drawing cheers from the crowd. Wolf Pack worked tirelessly to defend and interrupt the flow of the game where possible. Discipline and conviction nearly paid off as they got to within 5m of the Bears’ try line, but to no avail. Improvising well in broken play, BC added three more tries to their tally from Connor Weyell, Aaron McLelland and Brock Staller on his hat-trick.  Guisseppe du Toit added a conversion to the tally, leaving him 4/7 for the match.

Speaking after the match, BC Bears’ coach Tony Healy gave a measured response.  “First of all, I’m very happy about the result and proud of all the players” he began, “but there is a lot of room for improvement.  We left points on the board out there, so there is plenty of work to do ahead of August”.  When quizzed about performances from the team, Healy responded, “there were some great plays out there from guys like Brock (Staller) and Phil (Mack), but I would like to recognise the great work from all the forwards too.”

While opinions may differ on the performances on the field, there are some important positives for the BC Bears that are hard to dispute.  All of the squad had an opportunity to get a taste of the action, the team has a solid platform to build on moving forward and most importantly, they secured the win.  It will be interesting to see what Tony Healy and his team do between now and August 13 in Calgary, but this was a great start to the 2017 Canadian Rugby Championship for the BC Bears.

BC Bears scoring:

Try: Campbell, Vikilani, Staller (3), Weyell, McLelland

Conversion: Guisseppe du Toit

BC Bears Squad:

1. Anthony Luca

2. Andrew Lackner

3. Jake Ilnicki

4. Craig McLaughlin

5. Connor Weyell

6. Luke Campbell

7. Nakai Penny

8. Taitusi Vikilani

9. Phil Mack

10. Harjun Gill

11. Mike Nieuwenhuysen

12. Giusseppe DuToit

13. George Barton

14. Anton NGongo

15. Aaron McLelland

16. Paul Ahn

17. Neil Courtney

18. Doug Fraser

19. Travis Larsen

20. Cam Polson

21. Jordan Reid-Harvey

22. Gavin Rowell

23. Brock Staller

Prairie Wolf Pack Squad:

1. Peter Houlihan

2. Wayde Hodgen

3. Ryan Kotlewski

4. Conor Turner

5. Lucas Albornoz

6. Kyle Morrison

7. Kyle Gilmour

8. Clay Panga

9. Jake Robinson

10. Robbie Povey

11. Adam Bontus

12. Gradyn Bowd

13. Mozac Samson

14. Liam O’Hallahan

15. Carl Pocock

16. Anthony Battistone

17. Nick McAuley

18. Casey Reed

19. Connor Gilbert

20. Jeremy Kyne

21. James O’Neill

22. Jake Bentley

23. Ian Shoults