Vikes concede opening Boot Game to visiting Thunderbirds

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VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s rugby team dropped a 44-24 decision to the visiting UBC Thunderbirds on Sept. 23 at Wallace Field. The Thunderbirds, who have claimed the last four Boot Series titles, also nabbed their first BC Premier League win to improve to a 1-2-0 record, while the Vikes fall to 0-3-0.

The Vikes had four different try scorers including one each from first years Ethan Hager and Logan Martin-Feek. Cathal Long and Carson O’Sullivan were the other two try scorers for the home team, while Guiseppe du Toit made two of four converts.

The Thunderbirds showed their dominance with seven tries, two each from eight-man Nick Allan and winger Sean Duke, while Theo Sauder tallied three convers and a penalty.

“Anytime a team scores seven tries to your four it’s not very often you’re going to win,” said Doug Tate, Vikes men’s rugby head coach. “Defence is our problem and we have to continue to work on it. We can’t give up 44 points and expect to win.”

UBC were the first to get on the board when Sauder found Duke wide open on the left side for the first try from of the game. Sauder completed the convert from a wide angle to give the Thunderbirds the 7-0 lead.

The Vikes were able to draw even 10 minutes later when Hager pushed over the try line after some quick passing to the left side of the field. Du Toit’s kick from a narrow angle was good to level the game 7-7.

UBC mirrored their opening try scoring again wide on the left side from Connor Sampson with another confident convert from Sauder to go up 14-7. The Thunderbirds showed their speed down the right side just three minutes later as Cole Keffer’s run lifted the T-Birds up 19-7.

The Vikes responded well coming down the left side. O’Sullivan’s strength broke the try line to get the home side on the board, while DuToit’s accuracy got the Vikes back within five, trailing 19-14.

The Thunderbirds got one more try before half from Nick Allen but the convert was missed by Sauder leaving the score at 24-14 for UBC entering half time.

Intensity peaked after the break as cautions were given and both team’s defence seemed to ramp up their physicality. The Thunderbirds secured two more tries, first in the 54th minute from Nick Allen, his second of the game, as he powered through traffic. Just four minutes later and Duke exposed the Vikes on the left side with some shifty footwork to score a sixth try for the T-Birds. Sauder missed both converts to settle the score at 34-14.

Just moments later a speedy Sauder had the crowd in awe as he shifted through a crowd of Vikes. Sauder came down the right side but Vikes Fullback Fergus Hall couldn’t contain him. Sauder fed the ball inside to Niko Clionomos for the clear try, while Sauder made good on the convert. Sauder’s play allowed the Thunderbirds to nab a 41-14 lead.

The Vikes scored their first try of the second half in the 67th minute on a nice run from Cathal Long down the right side of the pitch. DuToit just missed the convert as the Vikes now trailed 41-19 to UBC.

The Vikes were able to get one more try on the board from rookie Martin-Fleek but it wasn’t enough as the home side surrendered their first game of the Boot Series to UBC with a final score of 44-24.

“I thought Tyler Wong was really strong – a hooker, first year guy and that’s a real tough position and probably one of the most demanding positions on the field,” highlighted Tate of one of three stand outs today. “I thought he had an excellent game and was everywhere making lots of tackles. James O’Neillis a hard worker and flanker and took a lot of people out and was key for us. Cathal made some great runs and had some good breaks as a winger. Those three guys to me stood out and played very well today. They had a tough assignment against some of those wingers.”

Up next the Vikes will head up island for a road game against Nanaimo on Sept. 30 at 2:30 p.m.

“UBC have a really deep team and they don’t have many weaknesses on their team,” added Tate. “They have some big forward and lots of guys at the junior national team level. It’s a two-game total points for the Boot Series so we have a new team next week against Nanaimo so we have to re-group and find some wins. We have enough offense and just have to work on the other side of the ball.”

SCORING SUMMARY
VIC:        14 – 10 : 24
UBC:      24 – 20 : 44

SCORERS
4′ UBC TRY #11 Sean Duke, convert #15 Theo Sauder
13′ UVIC TRY #13 Ethan Hager, convert #12 Guiseppe duToit
20′ UBC TRY #2 Connor Sampson, convert #15 Theo Sauder
23′ UBC TRY #9 Cole Keffer, convert missed
26′ UVIC TRY #8 Carson O’Sullivan, convert #12 Guiseppe duToit
37′ UBC TRY # 8 Nick Allen, convert missed

54′ UBC TRY #8 Nick Allen, convert missed
58′ UBC TRY #11 Sean Duke, convert missed
62′ UBC TRY #12 Niko Clironomos, convert #15 Theo Sauder
67′ UVIC TRY #14 Cathal Long, convert missed
73′ UBC PEN #15 Theo Sauder
77′ UVIC TRY #23 Logan Martin-Feek, convert missed

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