VICTORIA – The UVic Vikes men’s rugby team rode a combination of solid defence and timely scoring to their second win of the B.C. Premier League season in a 21-15 victory over the Castaway Wanderers.
“We’ve had a couple of games that have gotten away from us late in similar circumstances that we should have closed out,” said Vikes head coach Doug Tate. “We are getting progressively better on defence, the guys are buying in and putting more effort into defence and that’s how you get wins.”
Gradyn Bowd was outstanding for the Vikes on the day, recording a try as well as knocking through three penalty goals and a convert. First-year Vikes Aidan McMullan and Jackson Matthews added a try apiece.
A rejuvenated Vikes defence made its presence felt almost immediately in the contest as they held a strong line against immense pressure from the Wanderers.
“We were able to cause a couple important turnovers,” said Tate. “James O’Neill is unbelievable at the breakdown, his work rate and tackling are superb.”
The Vikes would get on the board first when Bowd was good on his first penalty goal of the day in the 23rd minute.
Castaway, who came into the contest with a 5-1 record and in a tie for second place in the league, responded almost immediately after the Vikes score with a penalty goal of their own.
The Wanderers, who featured eight ex-Vikes in their line up, took the lead just five minutes later when Morgan Tate, son of the Vikes head coach, punched through the defence for a try.
“He’s good friends with all our guys and it’s what rugby is all about,” said Tate. “Our job is to develop these guys and hopefully they keep playing in the league and contributing back to the game.”
The Vikes answered back in the 32nd minute when McMullan weaved his way through the Wanderers defence to send the game into halftime with the score tied 10-10.
After the Wanderers scored just seconds into the second half, Bowd responded with a try in the 51st and another penalty goal in the 56th to give the Vikes back the lead.
The Wanderers pressed throughout much of the second half but the Vikes defence was strong with solid stands on their try line in both the 62nd and 73rd minutes.
The strong defensive play set the stage for Matthews to score an insurance try for the Vikes in the 79th minute of play. The 8-man from Beaconsfield, QC drove the ball through the heart of the Wanderers defence for the score.
“He got thrown into the line up late due to injury and I thought he was our best player,” said Tate of Matthews.
The win boosts the Vikes record to 2-5 on the season and they will get a chance to improve upon that mark when they travel to Vancouver to take on the Capilanos on Nov. 11.