VICTORIA – Second-year fullback Brennig Prevost scored three tries in the first half and the defence took over from there, as the UVic Vikes men’s rugby team earned a 45-22 victory over one of the top teams in the BC Premier League at Wallace Field on Feb. 17.
“I thought we played really well today overall, they are a tough team to deal with physically but we didn’t back down and exploited their mistakes to score some nice tries in the first half, so I’m very happy,” said Vikes head coach Doug Tate.
The win over third-place Burnaby Lake was crucial for a Vikes team that has now earned 11 of a possible 15 points in the three games they have played after the winter break.
“The big thing is that the defence has gotten better,” said Tate on his team’s strong start to the second half of their schedule. “We are also playing for each other more and not trying to do too much individually.”
With six games left to play, the Vikes are now sit eighth-place in the standings and their 29 points are just five behind James Bay for the sixth and final playoff spot.
“We are going to need some help from other teams along the way, but if we beat Seattle next weekend then we are within sight of the teams ahead of us,” said Tate,
Along with the three tries from Prevost; Ethan Hager touched the ball down past the try line twice, with James O’Neill and Jackson Matthews each adding a try apiece. Gradyn Bowd had another solid effort in the kicking game, dealing with extremely windy conditions, the third-year Vike knocked through two conversions and a penalty while James Pitblado rounded out the scoring with a rare drop goal.
“Ethan Hager showed his speed and class today, he was really good,” said Tate. “The forwards; James O’Neill, Oliver Nott were all over the place and the tight five did their job, they won most of the lineouts and even though we lost some important scrums, they played well.”
After the teams traded tries in the opening four minutes of action, the Vikes dominated the rest of the opening half; using the wind, blowing hard at their backs, to their advantage.
Prevost scored two tries in just three minutes before O’Neill got in on the action, putting the Vikes up 22-5 after 20 minutes of play.
Burnaby Lake answered back with a try of their own in the 25th minute, but a third try from Prevost and a successful penalty from Bowd sent the Vikes into the break with a commanding 30-10 lead.
With the teams switching sides at the half, the surging wind favoured Burnaby for the rest of the game, but it was the Vikes who controlled the ball for much of the final 40 minutes.
A burst of speed from Hager and the drop goal from Pitblado widened the Vikes lead with 30 minutes left to go and from there the defence stood strong.
“The midfield held well against two very talented runners and it was one of our better performances in what were tough conditions,” said Tate.
The team will now head out on the road for their next three games in a row, playing away against Seattle, UBC Old Boys and the Meralomas. Their next home game will come on March 24, when they welcome Island rival Westshore to Wallace Field.