Saturday 22, 2018 Victoria, BC (ISN) – Vancouver Island Rugby fans got a taste of USA’s Major League Rugby Saturday night as the Seattle Seawolves, playing a preseason warm-up, defeated the Vancouver Island Rugby Union’s Crimson Tide 48-7 at Westhills Stadium in Langford, BC.
The exhibition match up, the brain-child of organizer’s John Lyall and Phil Mack, pitted the best Vancouver Island has to offer against the professional side of the newly formed Major League Rugby.
“Going in to the game, we wanted it to be a showcase to show that the local talent can play with the professional league, and I think we did that”, Tide co-coach Sean White would explain after the game.
The Seattle Seawolves, playing in their inaugural season last year, look to repeat this season as league champions after finishing atop the eight-team USA league in 2018.
The Seawolves, not without Canadian content, were led by Seattle’s assistant head coach and Team Canada scrum half Phil Mack, George Barton, and Brock Staller.
The Crimson Tide, Vancouver Island’s representative rugby side, were led by veteran forwards such as Jon Braddock, Shea Wakefield, international Luke Campbell, , backs Sam Fowler, Jared Stephens, and Indigenous Player of the Year Crosby Stewart to name a few notables. With only two practices as a team prior to the match up, the Tide may have been hoping to perhaps catch the Seattle Seawolves in preseason form.
The Tide would fair well through the opening half play, holding the veteran Seattle side close with a strong defensive effort that, despite a 19-0 Seawolves lead, was closer in play than the score reflected.
The Tide would find a way to respond with time running out in the first half of play, scoring what would be their only tally in the game, when a defensive lapse by the Seawolves would allow the local side to break tackle and run from mid-field to set up a push across the Seattle line by James O’Neill, put the ball down to go to the locker room down 19-7.
The second half would belong to the pro-side, exploding for twenty-eight points in the final half alone. Taking advantage of the sidelines with quick ball movement to the outside, the Seawolves, spreading out the Tide’s line, would find advantage on the edges to advance the ball, seemingly wearing down the red and white.
With little reply left for the home side, the Seawolves would roll on to a comfortable 48-7 preseason victory.
Post game, co-coach Sean White was upbeat in his reflection of his team’s performance. “ In the first half we trying to find out how we were going to play the game. Not having a lot of time to prepare, we had an idea of what we wanted to try and do. At the end of the first half we found advantages around the break down that opened up opportunities with them. Unfortunately, the weather kicked in in the second half and seemed to take the wind out of our sails”.