The BC Bears were overmatched by a formidable Prairie Wolf Pack side in the opening game of the Best of the West series in Red Deer, as the hosts took their home leg 38-6 at Great Chief Park.
The first half was fairly even – much of the match was played in midfield. The hosts opened the scoring with a try and conversion, but the Bears drew within one on consecutive penalty kicks. It looked as though the half would end with a single point separating the two sides, but the Wolf Pack won a penalty on the stroke of halftime and converted the ensuing kick to take a 10-6 lead into the intermission.
The Wolf Pack came alive in the second half, scoring 28 unanswered points. Much of the half was spent in Bears territory as the Wolf Pack attacked relentlessly and the Bears tried to hold on. The Prairie players simply seemed to have more legs in the second half, consistently outrunning the Bears defenders down the flanks to score or force penalties. Gordon McRorie was fantastic with the boot, scoring three straight penalty kicks to increase the Wolf Pack advantage to 13. Jakob Butler of Victoria’s James Bay AA was another standout player for the Prairie side using his speed and agility to set up his teammates and score tries of his own.
The Bears did make forays into the opposing half, but the Wolf Pack defence quickly stifled any attempts at cutting into the rapidly increasing Prairie lead with their unwavering physical defence, and the visitors were prone to errors such as knock-ons and poorly executed rucks.
The Bears have an opportunity to turn the tie around on home soil when they take on the Wolf Pack in Kelowna on July 27th.