Rowers fight out victory in 1st div; seconds lost heart-breaker in OT--
|The Rowers win the Okanagan Spring Brewery League One |
championship game 36-24 over Bayside.
The Vancouver Rowing Club are provincial champions.
Despite some early adversity in the 1st division championship game May 5 at Klahanie Park, the Rowers successfully mounted a second-half comeback to emerge victorious in the Okanagan Spring Brewery League One provincial championship final, downing the Bayside Sharks 36-24.
The Rowing Club 2nd division team also fought a hard battle with Bayside in the Okanagan Spring Brewery League Two final, but ultimately came up short in overtime, losing 41-24.
In the first championship final of the day for the Rowing Club, the Super-Twos played an evenly matched, seesaw type of game, with the Sharks. They traded leads and tied three times during the game: 7-7, 17-17, and 24-24. Nothing was resolved after 80 minutes and the teams took the 24-all score into extra time.
|The Super-Twos get a team photo after their extra-time loss to Bayside |
in the 2nd div provincial title game, 41-24.
In the extra frame, the Sharks managed to capitalize on some VRC errors and ran in three tries, ending the Rowers’ hope for victory. Bayside outscored the Rowers 17-0 in extra time. Final score: 41-24.
VRC try scorers: Lucas Clark, Karl Mudzamba, and Simon D’Agrosa (2).
In a pre-match message to the team, head coach Jeremy Sabell encouraged his players to put in the “biggest, 80-minute effort” of their lives. “Don’t wait for anyone else to stand up and be the one,” he wrote. “Make it start with you.” Taking his advice, the team started strong and played well in the opening quarter of the game.
The Rowers scored very early in the match when Duncan James intercepted a Bayside pass, touching it down under the posts. Bayside replied about 10 minutes later and the match was even, 7-7.
But the Rowers then faced some adversity when two key players were injured. “Matt James and Doug Crowe were both knocked out of the game with injuries,” Sabell said. “I think our young guys lost a bit of self belief.”
That’s when young Henry Recinos stepped in and played fly-half, covering Crowe’s position, and covering for James’ kicking duties. Sabell was confident Recinos could “stand up” and play and Recinos rose to the challenge. “Henry took us home,” Sabell added.
The teams continued to trade blows. Graham Keane punched one over for the Rowers and Bayside answered right back. After the injuries though, Bayside seemed to capture the momentum. They added a try and a penalty to take a 17-12 lead into the half-time break.
|Michael Jordan runs into two Bayside tacklers early |
early in the game.
Bayside extended their lead early in the second half with a converted try to go up 24-12.
But then the Rowers began mounting a comeback. Steve Craig ran in a try to close the gap to seven points. Then Recinos tied the game, scoring in the corner and converting his own try. Next up, the forwards too control when front-row Noah Barker pounded one in. Late in the game, the Rowers were up by seven, 31-24.
It was still anyone’s game until Craig connected with Karl Mudzamba around the Bayside 22. The play developed after some tight forward play near centre when Craig took a pass and zig-zagged down the pitch past three Bayside defenders.
“As soon as we got the ball wide, I knew we were going to have a chance,” Craig said. “The support was great.”
|Steve Craig on one his many rambles during the match.|
After Craig raced down the field, he found Mudzamba streaking near him in support. “Steve beat three guys and set me up through the gap. All I had to do was catch the ball and finish.” said Madzumba. “He gave me the ball, I scored, and we sealed the game.”
Clawing their way back from a 12-point deficit, the Rowers scored 24 unanswered points to put an exclamation mark on their victory.
|Karl Mudzamba races down the pitch.|
|Noah Barker scores a try.|
Sabell added that the first and second team squads were a pleasure to coach this year. “Your efforts on the field, in both games, were the most inspiring I have ever seen in 25 years of playing and coaching rugby.”
VRC try scorers: Duncan James, Noah barker, Graham Keane, Steve Craig, Henry Recinos, and Karl Mudzamba.
--with files from Braden Maccke.
All photos, except close-up picture of the Cup, by Attilio Mastrota.