The Rowing Club Reserves came up short against historic Victoria-based Rival James Bay Athletic Association today, in a 40-27 loss that featured a strong effort, mounted too late.
The Reserves had trouble tackling early on, allowing some well-run clever attack lines from the hosts to break for long carries, one of which put them on the board in the 8th minute, and seemed to stun the Rowers. The Reserves were running the pattern, but not looking like themselves, especially not on defense. The hosts added another try in the 13th minute to put the Reserves down 12-10, breaking the Rowers D with a very simple and effective attack. Perhaps with that deficit in mind, the squad began ball hawking on defense, abandoning traditional chop tackles in favor of attempts to dislodge the ball. The hosts were able to play simple, hard-running pattern, keep their legs moving, and hit the gaps for deep runs and another try in the 27th minute.
Winger Luis Groot was able to get his team on the board in the 29th minute by putting himself in a position to take an offload from Paddy O’Connell around the 10m line with a strong support line. More poor tackling and strong kicking by the host yielded another try before the half.
The reserves were disappointed in their effort at half time, frustrated at being behind to a team they knew they could beat. Coach Seyler patiently repeated that the Rowers weren’t tackling low enough, weren’t coming up on defense, and were going to lose if they didn’t start defending.
And the Rowers were indeed able to answer in the second half. Tackles got lower, taking away James Bay’s inside attacke, forcing them to use the outside speed of former Rower and Current James bay backline staple Nate Tough for their next try. But the Reserves didn’t quit. Groot was able to take a ball away from a held-up attacker in the James Bay end to start an attack that culminated in Captain Scylar Dumas finding paydirt off of a counter attack.
Veteran VRC prop and one time Ferguson Cup champion Justin “The Consillieri” Wong added another try shortly afterwards, as the Rowers pounded the ball in tight, a more experienced forward pack making a pick and go attack work beautifully in tight. As James Bay responded by committing additional defenders to the inside, the Rowers took advantage of the additional space outside, speedy back Nathan Sussex and deadly quick fly half Oisin Daly finding holes and making defenders miss.
The clock ultimately ran out on the Rowing Club’s high-motor second half, quite literally. Linear timekeeping on the Rowers’ sideline sent the substitutes in with 15 minutes left, but they had scarcely registered more than five minutes before the referee blew the game – a 40-27 final.
The Reserves will be back on the Island next weekend to take on Castaway Wanderers in their final fixture of the regular season.