Collingwood's Tyler Preston (left, stripes) scored his second try of the match as the defending B.C. champion Cavaliers topped Victoria's SMUS Blue Jags on Thursday in North Vancouver. (Photo by Mark Liu property of Collingwood athletics 2019. All Rights Reserved) (Photo by Mark Liu property of Collingwood athletics 2019. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Rugby

04.20.19 Varsity Letters B.C. high school rugby early-weekend edition: AA’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 clash, plus Tweedy & Rockridge dramatic winners

Welcome to Varsity Letters holiday weekend edition of the B.C. Boys High School Rugby Report. 

We’re publishing ahead of the now-regular Monday posting day due to the nature of the holiday long weekend.

We will, however, follow with a Monday posting if details from a number of as-yet-unreported matches are received here at Varsity Letters.

To avoid confusion, Monday will be the regular publication date for the Varsity Letters B.C. boys high school rugby report, including those weekends in which Stadium Series matches are played.


NORTH VANCOUVER — A spring tour Down Under looks to have the defending B.C. Double A champion and No. 1-ranked Cavaliers in a good place early in the season.

Tyler Preston’s two first-half tries helped spark the West Vancouverites to a convincing first-half lead over Victoria’s visiting, No. 2-ranked St. Michaels University School Blue Jags.

“We were very pleased with the win,” said Collingwood coach Dave Speirs. “Obviously, our tour to Australia really paid dividends. We played some very good teams over there (to finish 2-3) and were disappointed not to win our final game to give ourselves a winning record. However, the tough games definitely made us better.”

SMUS opened with some good initial pressure, but we were unable to turn over some ball at crucial times defensively.

Collingwood fly-half Nate Holm, who made a nice break and then side-stepped the SMUS fullback, scored the game’s first try.

Preston added a pair, before Joel Abdel-Barr added one of his own before the half.

In the second half, Collingwood continued to execute.

Joey Ficocelli drove over after a punishing run by Kirk Fuller, then Harry Philpotts made a terrific break and linked with No. 8 Thomas Foote for the Cavs’ final try. SMUS’ Jacob Robb later found touch for the Jags to wrap up the scoring, his try converted by Will Kinahan.

“Full credit to a very well-drilled Collingwood side,” said SMUS head coach Ian Hyde-Lay. “They were superior in all facets of the game. They forced us into many errors and we paid the full price for them.”


LANGLEY — Leads of 17-0 and 24-5 may have appeared as cozy, early security blankets for Surrey’s visiting Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers.

A run of 19 straight points, however, by the host Red Hawks later in the match knotted the Fraser Valley Tier clash in the late going, setting the stage for a dramatic 11th-hour rally by the Panthers.

Deep in his own end, Tweedsmuir’s Grade 11 lock forward Mason Godard completely ball-hawked the Red Hawks to steal away possession of the ball.

Despite the temptation to run the ball himself, inside centre Graeme Godard then wisely distributed to his left where the dynamic football kick-return ace Yosef Drysdale did his best Barry Sanders, freezing defenders with his low centre of gravity to score the winning points.

Drysdale later converted to make the 31-24 final complete.

Flanker Morgan Stanford, Graeme Godard and fly-half Travis Brown, the latter’s score accompanied by a Drysdale convert, took turns scoring the first three tries of the match for a 17-0 Tweedsmuir lead.

Even when Poppy’s Kasper Henderson scored to make it 17-5 at the interval, the Panthers had an answer, this time in the form of Drysdale, who juked and blazed his way past the Red Hawks’ defence for a 24-5 lead to open the second-half scoring.

With a mountain to climb, the Red Hawks geared down, then quickly pulled within 12 points on great ball movement, capped with a converted Guillem Verdaguer try.

George Brown then scored in the corner, before Henry Brown tied the match with a hard run that he was himself able to convert.

All of that set the stage for Drysdale’s winning run.

“It was a great battle,” admitted Tweedsmuir head coach Walter van Halst.


WEST VANCOUVER — One error is all it took for the host Ravens to score a narrow win over Vancouver’s visiting Sir Charles Tupper Tigers in a battle of Top 10 Double-A teams.

No. 4-ranked  Rockridge was able to dominate possession in the first half, but No. 5 Tupper’s relentless tackling was equally as impressive, and thus the match was locked in a scoreless halftime draw.

In the second half, the Tigers misplayed a ball at the back of their scrum which allowed Rockridge scrum half Jackson Graf to alertly scoop up a loose ball and score under the posts for a 7-0 lead.

“As always, Tupper was a disciplined, well-coached team that played hard rugby,” said Rockridge head coach Perino Zambon, which ahead of its Tuesday home match against Sutherland has gone 3-0 overall against B.C. foes, allowing just one converted try in the process.

Top-notch Ravens included the senior trio of Kris Kemp, Anson Adshade and Seb Geddes.

For the Tigers (2-2 overall), who came into play after season-opening wins over Glenlyon Norfolk and Point Grey and a loss to Kitsilano, scrum half Henry Bibby and No. 8 Jason Ubial has strong outings.

The effort was Tupper’s best-ever against Rockridge as it generated the first points the program has ever recorded against the longtime North Shore heavyweights. The Tigers earned a bonus point for being within seven points.


NORTH VANCOUVER — On a soggy Lucas Centre field, West Vancouver pressured from the outset, scoring early to set the tone en route to a decisive win over North Vancouver’s  Argyle Pipers in a Triple A contest.

The Highlanders went into the game both suffering from the injury bug and down in numbers due to the Easter long weekend.

That meant starting some untested players in the pack, including Grade 10 Beaudry Leman at No. 8 who had a strong game running the ball and setting a platform for the Highlanders’ backs.

West Vancouver’s Matt Lane stepped into the captain’s role and his quick feet and elusive side-stepping ripped through the Argyle defence for two tries.

Scrum-half Grady Palfrey scored a classic No. 9 try with fantastic inside support running, taking a feed from Lane to finish off under the post.

Simon Li and Steve Choi put in strong performances up front, as did Grade 11 Nick Austin at second row.

“Argyle played hard and tackled right to the end,” said Highlanders coach Paul Welsh. “Once we had the game in hand, we emptied the bench. It was great to see kids get some real minutes who have been working hard at training.”


VICTORIA — In a match contested under heavy, sustained rains, Keegan Neary’s two tries, split between the halves, proved to be the difference in a cross-city derby which saw the Spartans top the Bulldogs.

Belmont looked to use their size and physical play to control possession, a strategy matched well to the wet and muddy conditions.

Claremont strived for a balanced attack, using a combination of forward crashes and expansive play by their talented backline. 

Michael Awor opened the scoring for Claremont at the two-minute mark, catching a ball on the wing at pace and taking it down the sideline to touch.

A few minutes later, Neary made it 12-0 for the Spartans, scoring from a set move from a 22-metre attacking scrum and adding the convert

Belmont answered with a try of their own late in the first half.

Conditions worsened throughout the second half, limiting opportunities for both teams.

Belmont’s hard running around the offensive rucks proved difficult to stop but yielded no second-half points. Claremont’s backs struggled with the slippery ball and poor footing. Neary scored the only points of the second half around the midway point, successfully slipping a number of tackles and scoring a try on the outside, but failing to convert it.

Claremont’s players selected Udhay Nijjer and Ryder Heaney-Corns as their Men of the Match. The Claremont coaches recognized Rylan Knudsen for his excellent play, filling in the squad’s regular scrum half.

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