A wildcard wildcat and Vancouver Island muscle carried the day Saturday as the Final Four for the 2019 B.C. junior boys rugby championships were decided.
North Vancouver’s Rockridge Ravens, a wildcard quarterfinal qualifier who came into the eight-team bracket with the lowest seed, upset the Fraser Valley champ and No. 1 seeded Abbotsford Panthers.
Meanwhile, Shawnigan Lake and Victoria’s St. Michaels University School Blue Jags, along with Vancouver’s St, George’s Saints also punched Final Four tickets in advance of Wednesday’s provincial semifinals at Abbotsford’s Rotary Stadium.
Here’s a look at all four matches:
No. 1 ROCKRIDGE 26 No. 8 ABBOTSFORD 17
BURNABY — Led by an outstanding all-round effort by its workhorse No. 8 Clayton Miller, as well as scrum half Felipe Garavelli and Grade 9 inside centre Charlie Graf, West Vancouver’s Ravens matched the physicality of a talented Abbotsford team to come away with the win.
“Rockridge was a well-coached team of physical players,” said Abbotsford coach Chris Kleisinger. “They were relentless at the breakdown with a very committed structure of play.”
That play ultimately yielded a costly goal line turnover by the Panthers with under two minutes remaining.
Kleisinger added that Rockridge’s strong tackling from its inside backs took away space and opportunity and didn’t allow Abbotsford to flourish from No. 10 through the centres.
No. 3 ST. GEORGE’S 43 No. 6 KELOWNA 12
KELOWNA — Sam Shapray scored a pair of first-half tries and Ethan Lee added another, all part of an early flourish of team-driven offence which lifted St. George’s to a 26-7 halftime lead en route to a victory over the host Owls.
After having surrendered the final points of the first half, Saints regrouped and started the second by adding a pair of tries after strong work from outside centre Brian Kim.
The visitors added one more try after a smart box kick from captain Lochlann MacDonald, who also kicked four converts.
No. 4 SMUS 22 No. 5 LANGLEY 14
VICTORIA — Second-seeded St. Michaels University School battled a very feisty and committed Langley squad, with the Fraser Valley No. 2 giving as good as it got in one of two games played at a stormy Wallace Field on the campus of the University of Victoria.
In the end, in a game influenced significantly by driving rain and treacherous handling conditions, the Victoria independent edged home 22-14.
SMUS advances to face Rockridge in its semifinal encounter.
Prop Allistair Catto staked the Blue Jags to an early 5-0 lead, crashing over in the left corner after a series of forward drives.
Yet, almost immediately, following some raking diagonals and clever grubber kicks that stretched the SMUS defence, Eh Sa Kwa leveled the score, with Langley then going up 7-5 after a superb touchline conversion by Say Eh Say.
Toby Wu, on another forward charge, put SMUS back in front 10-7 before Luka Djurickovic went over six minutes into the second half. Lewis Xiong added the extras to stretch the SMUS lead to 10.
Undeterred, the Saints responded immediately, with Dominic Matuziak ploughing over close to the posts. Say Eh Say made no mistake with the kick, and Langley was back within three at 17-14.
While somewhat against the run of play, Gareth Coward scored a fourth try for SMUS, as the Blue Jags spent most of the final quarter of the game penned in their own quarter. Only some brave tackling and a slippery ball combined to keep Langley at bay.
SMUS coach Chris Linn acknowledged there was little to choose between the two sides.
“The steady rain made it very difficult to string phases together, and there were times it was almost better not to have possession of the ball,” Linn commented. “We are perhaps a bit fortunate to advance, but look forward to the Final 4 in Abbotsford next week.”
No. 2 SHAWNIGAN LAKE def. No. 7 BRENTWOOD COLLEGE
VICTORIA — In the second game, a rampant Shawnigan took advantage of improved weather, taking a 33-7 halftime lead against a shorthanded Brentwood side that had, at the last minute, replaced Lower Mainland runner-up Carson Graham in the tournament.
For the Stags, flyhalf Tom Morrissey notched a hat trick and kicked intelligently, while Aidan Docherty, Sewon Sung and Ben Kim, part of a pack that carried well all afternoon, added single tries after the half-time break. Seiya Tanaka-Campbell enjoyed a tidy afternoon in midfield, displaying clever footwork and some neat passing skills.
Tight head prop Gavin van Oostrom and flanker Tareq Alansari were stalwarts in the loss for Brentwood College with Alansari making a game-high 14 tackles.
Shawnigan now moves on to the B.C. Final Four to face St. George’s.
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