Ravens D-Up for the Win Ravens 14 v Burnaby 8 - Match Report by Peter MacDonald
A strong Ravens fifteen was looking forward to a big test with Burnaby on this first weekend in February and that’s definitely what they got. The Ravens earned the victory with a gutsy defensive effort but you could also say they stole it, as in seizing their few opportunities, so the theft was fair and square.
Burnaby served notice early on that they were going to bring it with some hard straight runs from their big centres Vunituraga and Gotegote and some direct rugby from the pack. But the Ravens also showed from the get go that they were going to stick their tackles repeatedly. Vunituraga had a head of steam in the early going when Jordan Sandover-Best took him down low head on and the die was cast. Burnaby would have the possession and carry the ball and the Ravens would tackle and try to scrounge a few points.
A yellow card to Chris Taylor for a dump tackle at 13 minutes aided the Burnaby cause but Burnaby were one for three in penalty kicks and leading 3-0 at 18 minutes when Sean Ferguson stepped into the Burnaby backline and snagged a pass. He took it 80 metres for the try against the run of play and with the Ravens down a man for a 7-3 Ravens’ lead. From there the Ravens had the upper hand in many sets and they defended tirelessly but they weren’t creating much in attack that would worry the visitors. Simone Etheve and David O’Donoghue on the flanks seemed to be in every tackle and just before the half the Ravens dug in near their line and defended as a team for minutes. At 39 minutes the toll began to show as #8 Karl Moran went off for a blood sub and hooker Paul Ahn was removed with concussion concerns. The halftime whistle was a reprieve.
Chris Taylor ready to place ball back, Sean Ferguson waiting (pjCARR)
It was more of the same in the second half but the Ravens at least had some fresh bodies. Connor Hamilton had come in at #8, Curtis Delmonico in the front row and Ben Grant in the centres. At 45 minutes a threatening Burnaby lineout/maul was stopped. As the Burnaby possession ramped up so did the penalty count against the Ravens but that is usually the case when a team is constantly tackling and defending rucks. A steal by Dim Gotsopoulos, hard tackles by Chris Taylor, Adam McQueen and the flankers among many others kept Burnaby at bay. A Burnaby knock on at the Ravens’ line at 71 minutes foiled a try, keeping the score at 7-3 Ravens till 73 minutes.
At that point the Ravens’ defence produced another try. From a 5 metre scrum outside the Burnaby line the Ravens got a push on and the Burnaby #8 picked up and went right but from inside the Burnaby in goal area. A Conner Hamilton tackle dislodged the ball and Ben Grant slapped a hand on it in no time for another fortunate try, 14-3 Ravens.
Burnaby still had energy and will and they marched into the Ravens’ 22 promptly and after the ball was held up in goal and an attacking 5 metre scrum the visitors ran through the Ravens’ centres for a late try. But with a rushed conversion missed, the score moved to 14-8 only and a converted try was still needed for a Burnaby win. They nearly had it as Burnaby were back on the doorstep with seconds remaining when Sean Ferguson shot up again and grabbed a pass in the Burnaby backfield and took it to ground for a ruck. Sandover-Best calmly lifted the ball from the hind foot, stepped away from the fray and punted the ball into touch gently to bring up the final whistle.
Jon Phelan working hard at the ruck, Jorden Sandover-Best looking for opportunity (pjCARR)
It was a frustrating day for Burnaby to be sure. Vidala, Mosychuk and Govorchin led the forwards and the 9/10 combo of Higgins and Caithness was sharp all day. A second 6 point loss to the Ravens this year will not sit well despite the bonus point. The Ravens’ concern may be the lack of ball and the lack of offence but being able to get it done without much ball is a good trait to have when needed. Sean Ferguson was a difference maker and as long as the risk reward ratio is favourable he will have the green light.
The Rippers continued their winning ways with a spirited 27-14 victory over a good Burnaby side. Kelepi Gucake notched two tries leading the Rippers in their climb up the standings going 3 for three since the break. Competition for positions is breaking out everywhere, a good problem to have. It’s off to Westshore in two weeks for the last island trip.