Ravens Strike Early Ravens 36 – Lomas 10: Match Report by Peter MacDonald
Rugby was back at Jericho after the long winter break and the fans, who were Jonesing for a game, as Georgian/Old Boy Bobby Brown is wont to say, got a three-game slate with wins across the board for the home club. The Lomas, who have been setting the standard for the past year, crossed over Alma Street from “County Kits” and suffered their first loss of the season at the Premier level and, like last year, they will look to reverse things if the two teams were to meet again in the playoffs.
On a cool cloudy day, with the field in good shape after the park board crew rolled the pitch mid-week, a first ever alumni game kicked off proceedings at 11am. By all accounts it was a fast-paced legit game with flow and, thankfully, no major injuries. It could be a thing, or, with big numbers at practice these days, a third team is an idea now being thrown around. The Rippers took the reserve game 36-12 fielding a talented, deep team that now has competition for the chance to dress on a weekly basis.
The Ravens took the field hoping to avenge recent losses to the visitors and, after spotting the Lomas a 3-0 lead in the first minute, they went off impressively for four tries by the quarter mark bringing the score to 26-3. First fullback Jake Holmes intercepted a Loma pass as their backs were advancing and he took it in on his own untouched. Then the Lomas sent a high ball to a waiting Aaron McLelland in space inside the Loma half… never a good idea. He headed right, outside of the defending winger, and powered past him like a 200-metre runner coming off the bend only to send it inside to scrum half Sam Walton-Sexton who then returned the ball outside to Cole Keffer in stride for the finish. McLelland, from his #10 position, then laid down a grubber from close range wrong-footing the defence and Raven centre Hamish Janes dove on it for the third try. Finally, hooker Viann Wolmarans drove in the bonus point try from close range.
Play settled for the next 20 minutes. The Lomas had plenty of possession but much of it was in their own half and, apart from a Raven penalty kick, there was no more scoring in the half, 29-3 at the break.
The Ravens struck again shortly after the break as #8 Joe Locke cut back against the grain and scored under the posts, 36-3. Unfortunately, the first half fireworks then gave way to a dismal hangovery second half of scrum resets and middle of the field meh. Like Paris Hilton, referee Shanda Assmus wasn’t happy with the engagement.
The Ravens stoutly held off the Lomas in the latter stages as the Loma forwards drove low toward the line. Joe Locke, man of the match in the forwards, stood up more attackers than I could count, but finally at 72 minutes the Lomas broke through for a close-range tally and that was all she wrote.
The Ravens speed in attack in the early stages was the difference. Polished, quick and incisive running and passing undid the visitors. As did Harjun Gill’s moment in the first half when he dropped a straight-ahead runner in his tracks, then followed up with another tackle and popped up to his feet with some loud explosive emoting, (well maybe not as pivotal)… but it was great! The pack too did its thing with positional pieces falling into place and depth creeping in which will strengthen the bench. Three lost lineouts in a row were the only blemish in the forwards. Good defending by locks Jim and Frank Carson and a big hit by flanker Trevor Helgason were of note. In the backs some fatigue appeared to set in, perhaps down to the 6 forwards/2 backs substitute allocation. All in all, a very good result though.
Now the long three-week wait for the next game, March 2 vs Westshore at home, then another week off followed by away games only till the April playoffs!!