Veteran muscle overcomes youthful hustle – game report: Meraloma v UVic (September 15, 2012)

16/09/2012 § Leave a comment

Having an experienced, reliable forward pack will always take you a long way in rugby. That’s been the key to Argentina’s solid debut in the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship and Meraloma Rugby proved the same point on Saturday at Connaught Park against the University of Victoria.

MERALOMA 27 (8)
Tries: Hall, Wilson, Mercier, Jenkins Conversions: Wilson (2) Penalty: Wilson

UVIC VIKES 5 (5)
Try: Wyatt

Meraloma were 27-5 victors over the Vikes, using a veteran-laded, powerful forward pack to their advantage. The youthful vigour shown by the students wasn’t enough to overcome their hosts, who organization on Saturday belied the haphazard pre-season experienced at the venerable westside Vancouver club.

After a relatively even first half, the Lomas kept the ball in tight for much of the second, using their experienced forward pack to overwhelm physically their younger opponents.

“We were behind the eight ball to get things going but our last 25 minutes was our best,” said Meraloma captain Eric Wilson. Keeping the ball in tight was always  the major key to a victory against a youthful side like UVic’s, he felt.

“Always against these highflying guys, it’s better to use the forwards, right?” said the ex-Canada scrum half, who scored a try and kicked a penalty and two conversion in leading his team to victory.

A first-half try for Meraloma number eight Lynyrd Hall was the happy result of disciplined driving maul that started at the UVic 22 metres line and finished just shy of the goal line. Hall’s powerful pick-and-go secured the score.

Wilson missed the conversion, but did make an earlier penalty, setting Meraloma out to a 8-0 lead after 14 minutes.

UVic replied just six minutes later, fullback Kane Wyatt scoring off a beautiyatful sweeping set move to the outside by the Vikes’ backline. Starting at the halfway line, Wyatt burst through the outside defence and dotted down near the corner.

Wyatt missed the conversion attempt, as well as a later penalty, leaving the half time score at 8-5 to the home team. The Meralomas might have been disappointed by the score line at that point, having dominated possession for most of the half.

“Their physicalness and our inability to convert in the red zone were the story,” said UVic veteran Tony La Carte. The veteran La Carte is back for his third stint with the varsity.

“Sammy Jenkins always is a threat on the field and Mercier and Wilson, I always like going up against these guys,” he said. “They are all gamers over there.”

In the second half, breaks by UVic winger Kenton Styles, La Carte and Wyatt went unexploited, before a 53rd-minute yellow card to Vikes prop Callum Busfield dramatically changed the game.

Forced to juggle their forward pack, UVic came under immediate pressure from the Meralomas, nearly conceding a pushover try before Wilson darted through a hole and touched down. Converting his own try, he extended his team’s lead to 15-5.

A long sprint for a try in the 68th minute by winger Shawn Mercier (converted by Wilson) put the game away. Jenkins closed the game with a try in the corner, set up by an ambitious between-the-legs pass by Wilson.

Meraloma coach Angel Cividanes was pleased with the result, especially given what little time he and his new coaching staff had in preparing for the season’s first game.

“For a starting point it’s a good start. The backs had good running lines,” he said.

And although he agreed the experienced Loma forwards were highly influential in the victory, he took time to single out one of the club’s youngest recruits for a strong game.

“The new prop from Manitoba, Jason Galbraith, I think he’s a good asset,” he said.

UVic coach Doug Tate also took a positive approach to the game.

“We started out quite well, being down three points at halftime was good,” he said.

But it was the in forwards that the game was settled.

“Just up front, we just got beat up a little bit,” he said.

“We had some opportunities, we had three or four breakaways but came away with no points. Credit to the Lomas for their defence, too,” he said.

“We saw some good young players playing today,” he said.

He also felt preparation was difficult with late changes to the squad being forced by the callups to the Canadian Rugby Championship.

“We had to shuffle guys around this week because our hooker’s with the Wolfpack. Primary possession was a problem for us today,” he said.

TEAMS

MERALOMA
Mile Racic, Mike Georgas, Jason Galbraith, Patrick Service (Tom Rouche), Brian Erichsen, Lynyrd Hall, Lee Nystrom, Josh Clarke, Eric Wilson (c), Simon Caccioppoli, Shawn Mercier, Sam Jenkins, Paget McCormack (Steffan Evans), Joel Nystrom, Mike Hall (Niall Sheehan)

UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA
Callum Busfield (Yellow Card 13), Liam Murray, Jake Ilnicki (Nikolai Sinoka), Shea Wakefield (Dan Hoester), Lukas Balkovec, Drew Langer (Kevin Leesk), Chase Kelliher (Zack Myers), Robbie Anderson, Raubi Dillon, Tony La Carte, Keaton Styles, Remi Anctil, Aaron Johnston, Beau Parker, Kane Wyatt (Luke Mcloskey)

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