The Ontario Blues became the third winner of the three-year-old Canadian Rugby Championship with a solid, if unspectacular 15-0 win over their nemesis, the Prairie Wolfpack.
The Blues came into the game having never beaten the black and silver, losing by 1, 2 and 8 points respectively, and were forced to work for 80 minutes in a very stop-start affair.
The visitors began with 10 minutes of possession, but Ontarios first clean attack resulted in a try from winger Jordan Wilson Ross, 5-0 Blues after 15 minutes.
Despite numerous scoring opportunities from both teams, neither could cross for the rest of a physical yet disjointed first half.
In the second half, the Wolfpack came out with five minutes of pressure on the Blues line, but the Blues defence held firm and much of the remainder of the game was played in the Wolfpack 22. First, Ontario pressure earned a simple penalty for Steve Piatek to knock over, then multiple phases on the Prairie line allowed scrum half Kyle Armstrong to sneak home, Piatek converting. Ontario ran their shutout streak to 158 minutes (having surrendered a try to Atlantic Rock in the second minute last week) and the Blues clinched their first CRC title. BC Bears won in 2009 and Atlantic Rock took the 2010 crown.
“All credit to the Prairies, who always give us lots of trouble,” said Blues coach Rob Doyle, “we looked out of sorts in the first half and really never cracked it open. The second half was much better but this was certainly a very difficult win, as are all games at this level.”
The Blues will host the Atlantic Rock next week at Burlington, 430 pm kickoff. The Rock will certainly have lots to play for, as a bonus point win would leave them second to Ontario in the final standings and Rock v Blues is always a huge rivalry. Other games on next weeks’ card at Burlington include University of Buffalo women against Brock University women; University of Guelph men against McMaster; and Rock U20 taking on Niagara U20.
“it should be a great rugby day at Burlington next week” said Blues Manager Mark Winokur, “and we are looking forward to a tough challenge from the Rock. Our guys know the job is not done yet and we have to finish the competition on a positive note.”