It was an absolute fight until the final whistle but in the end the University of Victoria Vikes men’s rugby team came up just short in a 45-37 loss at the hands of the Castaway Wanderers in BC Premier League Quarter-final action on April 21.
The final score certainly didn’t tell the whole story, as a back and forth contest saw the Vikes trailing by just one point late in the game before the Wanderers were able to take advantage of a UVic squad in desperation attack mode to score a try on the last play of the game.
“It was a tough game to lose,” said Vikes head coach Doug Tate. “We made some little mistakes and the bounces just didn’t go our way today; defensively we just weren’t good enough, we let them score three or four easy tries and that is a twenty point swing right there.”
The loss brought to an end not only the Vikes 2017-18 season, but also the incredible eight-game winning streak that the team rode to a spot in the playoffs. While the disappointment in the team was plain to see after the game, there are still many positives to draw from the season for a young team that started with a record of just 3-8 before catching fire in the second half of the season. Throughout that streak, the Vikes picked up wins over the second-place UBCOB Ravens, third-place Burnaby Lake as well as fourth-place Castaway last weekend.
“We started knocking off some teams ahead of us in the standings, we kept getting bonus points and showed some real good fight in the second half of the season,” said Tate on his squad’s turnaround. “There are some really key guys that played outstanding. James O’Neill played hard every game, James Pitblado played very consistently in the second half. Some young guys like Gavin Kratz, Jack McCarthy, Jackson Matthews and others stepped up.”
“All in all this was a good season.”
Five different Vikes got their names on the scoresheet at Windsor Park on Saturday, with Brennig Prevost once again doing a good job in the kicking department to end with one try, two penalty goals and three conversions. Ethan Hager, Cathal Long, Macbryan Bos and Jackson Matthews all added a try apiece in the loss.
The scoring was nicely spread out amongst some promising young players; Prevost, Hager and Matthews as well as some key veterans in Bos and Long.
For Bos it was the final game that the fifth-year prop will don the Vikes blue and gold. Also suiting up for the Vikes for the final time were Jesse Burns and team captain James Pitblado, who finished his time with the Vikes by playing in the 100th game of his varsity career.
The Vikes were on their heels right from the very start of the contest and quickly found themselves trailing 14-0 to a Castaways squad that utilized an extremely strong pack throughout the game.
After the defence settled into the game and Prevost knocked through a penalty goal, Hager scored the first Vikes try of the afternoon by intercepting a loose Wanderers pass and sprinting free to the try line.
Castaway widened their advantage to 21-10 not long after, but the Vikes were able to end the second half on an absolute tear and tries from Prevost and Long sent the team from UVic into the half time break up 22-21.
The entire second half was a back and forth affair with the teams trading scores in what was an action-packed contest.
Trailing 38-32, some great Vikes passing ended with Matthews diving across the try line with just under five minutes left to play, but the attempted conversion from Prevost was pushed wide by the wind, giving Castaway the 38-37 lead late.
With time running out and the Vikes throwing everything they had into scoring the potential game-winning points, the Castaways were able to take advantage and score the points that would cement their victory right before the final whistle blew.
“You can’t give up six tries and expect to win in this league, especially in the playoffs,” said Tate. “Defensively we had some lapses but you have to give credit to Castaways, they scored some beautiful tries. Both teams tried to attack and played hard from start to finish.”
1st 2nd F
VIC: 22 15 37
CW: 21 24 45