Lions throttle overmatched Canucks
Rugby: Foothills scores 29 unanswered to extend winning ways
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 06:00 am
Two teams headed in opposite directions in the Calgary Rugby Union collided with predictable results.
The Foothills Division II Lions shrugged off a shaky opening frame to dismantle the struggling Calgary Canucks 46-19 with 29 unanswered points in the Calgary Rugby Union (CRU) tilt, Saturday at John Paul II Collegiate in Okotoks.
“In the second half we kind of shut our mouths and found our discipline again,” said Lion Jordan Smith, moments after another workmanlike effort from the tireless No. 8. “They had a big goose egg in that second half, we didn’t let them get anything.”
Calgary, mired in an extended losing streak, carried a surprising 19-17 lead into the break with Foothills three trys coming from Kris Locke, Jarrett Richardson and Dan Larson. However, defensive miscues from the latter two put Foothills behind the eight ball.
Lions head coach Jim Ryan called out three backs –Richardson, Larson and Nathan Marquardt – during the halftime speech and it seemed to rally the Lions towards a spirited second half.
“We played well in the first half, but just had some fundamental breakdowns in the midfield,” said Ryan. “I grabbed my three midfielders and said they’ve scored just because of you guys so you need to sort that out. I told them chain arms and no one gets through and that’s what happened.
“We were killing their scrum, our forwards did well so once we shut down midfield they really had nothing.”
Foothills didn’t waste any time to put its mark on the second half. On the kickoff, Lion Spencer Watkins sprung free and with one man to beat dished to Larson, who sauntered in untouched from the left wing.
Moments later, scrum-half Reid Watkins rushed forward and found a wide-open Richardson for his second score of the contest. Winger William Barrett completed Foothills’ third try in 10 minutes when he burst through two Canucks for a 35-yard scamper.
Club captain Marquardt replicated the run after the Lions won a scrum. Full-back Kevan Yeats put an exclamation point on the 27-point victory when he found a hole in the Canucks defence after a goal-line stand from the overmatched visitors.
Though the backs found their way to the try zone for seven of the nine Lions trys, it was the engine room providing the impetus for the offence.
“We had a solid platform and were even driving them back,” Ryan said. “It’s easy when you’re on the front-foot and then when they were on the back we were getting it back and countering.”
The coach credited Smith for leading the forwards in scrum situations from his second row position.
“We have a cadence because I can usually see when the ball comes in and I try to get the scrum moving,” Smith said. “I give a call and tell them to squeeze and they will all call a one-two, it’s just a sign for them to start stepping.
“It gets everybody moving forward and it’s really made our scrums strong.”
For the Canucks the result extended their losing skid to six games, their last win on June 8 now a distant memory for the 1-9 club. Foothills has now won three of its last four contests to improve to 4-5 – good enough for fifth in the CRU.
Taking into account the Division III Lions’ current two-game winning streak, both of Foothills’ men’s teams appear to be peaking at the right time.
Don’t expect the teams to scoreboard watch.
“I’m big on one game at the time, one week at a time, so I don’t even get these guys to look at the standings,” Ryan said. “We’re concentrating on every single practice and game learning something and getting better.
“We want to win today, but we’re building something for the future.”
The Division III Lions, sitting in fourth place with a 4-3 mark, return to the pitch on Friday Aug. 23 at 8 p.m. versus Bow Valley. In Division II action, the Lions host Lethbridge on Aug. 24 at 1 p.m. Both games are at the John Paul II Collegiate field.
For more information on the Lions visit foothillslionsrugbyclub.com