Streak snapped for wounded Lions
Rugby: Foothills drops first game in two months to Canucks
By: Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014 07:33 pm
Sixty-one days removed from their previous loss, the Foothills Lions saw their four-game winning streak snapped by a motivated opponent.
The Calgary Canucks avenged a narrow defeat in their previous meeting with a dominant defensive showing in handing the Lions a 22-9 loss on Thursday at John Paul II Collegiate.
“We just didn’t respond the way we needed to. We were pretty disjointed all around,” stated Lions club coach Jim Ryan. “We didn’t link up very well with our forwards and our backs. A lot of good individual stuff by guys, but no good team stuff going on.”
Entering play as the second-highest scoring squad in the eight-team second division, the Lions were completely kept out of the try-zone by a well-organized Calgary defence on a slippery pitch minutes after a brutal thunderstorm blew through town.
“First game in I don’t know if ever is the right word, but a really long time where we haven’t scored a try,” Ryan said. “The first-half was tough sledding. The conditions really aren’t conducive to the kind of rugby we want to play, we play pretty open, expansive. The ball was slick, the field was slick.
“We just didn’t get it done. The effort was there.”
Injuries might help explain the hosts’ lack of traction.
Workhorse forward Jordan Smith is out for the season with a broken-leg, club-captain Spencer Watkins missed the game with a knock. Tight-head prop Scott Freethy and the invaluable Blake Barnert were also sidelined with injuries.
They did enjoy the return of one of its stalwarts in the back ranks.
Foothills’ offence was limited to the boots of Dan Larson. Returning to the pitch for the first time in two months after being sidelined with a hand injury, the centre hit three free-kicks through the uprights to keep the Lions within striking distance.
“For me it was great, this is my summer. This is what I do, I’ve been going stir crazy sitting on the couch watching rugby,” Larson said. “It’s nice to be back. Glad I made some kicks, pity it ended that way.”
The victory was nearly three weeks in the making for the Canucks who might have felt hard done by in dropping a 24-19 result to the Lions on July 26.
“I’m disappointed. Watching from where we were on the sidelines last time (versus Canucks) it’s almost like we’re lacking intensity when we play these guys,” Larson said. “They’re more experienced. We have a lot of young guys in the forwards that don’t know how to cope with the dirty players.”
The Lions, tied for top-spot in the division with the Canucks, will look to get back in the win column on Aug. 23 in their final home date versus the Calgary Hornets.
Kick-off is 12 p.m. at John Paul II Collegiate.
“We’re just going to comeback and practice Tuesday and Thursday the way we always do and try and up the intensity,” Larson said. “Looking to playoffs we need to prove that we deserve to be there.”
Foothills wraps up its regular season on the road on Sept. 6 in Red Deer.