BC Bears remain unbeaten in ARC

(IRB.COM) Monday 21 September 2009

 BC Bears remain unbeaten in ARC
The Bears made it two wins from two by overcoming The Rock - Photo: Jose Romelo Lagman

British Columbia's Bears remain the only unbeaten side in the Americas Rugby Championship following a weekend of two matches between the four Canadian provinces which were decided by a single point.

In the battle between the two sides who had won their opening matches, the BC Bears edged a tight battle with The Rock 8-7 in wet conditions at Swilers Rugby Park, while the Prairie Wolf Pack won on the road 14-13 over the Ontario Blues.

Nathan Hirayama kicked the only points of the first half for the Bears, but The Rock - representing the Atlantic region of Canada - began to build some momentum after the break and international centre Ciaran Hearn crossed for the try.

Dean Blanks added the conversion to give The Rock an 7-3 advantage, but the visitors had the final say with Harry Jones, Canada Under 20s captain at the IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Championship in June, scoring their only try.

The conversion was missed, but the Bears were able to hold on for victory to give them nine points from two games, three more than The Rock with the Prairie Wolf Pack moving off the bottom following their defeat of the Blues.

The Blues had startly brightly in front of their home crowd at Fletcher's Field in Markham, but the Wolf Pack defence held firm and they gradually began to make headway and threaten at the other end of the field.

Realising the goals of ARC

Stephen Woodward capitalised on mistakes by the Blues to kick three penalties, but it was the hosts who went in leading 10-9 at half time after Josh Green squirmed his way over the line for the first try of the match in the 35th minute.

The Wolf Pack came out strongly after the break and were rewarded when wing Ryan Smith side-stepped the defence and found Jeremy Kyne, the flanker powering through to touch down.

The visitors missed the conversion attempt, but despite the Blues piling the pressure on they were unable to find a way through the determine Wolf Pack defence with Steve Piatek's penalty all they could add to their first half tally.

"It was a one point game and we happened to make one more mistake than they did," admitted Blues coach Les Gilson. "We made enough mistakes as a team but they took advantage of their opportunities that we should never have given them as a team.

There was, though, some positives Gilson could take from the defeat with the new Americas Rugby Championship realising its aims by bridging the gap between domestic and international rugby.

"The Championship is doing exactly what it's intended for. Our average age is 24, and the last two games we've played has showed a lot of growth from the younger players as they come out and play at this level - both from a rugby standpoint and a physical standpoint. They have the chance to realise what it takes to go up into the international standings."

The round robin stages conclude on Saturday when the Blues host The Rock at Fletcher's Field and the Bears host the Prairie Wolf Pack at the Brockton Oval. The top two sides will then meet in the semi finals on 10 October, with the Argentina Jaguars and USA Selects meeting in the other.

Match schedule

7 September - Atlantic (The Rock) 31-23 Prairies (Wolf Pack)
12 September - Ontario (Blues) 24-29 BC (Bears)
19 September - BC (Bears) 8-7 Atlantic (The Rock)
19 September - Prairies (Wolf Pack) 14-13 Ontario (Blues)
26 September - Prairies (Wolf Pack) v BC (Bears)
26 September - Atlantic (The Rock) v Ontario (Blues)

Semi finals
10 October - Canada 2 v Canada 1
10 October - Argentina Jaguars v USA Selects

17 October - Loser SF1 v Loser SF2
17 October - Winner SF1 v Winner SF2

For more information visit www.americasrugbychampionship.com.