Special to the Record
An old rugby adage exhorts: “Get there the fastest with the mostest and good things will happen.” The Comox Valley Kickers certainly did that on Saturday when they defeated the Powell River Otago, 43-10 in Pulp Town to earn a berth in the Vancouver Island men’s rugby playoffs.
Following a slow start the visiting Kickers clicked into high gear, proving themselves to be fitter, more committed and more aggressive at the breakdown, and using their speedier and craftier backs to better effect than the home side. In the end the Kickers ran in seven tries and kicked four conversions for a convincing victory that leaves them in second place with five wins and two losses in the Spring League.
The club will play league-leading Velox-Valhallians (7-0) in Victoria for the Island Div. 3 title. At press time the playoff schedule was uncertain; check the Kicker website at www.kickersrugby.ca for updates.
The Kickers stood back in the early going Saturday, allowing Powell River to use their heavy forwards to muscle their way over for the game’s first try with Mark Bradley touching down. Slowly the Kickers shrugged off the ferry voyage and began to play the kind of rugby they are capable of, cleaning out the rucks and mauls and providing quick ball for their fleet-footed backs.
At 15 minutes centre Brandon Huddleston fielded a deft chip kick by fellow centre Eli Cummins and romped into the in-goal unmolested. He converted his own try to put the visitors up 7-5. Speedster Ross McLean, playing fullback, claimed the next when his blistering pace took him past all tacklers. Huddleston’s convert upped the lead to 14-5.
The tries kept coming with Huddleston adding another, McLean his second and lock Shayne Stuchbery, who played his usual rugged game, claiming two more. Cummins danced over for one late in the second-half and Powell River scored a consolation try through Kevin Cote to leave the final score 43-10.
While this was a well-rounded, team display with everyone unselfishly contributing to the overall win, standouts included Tony Forth with another solid performance winning line-out and enjoying some rampaging runs; #8 Andrew Hextall consistently arriving first at the breakdown where he snaffled some fine turn-over ball; and Jesse Ramsay at hooker, who punched well above his weight in the heavy going against much bigger opponents.
Following the win and after a frothy beverage, the two teams combined their Over 30 year-old players to engage in a less competitive game against the combined Under-30 year-olds players of both clubs – just for the love of the game. No score was recorded but afterwards everyone repaired to the de-consecrated church across the street in Cranberry, which serves as the Otago RFC clubhouse, for food and drinks, further enhancing the wonderful camaraderie that exists between these two rugby clubs and proving once more to those who participate in it why rugby is “the greatest game in the world.”
SIDELINES The annual Kickers’ awards banquet is slated for May 14 at the Fallen Alders Hall with legendary Canadian international prop forward Gary Dukelow as guest speaker … the Kickers invite all interested in playing rugby to attend training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the club’s Fallen Alders facility on the Royston/Cumberland Road … the club gratefully acknowledges its sponsors The Butcher’s Block, Central Rentals, Continual Palingenesis-Social Media Solutions, Investors Group, The LeFevre Property Group, Mount Washington Alpine Resort, Wedler Engineering, Pilon Tools and Yummies & Gyros without whose support rugby would not continue to flourish in the Comox Valley