Thunder rattles Black Spruce to top Elite Rugby League

The Niagara Thunder, perhaps inspired by their name that matched the pre-game time weather conditions, remained undefeated in the Rugby Canada Super League after crushing the Black Spruce from New Brunswick, 47-10.

Thunder fullback Jonathan Goldie attracts the attention of two Black Spruce defenders. (Photo: John Guilfoyle)

Friday nights game at Mohawk Sports Park, played just after a thunderstorm left the grounds in soggy condition, gave the Niagara team of elite players its third win – against no losses – and first place in the league’s Eastern Conference. Defending champions Newfoundland Rock are second with a 2-0 record.

The Thunder are back in action Sunday (July 2) against the Nova Scotia Keltics. The 1 p.m. game will be played at Burlington’s Sherwood Forest Park.

Friday night, the Niagara forwards persevered from the opening kick and contributed three of the Thunder’s six tries in their 47-10 win over the Black Spruce.

Forwards Matt Lindsay (Brantford), Dave Knowles (Toronto), and Cam Mitchell (Brampton) had a strong first half for the Thunder. Early tries came from prop Lindsay and scrumhalf Blyth Gill (Oakville).

The Thunder found themselves facing several penalties and that allowed the Black Spruce’s Richard Borthwick to put three points on the board. Despite several back movements by Thunder it was only after 40 minutes that crisper passing put left wing David Jones (Stoney Creek) over in the corner.

On the restart, right wing James Woods (Oakville) took the ball from his 22 all the way back for another try before halftime. Spencer Fullerton (Oakville) was successful on three of the converts and the Thunder had a commanding 26-3 at the break.

But the Black Spruce didn’t travel all the way from New Brunswick to roll over and die. They started the second half with renewed enthusiasm that led to some Thunder errors. New Brunswick fly half Simon Pacey galloped 60 metres before being brought down but from the ensuing scrum Black Spruce scrumhalf Brent Rowney scored the try. Borthwick’s convert was unsuccessful.

Despite a determined defensive effort by the Black Spruce, the Thunder dominated possession for the remainder of the game with forwards Geoff Sinke (Stoney Creek) and Harry Cheung (Oakville) getting the final two tries.