The Golden Horseshoe’s Rugby Canada Super League (RCSL) team, the Niagara Thunder, had little difficulty in obtaining a decisive 43-5 victory over visiting fourth place Quebec Caribou at the Niagara Wasps rugby grounds in Port Colborne on Saturday (June 30).
Thunder now moves into first place in the East with 14 points, although Newfoundland’s Rock with 10 points has a game in hand.
Playing with a strong wind behind them in the first half, Thunder kept the play inside the Caribou territory, but it was 20 minutes before a good lineout take by Geoff Sinke provided centre Brian Pearman a chance to break the line, offload to Dave Wilson who popped the ball to Alistair Clarke to score under the posts, making Spence Fullerton’s convert a formality.
Five minutes later, inside Caribou’s 22, Wilson intercepted and trotted over for another five points, to which Fullerton added two. The next score was again only five minutes later, when Shawn Windsor made a break from inside the Thunder half, raced down the right wing to the 25 only to have the ball bounced favourably on the dry turf for supporting wing Andrew Thomson to score in the corner. The play continued in the Caribou territory and with tons of possession, fullback Jonathan Goldie’s entry into the line at pace from 15 metres out was unstoppable. Fullerton added another conversion to close the half at 29-0 for the Thunder.
The Caribou started the second half well and pressured the Thunder into yielding several penalties for offside. Despite kickable situations, the Caribou elected several times to go for driving mauls from the lineouts, but Thunder’s defence held.
After a poorly executed drop-out by Caribou, Harry Cheung recovered the ball and slipped it to Wilson who ran it in easily. Fullerton converted and the score was a commanding 36-0.
Unfortunately for the Caribou, the earlier strong wind dropped completely. However, more penalties against the Thunder allowed the visitors to keep a lot of play in opposition half, but they could not cross the line.
The Thunder made some personnel changes and after stealing a Caribou lineout ball only 15 meters from the Thunder line, replacement centre Mike Sholz broke tackles and passed to Windsor who took it the rest of the way over the Caribou goal-line but could not ground the ball. From the resultant scrum, #8 Dave Knowles crashed over and once again Fullerton had an easy convert for a comfortable 43-0. The Thunder made a few more personnel changes.
The Caribou came back, again relying on their fairly effective lineout play and this time were finally rewarded with a try from yet another driving maul.
Thunder coach Jeff Prince was “not happy with the number of penalties conceded” but pleased at the defence in the second half. The team has a week off before resuming preparations for the July 14 encounter against Toronto Xtreme at Mohawk Sports Park in Hamilton.
Thunder is made up of elite players selected from clubs in the Golden Horseshoe area.