Black Spruce shaken by Niagara Thunder in Super League rugby

After a tentative start by both sides, the Niagara Thunder led New Brunswick Black Spruce by 16-0 at half-time and racked up the tempo in the second half to finish 42-5 over the tiring but game visitors.

On a soft but dry surface at Crusader Park, both Rugby Canada Super League sides showed some handling errors throughout the game. Thunder had most of the possession in the first 25 minutes and the pressure yielded two penalties slotted by Thunder flyhalf Spencer Fullerton to lead 6-0. The Spruce bounced back and gained a penalty attempt that went wide.

Shortly after the restart, prop Steve Young led a charge from a lineout on the left at the 50m mark with Fullerton alertly picking up a loose ball, a neat inside break then with support from his centres, two quick passes and Dan West trotted over on the right wing to touch down under the posts. What should have been an easy conversion, however, hit the post, and the Thunder found themselves leading, 11-0. Thunder kept up the pressure and a 22m dropout by New Brunswick was blocked by Young with West recovering and scoring easily in the corner. The conversion went wide and the Thunder took a 16-0 margin into the second half.

The second half saw the Thunder backs using a combination of up-and-unders; individual runs from Andrew Thomson, David Jones, Jon Goldie, Graham Haigh, support and passing, being rewarded with two tries from fullback Goldie and one from Haigh. Spruce had two major multi-phase assaults inside the Thunder 22, switching between forward drives and some strong attacks by their strong-running centres.

The Thunder was rewarded with one try from #13 Jason Greeley, who failed to convert his own try. As the game wore on the Thunder scrum dominated and a wheeled scrum late in the game yielded a try for back-rower Andrew Lombard, making the final score 42-5.

Thunder coach Gary Whitley, while satisfied with the decisive win, said there was much room for improvement. This sentiment was echoed by team captain Jon Goldie.