EDMONTON – Overcoming adverse weather conditions, the Ontario Blues used a strong defensive performance to defeat host side Alberta Selects 19-9 in their rugby preseason clash at Edmonton’s Ellerslie Park Sunday afternoon (May 22).
Ontario’s lone Canadian Rugby Championship preseason match may have been played through steady rainfall and howling winds, but the senior men’s provincial rugby team held firm to ensure their hosts did not cross the try line at any point throughout the game.
The Blues led 7-6 at the break through a try from Dan Moor; the outside centre opened the match scoring when he dotted down at the 14-minute mark, though two first-half penalties from the boot of Alberta’s Gordon McRorie allowed the hosts to stay within striking distance of Ontario through 40 minutes.
Second-half scoring began with a pick-and-go try from Blues number eight Lucas Rumball, and while a third McRorie penalty reduced Ontario’s lead to 14-9 partway through the latter frame, speedy wing Kainoa Lloyd sealed Ontario’s victory with a try in the corner scored two minutes before the final whistle.
Scrum-half Andrew Ferguson connected on two conversion attempts for the Blues.
While 10 internationally capped players featured for the Blues Sunday, Ontario dressed a relatively young squad for their first match of 2016, with nine under-23 players taking part in the game.
Four players – Trenton Cooper, Brandon McLeod, Stoney Creek’s Mitch Richardson and John Sheridan – received their first starts for Ontario, while Armin Gurdic, McLeod and Richardson all made their senior team debuts.
“All of our young guys put in great performances, which a great testament to the depth of our program,” said Blues manager Mark Winokur. “They were doing the little things right, like when Brandon McLeod set up Dan Moor with a great pass for our first try of the game. They proved they’re ready to play at this level, and we’re upbeat after the win.”
The Blues senior side will now return home to kick off their CRC season against eastern Canadian rivals Atlantic Rock Saturday, June 11, with the tournament opener held at Sherwood Forest Park in Burlington, Ont.