For the first time in a long time, the Centaurs found themselves in a McCormick cup game. The cup seeding had the Burlington Men (10) make the long journey up Highway 7 into the Kawaratha’s to take on the Peterborough Pagans. (7)
Peterborough and Burlington are the classification of contrasting storylines going into the McCormick Cup Playoffs. The Peterborough Pagans have found themselves relegated to the Marshall Championship for the 2019 season, after only one year in the Premiership (2-8-0 record). The Burlington Centaurs – on the other hand – were able to dominate in their first year in the Marshall Championship, going undefeated for a good portion of the season and they ultimately finished with an 8-2-0 record. The Centaurs narrowly missed out on promotion after a tough overtime loss to Waterloo in the Ontario League Playoff Championship Final. Though the narratives differ, everyone knows cup rugby brings out surreal enactments and it’s a gamble for vengeance.
The Centaurs got off to a great start, rolling through phases enroute to the opening score of the match from skipper Jeff Brownson after some innovative backline play down the far touch line. A second and a third try followed to put the Centaurs comfortably ahead. However, the Pagans would respond with a kick-off retrieval and some patient possession, working the ball over the line for 7 points and making their own statement in the contest. The Centaurs scored again, some more attractive play from the Wilson’s and scrum half Zach Shurtleff giving the Pagans defense trouble – and despite a last minute threat on their goal-line at the end of the half, the under dogs huddled on the sidelines ahead at half time– but the lead was anything but comfortable.
The half-time chat – it’s going to take another 40 minutes of hard work – all gas and no brakes. The home team took advantage of some second half substitutions, rolling in subs early and often, and played a structured and very physical game. A couple of rest weeks may have caused fatigue for the road warriors. During the opening stages of the second half, it was all Pagans. Some unanswered tries by the home team proved a pesky opponent, answering back in kind to keep the game within reach. Fatefully, kick-offs which have been an issue all season for the Centaurs sealed the deal. A great catch and run by Brian Woodley ignited at 75 Metre try finished off by Ken Warring in the corner. Though the home team added another score before the final whistle, they could not close the gap, 48-36 Burlington Centaurs. The high scoring, shootout provided an exhilarating substance for the home fans and a few of the Centaur Travelers.
It was a really great club effort for the Centaurs who dug deep into the trenches to pull out a long road win. Big thanks to everyone who made the exertion to travel down, including the run-on’s who helped fill the bench and our supports. With the victory, the Centaurs draw a tough quarter final match up against the second best team in the province, the Toronto Scottish. Again, the Centaurs will travel into enemy territory at Fletchers field this Saturday, Kickoff 3pm. The road to the cup continues and the men will remain the underdogs throughout the playoffs as they were the only upset in the first round.