McCormick Cup Round 2 Recap

The Burlington Centaurs (10) history making season persisted as they travelled to ‘The Square’ in a McCormick Cup Quarter Final against the Toronto Scottish (2). The Toronto Scottish were coming off a week one bye. The Scottish had another stellar season in the Premiership, sporting an 8-2-0 record, losing only to the Markham Irish and the Brantford Harlequins. A true David vs. Goliath matchup, the Centaurs were making the trip playing with house-money as they had the only upset of Round One.

As kick-off loomed, it felt as though the sun was at its
hottest. With clear skies and a slight breeze, the referee blew his whistle and
the Quarter finals were underway. The game initiated with a ferocious tempo and
it was the Scottish who looked untidy early on. The Centaurs defensive line
speed wreaked havoc for the home side as a clearance kick gave the Centaurs
early ball possession. The Centaurs pack took control initially, led by the
revolting and dynamic back-row, D. Wilson, A. Wilson & Hogg. Multiple
phases building pass the gain line had the Scottish defense clambering. As the
visitors inched closer to the try line, newly position prop Colin Mcleod would
not be denied as he muscled his way over two defenders touching the ball down
for the first points of the game. A miss conversion kept the game at 5-0 and
the underdogs had drawn first blood.

Though somewhat rattled, the Scottish kept their composure
and started to apply some pressure on the Centaurs. The Centaurs defense
continued to cause chaos up the middle of the field; yet, the Scottish were
able to move the ball wide and with some timely offloads they scored in the
corner, the game was tied 5-5. Un-phased the Centaurs upped their work rate
which was wearing down the Scottish pack. Credit to the Centaur pack as their
scrums and Lineouts wore down the large Scottish front 8. As the game unbolted,
spark-plug halfback Zack Shurtleff identified a mismatch as he stepped a
Scottish front rower, which produced a line break. Backing himself he was able
to outpace the opposing 15, touching down in the corner, 10-5 Centaurs after
the first 40 mins.

The Half-time talk was concise – Keep the energy up, maintain
possession, sustain the defensive line speed. With all the pressure on the #2
ranked side they came out hot to start the second half. Hard attacking lines
and ball possession awarded them with a penalty under the posts. The kick was
good, and the gap was reduced, 10-8 Centaurs. As the game went on tactical subs
and attrition came into play. Fresh off the bench, Tim Morton executed an out
the back pass towards the Bryan brothers who were able to spring dangerous
winger Matt Woodley. Woodley known as a finisher, completed the score with a
great step and spiteful fend off, 15-8 visitors. Although, there was a good
portion of the half left, the current score overwhelmed the home side as
frustration stepped it resulting in an increased penalty tally. One of the
penalties was in B. Bryan’s range as he made it a 2-score game with a
successful conversion, 18-8. Centaurs

As time wound down, both teams dug further into bench looking
for energy. The Scottish play then turned sporadic and the Centaurs stout
defense closed all gaps. Punishing tackles at the breakdown and in the centre
of the field kept the home side on their back foot. A costly turnover gave
Burlington possession and fate was in their own hands. After consecutive slow
balls the referee gave Shurtleff the nod and the ball was punted into the
sidelines. David had slayed Goliath, final score 18-8 Burlington Centaurs.

A very proud moment for some travelling alumi as well as some longtime Centaurs who have never experienced such a bitter sweet victory and birth into the Semifinals. It truly was 23-man club effort for the Centaurs who laid their bodies on the line against one of the top teams in the province. Big thanks to everyone who made the effort to travel down. With the triumph, the Centaurs continue their road to the cup as the playoff bracket has them returning to Markham to face the Irish. With only 4 teams left a win will reward the Centaurs a McCormick cup final birth.