On a miserable wet, chilly and windy Saturday, your Burlington Centaurs Sr. Men’s squad hosted its 4th annual Monty Heald Tournament of Champions. It was said many times throughout the day, Monty wouldn’t have had it any other way, and it was a great day for rugby.
The preseason tournament has become the premier preseason tournament in Ontario. Hosting 4 Marshall Premier teams and a Province side, the Quebec Selects. The Marshall teams included the back-to-back McCormick cup champs, Brantford Harlquins, alongside the Toronto Scottish, Balmy Beach and the Stoney Creek Camels. There was also interested in “seconds” division, where we were able to field an additional team up against local and rival clubs, The Grimsby Gentlemen and The Hamilton Hornets.
The host side kicked off the tournament against our skyway neighbours, the Stoney Creek Camels. Though the Camels side was slim missing their Ontario Arrows players and young University talent, they were still up for a game and looking to seek some vengeance against some former club players. With great ball retention and straight up tackles by Louis Hineslwood and Colin McLeod. The Centaurs were able to free up some space for their electric back three made up of Jordan Tanner, Matt Woodley & Brendan Gilbert proving why they’re known as finishers by combining for all 4 Centaur tries of the game. The great team effort opened up the space for all 3 men to hit it at pace. Consistent kicking by Brendan Bryan & Juan Palacio locked up the Centaurs first win of the tournament over the Camels 24-0. Though it was nice to see our Offence was clicking, Captain Jeff Brownson was more impressed with the Defensive effort shutting out the competition.
The Centaurs second match-up was against the 2015 McCormick Cups Champs, Balmy Beach. ‘The Beach’ are a stalwart club in the Marshall premiership and have a tendency to by a high-flying, highly skilled side. Shortly after kickoff the Centaurs knew they were in for a tough game. The Beach pressure was relentless, and the Centaurs rarely had any ball possession. Though our Centaurs Defence was stout the Beach managed to finish two entertaining tries which led the Tournament hosts to be down 12-0 at half. The Centaurs were not deterred and came out firing on all cylinders to start the second half. With two quick tries by Kale Hutchings and M. Woodley to open the second half. The Centaurs closed the gap and tied the game at 12-12. With time ticking away, the Centaurs did not take their foot of the pedal. After multiple phases, McLeod made a line break creating a two on one with the Beach full back 10 meters out. With great skill, he gave a supporting Tim Morton a textboook off-load in the tackle, letting the big man rumble and scoring under the posts. 19-12 Centaurs. They completed the comeback and were able to run out the remaining 2 minutes on the clock to finish the round robin with a perfect 2-0 record.
The Burlington Senior Women had a showcase match vs mid day. The playing conditions offered soft ground following rain which allowed confidence for all to tackle and ruck hard in preparation for the forthcoming league games. Within the Centaurs team, there were two new players, Emma (Red) Mallon and Rebecca (Becca) Ayliffe who both performed outstandingly for their first match and along with them some guest appearances from previous team members now living in the USA or other parts of Canada, (Rebecca T, Kylie and Kim H). Although the team has not had long to play together, during the match they gel’d to dominate both halves of the game.and after the first half, were 22 v 7 in the lead. Within the second half, the defence held to add an additional 21 points for none against.
The Centaurs were spoilt with a great turnout of players and which ensured each player had half a match. With tries from, Julia, Taylor, Kylie, Amber, Cassidy and Emily G, plus conversions from Amber, Emily G and Taylor, the Women’s team were eventual victors by 43 v 7. Even though there are always areas to improve, it was both encouraging and exciting to watch the team run drills they have been practicing over the past couple of weeks. The next step is to ensure momentum and build on the foundations from Saturday as the Women’s first league match is away to Hamilton on Saturday 12th May.
With the day winding down and the weather conditions taking its toll. The Centaurs Men matched up against an athletic Quebec Selects side in the finals. The rain had briefly dissipated which drew excitement for both teams, anticipating the ball would be thrown around much more frequently. Though the Centaurs were confident their offence would continue its success; once again, Captain Jeff Brownson could not have been more satisfied with his squad’s defensive efforts. By creating multiple phases the Centaurs were able to executive their attack plan. The pattern proved effective as first half tries were scored by Tanner, Mcleod and M. Woodley. The second half opened with the same success for the Centaurs. A couple goal line tests were passed and the Centaurs defense remained unconquerable. The final whistle blew and the Centaurs retained the Championship 26-0 over the Selects.
Overall, it was a great day remembering a Burlington and Canadian Rugby legend capped off with the hosts winning their own tournament. The win gives the Centaurs some additional hardware going into the 2018 Campaign, after winning the Battle of the Border 7’s tournament earlier this month. Head Coach Chris Kelly remains positive, but preaches that his men need to keep up the hard work and commitment. The Centaurs have one more week of preseason but are in tough on May 12 as they travel down the 401 for their season opener against the London St. George’s.