The New Marshall Provincial League championship format held a new twist and the Centaurs now had to battle through a semi-final and final in order to claim promotion and the trophy. Travelling down the 401 to meet Waterloo County. The two teams split the season series against one another and the rubber match forced all the chips across the table. No doubt, It would take a massive effort from the Centaurs to stick County with the silver medal.
It was Waterloo with the first score after a quick counter attack and some weak kick coverage defence from the Centaurs. The momentum continue for the home side as another score put them up 14-0 early. To add to Burlington’s woes, flanker Dave Wilson exited early with a hamstring injury.
Fortunately, a Burlington score was soon to follow off a hard, tight line by Nate Bryan, rolling over a defender and across the try line. His brother then got involved striking a penalty kick closing the gap, 14-10 Waterloo. The momentum seem to be slightly changing to the road warriors and the score remained the same heading into the half.
The teams exchanged penalty kicks in the second half but the next big impact on the game came from a Burlington lineout and driving maul which County struggled to defend all afternoon. Andrew Wilson pulled the ball (and his calf muscle) out and limped down the sideline to finish off a forward dominated try. With a missed conversion, the Centaurs took a 1 point lead.
The crowd was buzzing as the Centaurs continued to push deep into Waterloo territory, several phases of attack earned the visitors a team penalty on the home side’s 22 metre line. The conversion was successful giving the visitors a 4 point lead with 4 minutes remaining.
With the clock working against County, Burlington did have the game in their gasps; yet, the home side were not going down without a final push. After recovering their own kickoff, a mistake tackle down the middle of the field allowed County to cross the line for a third time and this time directly under the posts, 24-21.
With 2 and half minutes to go, one might have thought the game was over. However, let me tell you the fans go their monies worth on the day. The Centaurs managed to gain entry in their oppositions half, again, hard work by the Captain lead to another team penalty. With less than 1 minute to play, B. Bryan hit another penalty kick to tie the game 24-24.The full time whistle blew and after a short meeting at centre field it was decided: the game would go to sudden death overtime.
The first points of any kind, even a kick, would win the game. Several minutes into the overtime period and it looked like a kick would indeed seal the deal, and it was B. Bryan again lining up the posts from a very tough angle and distance. The angle was proper but the distance was short and after an extra 10 minutes of rugby, the score remained unchanged.
The Second and final 10 minute overtime period began with the teams switching sides and a Waterloo restart. Kickoffs which seems to haunt the Centaurs all season remained a problem today. A knock allowed Waterloo a chance at a scrum, the scrum resulted in a penalty against the Centaurs and the Waterloo 15, who seem to not miss on the day lined up for a tough penalty. Unfortunately he made no mistake and with plenty of real estate the kick was good. 27-24 Waterloo.
Although it was not the result the Centaurs had worked for – there was a lot to be proud of this season. In particular their depth really showed this game that lasted 95 minutes and had several key players go out with injury. Next up– Burlington men hope to have a strong showing in their first McCormick cup appearance in a decade. Mark September 8, 15, 22, 29 in your calendars. Given their seeding, the Centaurs will be on the road throughout the tournament- win and move on, lose and the 2018 season will be fade into the past.