The Centaurs returned home after their bye week and were anxious to get back on the pitch. With all 4 sides playing on home soil, there was a whirlwind of excitement for a full day of rugby. Saturday kicked off with the Berties hosting their crosstown rivals, the Grimsby Gentlemen. The Sr. Women then faced-off against the Stoney Creek Camels and to finish, the Marshall Championship transported the Ajax Wanderers down the 401 for the final two games of the day. With the sun shining, a slight breeze and some cold beer in the gardens our local rugby enthusiasts were out in full force and were not disappointed.
The Centaurs Women played in a close match and sadly came up short against a youthful and what seemed never ending pool of players. The Centaurs continue to improve as scores show when compared to previous seasons and with moments of intensity and individual brilliance, they are demonstrating that they can both defend and attack. For many it is their first season or one case, Imani’s first match. Whilst for others, it is their first game in a few years. Common throughout though is the camaraderie and desire to improve both as a team and individually.
Some missing players necessitated changes in positions which upset the balance of the squad but nevertheless, the Centaurs managed a bonus point with tries deriving from ‘Gazelle’ like runs by Amber and Claire and darting bolts within 5 meters from Ali and Laiken. Two conversions from Killeen added to provide the 24 points. One of the sadder aspects to the match was again the toll in injuries for which we hope for speedy recoveries ready for the next couple of matches, both against Hamilton.
With some lineup tweaks and availability changes, the 2ndXV took the pitch looking thirsty for their first win of the season. The game started off well for the Centaurs as they were able to retain ball and develop continuous phases. The back row of Ellis, Rose & Dundas provided a tidy platform for young Brotman to spin the ball out. Though Howes and Hannon were exceptional directing traffic offensively. Unfortunately some poor line speed and defensive errors opened up gaps for the Wanderers who took advantage of their opportunities.
The Centaurs heads were still high after retreating to Coach at half. Though Ajax carried a lead into half and the Centaurs had failed to get on the score board. The second 40 minutes provided some positivity which created line breaks and space. Unfortunately, the story didn’t change much from the first half as the Centaurs continued to struggle to finish as they advanced towards the visitors goal line. Credit to the Wanderers who played an expansive game and took benefit of many of their scoring opportunities. Zach Dundas was able to get the Centaurs on the board; tactlessly, it was the only score of the day and the Centaurs fell to Ajax 47-7. The lads will have their chance at redemption as they’re back in action next week vs. Oshawa. Training this week is paramount, we need to turn the ship!
As it reached 1530 hours on the day. The Centaurs 1XV flew out of the tunnel for some redemption against the Wanderers. Dawning their Orange Kit, this was a battle between the top two teams in their respectful divisions. A quick penalty let Ajax draw first blood in the opening 5 mins. Albeit, they were not able to repeat this for most of the match as the field began to tilt in favour of the home side. The game quickly opened up for the Centaurs as some brilliant handling and pattern work put the Wanderers under immense pressure- the Centaurs notably scoring the first try of the game spreading the ball wide to winger Jordan Tanner who sidestepped the Ajax defense, offloading to fullback Brenden Gilbert who gingerly broke several tackles then passing the ball to flank Dave Wilson who scampered to the finish. Multiple long developing team tries came in bunches as the Centaurs were up early and were able to close the first 40 minutes with an exaggerated gap, 38-3.
As the side huddled around Coach Kelly, there was a lot to be happy about; however, defensively we needed to be better at the breakdown. After the quick chat, it was all gas and no brake for the Centaurs in the second half. With many Centaurs getting in the action and across the try line this was the ultimate team effort as all 23-men contributed to the track meet. Though the Centaurs defense was a topic, they continued to go all-in on defense limiting the Wanderers possession and points. The Wanderers were able to add a couple scores late, but on the day it was all Orange – a 9 try performance solidified a 59-17 win over Ajax. There were several strong performances on the day, but 8-man Andrew Wilson washed down a pint for well-deserved man of the match honours. The win brings the Centaurs to a faultless 5-0 record at the mid-point of the 2018 Campaign and top spot in the Championship division. With London on their heels as the men return to action on the road next week against a tough Oshawa Vikings side.