CALGARY – The BC Bears won the MacTier Cup for the first time since 2009, as they beat the Ontario Blues 30-29 in a thrilling Canadian Rugby Championship (CRC) final Saturday at Calgary Rugby Park.
After the Bears Mike Nieuwenhuysen scored a 73rd-minute try to put the Bears ahead 30-24, the Blues came roaring right back, with Peter Milazzo scoring with just a few minutes remaining to put the game on the boot of Andrew Ferguson.
However, a conversion attempt from just inside the sideline sailed wide.
After going five years without a win against the Blues, the BC contingent earned back-to-back victories over Ontario to cap this year’s CRC campaign. BC finished the CRC with a 4-0 record, including wins over the Prairie Wolf Pack and Atlantic Rock. On Wednesday, the Bears edged the Blues 34-31.
Nieuwenhuysen finished with two tries for the Bears, while Karsten Leitner added one. Flyhalf Giuseppe Du Toit put up 15 points, including three penalties and three conversions.
Blues scrumhalf Ferguson finished the game with two tries and two conversions, while Josh Campbell, Rory McDonell and Milazzo also found the try line.
After trailing by as many as nine points, 19-10, early in the second half, the Bears put up 13 straight points to take a four-point lead and set up a back-and-forth final 20 minutes.
Nieuwenhuysen got the offence rolling for BC in the first half when he scored in the sixth minute and, with Du Toit converting, the Bears held an early seven-point lead. However, the Blues responded with back-to-back converted tires, first from Campbell and then McDonell to go ahead 14-7.
A 24th-minute penalty from Du Toit rounded out the first-half scoring with BC trailing the Blues 14-10.
Early in the second half, Ferguson put the Blues ahead by nine when he scored his first try of the evening and seemingly gave Ontario key piece of momentum.
But on the strength of the boot of Du Toit, the Bears forced their way back into the match. After the Du Toit had missed penalty attempts just prior to and just after the half, he slotted consecutive penalties from well out to put the Bears within three points, 19-16.
With BC clawing momentum back, Leitner took advantageous of a fortuitous bounce and ran in untouched to put the Bears ahead. A kick forward from Du Toit took a friendly hop into Leitner’s hands and the Blues were caught with their feet in the mud.
The pendulum swung back Ontario’s way when Ferguson punched in his second try of the half, but inside the final 10 minutes Nieuwenhuysen scored and Du Toit converted what would prove to be the winning points.
A well-timed grubber from Ferguson sent Milazzo in for his try in the 75th minute.
The Blues had entered the contest looking for their sixth CRC title in the last seven years. Since, a run of four consecutive titles for the Ontario outfit, there have been three different CRC champions, including the Prairie Wolf Pack (2015), the Blues (2016) and now the Bears (2017).
BC Scoring: Tries: Nieuwenhuysen (2), Leitner (1) Conversions: Du Toit (3) Penalties: Du Toit (3)
Scoring Summary: First Half BC – Try – Mike Nieuwenhuysen – 5’ BC – Conversion – Giuseppe DuToit – 6’ ON – Try – Josh Campbell – 10’ ON – Conversion – Andrew Ferguson – 10’ ON – Try – Rory McDonell – 18’ ON – Conversion – Andrew Ferguson – 19’ BC – Penalty – Giuseppe DuToit – 23’ Second Half ON – Try – Andrew Ferguson – 43’ BC – Penalty – Giuseppe DuToit – 49’ BC – Penalty – Giuseppe DuToit – 53’ BC – Try – Karsten Leitner – 56’ BC – Conversion – Giuseppe DuToit – 57’ ON – Try – Andrew Ferguson – 64’ BC – Try – Mike Nieuwenhuysen – 73’ BC – Conversion – Giuseppe Du Toit – 74’ ON – Try – Peter Milazzo – 75’
Ontario Blues 1. Rob Brouwer, Lindsay RFC (Captain) 2. Eric Howard, Brantford Harlequins 3. Tom Dolezel, London St. Georges 4. Hank McQueen, Balmy Beach RFC 5. Mike Sheppard, Stoney Creek Camels 6. Marcello Wainwright, Toronto Saracens 7. Peter Milazzo, Toronto Saracens 8. Lucas Rumball, Balmy Beach 9. Andrew Ferguson, Crusaders 10. Shawn Windsor, Stoney Creek Camels 11. Kainoa Lloyd, Mississauga Blues 12. Mitch Richardson, Stoney Creek Camels 13. Josh Campbell, London St. Georges 13. Andrew Coe, Markham Irish 14. Dan Moor, Balmy Beach 15. Rory McDonell, Brantford Harlequins 16. Andrew Wilson, Crusaders 17. Pat Lynott, Bytown Blues 18. Andrew Quattrin, Aurora Barbarians 19. Paul Ciulini, Aurora Barbarians 20. Seb Pearson, London St. Georges 21. Mario Van Der Westhuizen, Guelph Redcoats 22. Kyle Lagasca, Toronto Saracens 23. John Sheridan, Markham Irish
Staff Chris Silverthorn - Head Coach Cory Hector - Assistant Coach Mark Winokur - Team Manager Chris Kelly - Athletic Therapist Rodin Lozada - Video Analyst Dr. Chris Gallimore - Team Doctor
BC Bears 1. Anthony Luca - Pitt Meadows, BC, Burnaby Lake RFC (captain) 2. Andrew Lackner - Pitt Meadows, BC, Burnaby Lake RFC 3. Noah Barker - Victoria, BC, James Bay AA 4. Craig McLaughlin, Burnaby Lake RFC 5. Connor Weyell - Vancouver, BC, UBC Thunderbirds RFC 6. Travis Larsen, James Bay AA 7. Kevin Leask, UVIC Vikes RFC 8. Dustin Dubrovsky - Victoria, BC, Castaway Wanderers RFC 9. Phil Mack - Victoria, BC, James Bay AA 10. Giuseppe DuToit - Victoria, BC, UVIC Vikes RFC 11. Karsten Leitner - Vancouver, BC, UBC Thunderbirds RFC 12. Mike Nieuwenhuysen - Victoria, BC, James Bay AA 13. Doug Fraser - Victoria, BC, Castaway Wanderers RFC 14. Kimi Vunituraga, Burnaby Lake RFC 15. Harjun Gill - Vancouver, BC, UBCOB Ravens RFC 16. Paul Ahn - Vancouver, BC, UBC Thunderbirds RFC 17. Blake Van Heningen - Victoria, BC, James Bay AA 18. Neil Courtney - Vancouver, BC, UBC Thunderbirds RFC 19. Cam Polson - Victoria, BC, Castaway Wanderers RFC 20. Jordan Reid-Harvey - Vancouver, BC, Capilano RFC 21. Riley DiNardo, Castaway Wanderers RFC 22. Gavin Rowell - Abbotsford, BC, UVIC Vikes RFC 23. Reid Watkins, Foothills Lions RFC
Staff Tony Healy - Head Coach Phil Mack - Assistant Coach Des Lynch - Manager/Mental Skills Coach
Canadian Rugby Championship Schedule July 14 – BC Bears 43 Prairie Wolf Pack 0 July 22 – Ontario Blues 24 Atlantic Rock 17 August 13 – Ontario Blues 45 Prairie Wolf Pack 22 August 13 – BC Bears 20 Atlantic Rock 13 August 16 – BC Bears 34 Ontario Blues 31 August 16 – Atlantic Rock 33 Prairie Wolf Pack 29 August 19 – 3rd Place Match – Prairie Wolf Pack 41 Atlantic Rock 19 August 19 – Championship Game – BC Bears 30 Ontario Blues 29
Canadian Rugby Championship – Champions 2017 – BC Bears 2016 - Ontario Blues 2015 - Prairie Wolf Pack 2014 - Ontario Blues 2013 - Ontario Blues 2012 - Ontario Blues 2011 - Ontario Blues 2010 - Atlantic Rock 2009 - BC Bears