On the same week that coach Dave Speirs went into the BC Hall of Fame with his 1991 Canadian World Cup Rugby teammates, the senior rugby team gave their own Hall of Fame performance in a 45-31 victory over Brentwood College. This win gave Collingwood its 8th BC AA rugby title.
In a championship game that featured 12 tries, the offensive firepower of both teams was on full display. Collingwood scored two minutes into the game when Cam Bruk crashed across the line after the Cavs had strung together multiple phases of play. When Duncan Bustos slashed his way through the BCS defence, the Cavs were off to a dream start.
BCS was shaken, but they roared back with two tries of their own and took a 12-10 lead. With momentum in their favour, the Cavs looked to be in trouble until Ethan Lucke stepped right in front of a pass and legged his way into the endzone. It was suddenly 17-12 for Collingwood.
This lead was short-lived as BCS took advantage of some shoddy defending, which allowed one of their speedy wingers to knife his way through the lackluster Collingwood defence. Down 19-17, Collingwood regrouped and Joey Ficocelli scored just before halftime and with the fifth lead change of the game, the Cavs went into halftime up 24-19.
The game swung completely in Collingwood's favour when Ethan picked off another wayward pass and streaked into the endzone again. Ethan's ability to read when and where to pounce on the unsuspecting opponents has now hit legendary proportions.
Collingwood was suddenly on the front foot and when Cam scored his second try of the game shortly thereafter, it appeared it was going to be Collingwood's day. Max Moyes then burst through the BCS defence on the ensuing kick-off and minutes later Linus Hartner smashed his way across and it appeared the rout was on as the Cavs led 45-19.
BCS was not done yet. They suddenly got their power game going again and began to rip holes in the Cavs' defence. With Collingwood now looking very tired, the BCS players broke tackles at will and scored two tries to make it to 45-31. Collingwood was suddenly on the ropes. However, it turned out to be too little too late for BCS and the final whistle brought together a jubilant band of players, parents, friends and coaches.
This was a true team effort. Collingwood went into the game with key players Tyler Preston, Graeme Neill-Klein and Thomas Simon all unable to play. Nate Holm and Tate Venier entered the game with injuries that were expected to limit their effectiveness. Despite all of this, the coaches were confident that the team's great depth would come through.
The 'finishers' were called into duty even earlier than expected. Tate injured his wrist and was forced out of the game. Nate was covering acres of space and tackling everyone in sight, but the strain was too much for his injured ankle so out he came as well. Into the fray went Linus Hartner and Thomas Foote. Both were outstanding. Joey Ficocelli was next in and his try right before halftime was a crucial moment in the game.
At halftime, Lucas Okano also was subbed in, but not in his usual scrumhalf role. The coaches opted to play him at openside flanker so that he could hunt and tackle with his usual ferocity. As hoped, he was relentless. The three fresh forwards undoubtedly contributed to Collingwood's 28-0 scoring spree that blew the game open.
As for the starters, there were brilliant performances all around. The front row of Jack Allen, Matt Frost and Max Moyes were absolute giants as they pounded holes in the BCS defence or crushed their runners. Cole Soprovich provided sharp service to Duncan Bustos who was a true maestro on the day as he ran the Collingwood offence with precision. Cam Bruk picked the perfect time to have his best day ever in a 1st XV jersey. He ran hard every time he touched the ball, but more importantly was a tackling machine who took BCS's big center right out of the game with a series of thumping tackles.
In the end, everyone on the field contributed to this epic performance. Bruce Qin, Karna Nilakantan, Joel Abdel-Barr and Sebastian Hutton were tackling/rucking machines throughout the game. Cole Young was never able to find the space that has made him one of the most lethal fullbacks in high school rugby this year, but he was always a threat when he touched the ball. Adam Lewis usually found himself in tight quarters when the ball came to him, but he ran hard and made sure the ball was always recycled, which helped to set up multiple tries. Alex Ferreira and Ollie Kodet also came on late to contribute to the win.
Coaches Speirs, Larisch and Murray were thrilled with the team's performance. For Coach Larisch, it is his 4th BC title overall. He won a AAA championship as a player with Carson Graham and two more titles when he was their Head Coach. For Coach Murray, it was his first taste of BC Gold and he was truly ecstatic with the win. For Coach Speirs, it was the perfect way to close out a fantastic week. The planning for next year's team is already underway.
2018 BC AA Champions
Collingwood's Gold Medal Grads - Back Row - L-R - Adam Lewis, Cam Bruk, Duncan Bustos, Matt Frost, Bruce Qin, Karna Nilakantan, Matin Talebpourazad, Derek Punter, Max Moyes,
Front Row - L-R - Eric Waterman, Jack Allen, Cole Young, Sean Assadi, Ethan Lucke, Cole Soprovich, Noah Wolverton
Duncan Bustos was in spectacular form as he mixed Collingwood's attack to perfection.
Cole Soprovich's accurate delivery set the Collingwood attack into high-speed action throughout the big win.
Nate Holm entered the game with a troubling ankle injury but he was still a defensive force despite being far from 100%.
READ MORE ABOUT COLLINGWOOD'S BIG WIN ON HOWARD TSUMURA'S GREAT BLOG: