© —Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram
The Rock celebrates their 19-8 win over the Prairie Wolfpack Saturday.
Ciaran Hearn kicked 12 points as the hometown Rock wore down the Prairie Wolf Pack in the second half for a 19-8 win Saturday in a bruising Canadian Rugby Championship final.
The victory earned the Rock and coach Pat Parfrey the MacTier Cup as national champions.
The game was played in wet conditions at the Swilers Rugby Complex, making ball-handling difficult. That didn’t stop a string of jarring hits, however.
Scoreless at the half, Hearn put the Rock ahead 3-0 in the 48th minute on a penalty kick prompted by a scrum infraction. The home side — with the wind at their back — extended the lead in the 64th minute when Geoff Warden scored a try off a deft chip by fly half Dean Blanks, who added the subsequent conversion.
Wolf Pack fly half Stephen Woodward cut the deficit to 10-3 on a 66th-minute penalty into the wind. But Hearn added to the lead with penalty kicks in the 68th, 72nd and 80th minute.
Nick Blevins scored a consolation try in injury time as the Wolf Pack laid siege to the Rock goal-line, with Woodward missing the conversion.
The Rock played the first half against the wind and there were few scoring chances. When the home side tried the first shot at goal in the 26th minute, Blanks lost his footing on the penalty kick and the ball squibbed harmlessly away.
Blanks had a tough first half, crunched by winger Mozac Samson later in the half as he kicked the ball away from inside his 22.
The Wolf Pack launched several attacks, cutting though the Rock defence but failing to score due to handling mistakes or poor passes.
The Rock finished the season (3-0), defeating the Wolf Pack 27-23 on a late try Sept. 4 to ensure home-field advantage in the championship game. The Wolf Pack were 2-1 coming into the final.
The Rock made changes going into the final, introducing Jon Phelan in the second row, Rich O’Malley at scrum half and elevating Morgan Lovell from the bench to fullback. Hearn shifted to wing from fullback.
Former Canadian captain Morgan Williams started on the bench, but replaced O’Malley with five minutes let in the first half. He was yellow-carded in the dying seconds of the game.
The Wolf Pack were without lock Luke Cudmore, who has signed a contract to play professional rugby in France. He was replaced by Bruno Payette.
The other two teams on the Canadian Rugby Championship circuit are the B.C. Bears and Ontario Blues.