Facing visiting Prairie team in crucial match Saturday
By John Browne
It’s only their second game on the Canadian Rugby Championship (CRC) schedule, but The Rock’s Saturday match against the visiting Prairie Wolf Pack will be a crucial one for the St. John’s-based team.
The Rock were defeated last weekend 27-25 by the defending champion Ontario Blues in their first of five CRC games this season. But despite the loss, Rock head coach Simon Blanks was pleased with the effort.
“The team played better than last year in both attack and defence,” said Blanks.
“Unfortunately, the team’s lack of experience showed in the second half of the game.”
Injuries, he noted, were also problem, with Dean Blanks, Patrick McNicholas and Justin Meyers having to withdraw. However, Blanks noted The Rock got stellar performances from young players Alex Rogers, Patrick Parfrey and Bob Rogers.
The Wolf Pack, who split a pair of games with The Rock last season, defeated the British Columbia Bears 30-20 in Langford, B.C., last weekend. The visitors’ top players include No. 8 Clay Panga, flanker Kyle Gilmore, scrum half Adam McRory and wing Duncan Maguire.
The Rock have selection concerns with Kyle Baillie, Mike Hamson, Matt Heaton and Mike Haycock all unavailable from last week’s squad and injury problems with Brad Lester, Justin Meyers and Patrick McNicholas, though Lester and Myers are both listed to play Saturday.
Second-row and wing reserve spots have been left vacant until Friday.
The Rock squad listed for Saturday includes Frank Walsh, Owen Parfrey, Bob Rogers, Brad Lester, Justin Meyers, Toni Wodzicki, Kevin Parfrey, Zac Coughlan, Mike Simpson, Patrick Parfrey, Robert Wilson, Bryce Thomassin, Geoff Warden, Alex Rogers, Dean Blanks, Jordan Power, Steve Cutliffe, Grant Crowell, Adam Paul and Jason Picco.
The Rock, which won two out of five games last season, take on the Wolf Pack again Aug. 30 in Calgary and the Bears Sept. 2 in Lanford before finishing the season at home to the Blues Sept. 21.