By John Browne
The Newfoundland Rock wasted ball possession numerous times, but still had enough to beat Nova Scotia Keltics 13-8 to win the Atlantic Provincial Senior Rugby League championship Saturday at Swilers Complex.
There’s still one game to play, but it’s insignificant.
New Brunswick is scheduled to take on The Rock July 5 in St. John’s, but the Black Spruce are winless in three games and have no shot at the title. The Newfoundland team has won all of its first three games, including a 26-8 victory over New Brunswick a week ago to go along with two wins over Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia’s Colin Alexander opened the scoring at three minutes, but Rock fullback Morgan Lovell got that one back seven minutes later and Patrick McNicholas slotted the conversion for a 7-5 lead at the half.
Dan Briggs gave the Keltics an 8-7 lead a couple of minutes into the second half on a penalty kick, but McNicholas answered with two penalties for the final score. The usually reliable McNicholas also missed three penalties, one from a long distance.
Lovell looked to have his second try late in the game, but it was called back when a Rock player drew a “professional” or deliberate foul for stomping.
“Some parts were very disappointing from our perspective,” said Rock veteran Owen Parfrey.
“We certainly should have put up a lot more points. It’s something we have to work on for the CRC (Canadian Rugby Championship) league.
“We got the win, but we’ll expect more out of ourselves in the future,” said Parfrey.
The Rock dominated play throughout the match but turnovers, including poor kicking decisions, allowed the visitors to stick around right to the end of the game.
You could perhaps excuse the mediocre performance because it’s early in the season, but Parfrey wouldn’t buy that.
“That’s an easy excuse and it’s not acceptable for what we want to be able to do,” he said.
“We should be better. We need to be better.”
This is the first season for the league, which features home-and-home games amongst the Atlantic provincial squads.
The league was set up to give provincial players a chance to be selected to play for the Atlantic Rock CRC team, and also to give players the chance to represent their province.
Meanwhile, in local senior B league matches played Saturday at Swilers pitch, Baymen defeated Dogs 26-21 and Swilers blanked the Vandals 35-0.