Rock solid in historic victory

John
John Browne
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Newfoundland pack punishes Calgary Mavericks for team's third national crown

There may have been some doubt about which Canadian rugby team had the best forward pack in the country prior to the 2008 Ruby Canada Super League (RCSL) final.

There's no debate now.

Newfoundland Rock, propelled by a highly skilled, tough-as-nails scrimmaging machine, ran roughshod over the Calgary Mavericks to the tune of 30-6 Saturday to capture the team's third Canadian rugby championship at Swilers Complex.

Newfoundland Rock's swarming defence brings down a Calgary Mavericks player during the RCSL final at the Swilers Complex Satuday. - Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

There may have been some doubt about which Canadian rugby team had the best forward pack in the country prior to the 2008 Ruby Canada Super League (RCSL) final.

There's no debate now.

Newfoundland Rock, propelled by a highly skilled, tough-as-nails scrimmaging machine, ran roughshod over the Calgary Mavericks to the tune of 30-6 Saturday to capture the team's third Canadian rugby championship at Swilers Complex.

"Our forwards played great," said appreciative 20-year-old Rock winger Grant Moffatt. "They (Calgary) said they were going to challenge us in the scrums and they weren't even close."

The rookie, who said he was nervous at the start of the game, turned his first touch into the game's opening try when he put the ball down from a sideline run. The score gave a team already full of confidence that much more assurance.

"I was so nervous... I'm really happy about it," Moffatt added.

Asked if The Rock's forwards' performance on the day finally settled any question over which Canadian team had the most dominate forwards, veteran hooker Peter Densmore, the Rock's captain, simply said: "We'd like to think so."

Densmore said it is hard to say, at this point, if he'll be back for another season.

"There's a lot of emotion on the day. I've been with this team a long time now. As of right now I have no idea what I'm doing and a lot of guys are in the same boat. I'm just going to enjoy the day and think about it over the winter."

Second-row forward Chris Mooney also scored one try for the Rock, who posted a 5-0 record in the eastern conference this season. The winners, who led 13-3 at halftime, were awarded another try because of Maverick interference, while fly-half Dean Blanks, on the top of his game, kicked three penalties and three converts for half of the Rock's scoring.

Fly-half Christian Wullf kicked two penalties for the Mavericks' points.

Brick wall defense

Calgary came out with some spark to start the second half. A few Rock mistakes kept the visitors with ball possession for several minutes and the Mavericks were able to kick a penalty to get to within seven points of the Newfoundland squad, but in the end, they couldn't penetrate the Rock's solid defence for a major.

Mooney said he didn't realize his team kept Calgary without a try until he looked up at the scoreboard after the game was over.

"We take pride in putting up that brick wall," he said.

"I'd heard they (Calgary) were very fit and they had pace out wide, but once I saw the rain - a typical Newfoundland day - I knew it was going to be a forwards' game and I don't see us losing that type of battle," Mooney added.

"The plan was not to concede any points early in the second half. We gave up three points (on a penalty kick), but we didn't panic. We have lots of experience and we know how to maintain our composure," said Mooney, one of he Rock's most consistent players in the team's history.

Rock coach Pat Parfrey was generous in his praise of each of his players on the day.

"We overpowered them up front and played very competently in the back line on a difficulty day. We just played really well," The Rock mentor said.

"Their (Calgary) strengths," explained Parfrey, "were negated. We won the scrums and we outplayed their backs. It was only in midfield where they managed to cause trouble. They had two clean breaks (one in each half), but we recover. Our players, to a man, were outstanding.'

Dynamic Welsh fullback Morgan Lovell, who Parfrey said had an outstanding kicking game, booted his team out of potential trouble on several occasions and also provided The Rock with good field position with his accurate kicks to the sideline.

"It's a wicked feeling," Lovell said before heading to the dressing room. "I'm just happy for the boys, really. It means a lot to everyone here including Pat (Parfrey) and Simon (Blanks)," added Lovell, referring to the team's coaches.

"We played tactics better than them," Lovell said.

"They tried to run the ball a little and it wasn't the kind of weather for that. We kept them pinned in their half of the field and our forwards dominated in the lineouts and scrums."

"We took our foot off the gas for a little bit early in the second half. But it was really important, and showed the character of the boys, to hit back and stop them from getting too close to us. Our defence was excellent and dominated the game."

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Ruby Canada Super League

Geographic location: Calgary, Newfoundland

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