Rock wont play for a third national title; Thunder rolls on after 34-20 win

Brendan McCarthy
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There will be no three-peat for the Rock.

Newfoundlands Rugby Canada Super League (RCSL) entry and two-time defending national champion, lost 34-20 to the Niagara Thunder in Burlington, Ont., Saturday in the game that decided the RCSL East Division crown.

The result leaves Niagara with a perfect 6-0 regular-season record, earning the team its first appearance in a national final Niagara travels to Regina to take on the West Division champion Saskatchewan Prairie Fire Aug. 18 for the championship.

The Rock finishes at 5-1 after suffering its first loss in 20 league games, a stretch that included championship wins in 2005 and 2006

(The Thunder) deservedly won, said Rock coach Pat Parfrey after the game. That was the best game played by (a Rock) opponent since the Super League started.

However, the Rock did leave some tries on the field and still could have won this game.

Dean Blanks had a try, penalty and two converts for the Rock, which trailed 27-20 with 15 minutes remaining in the contest. But the Thunder put the game away in the late going by blocking a clearance kick and scoring the games final try.

The news wasnt all bad for Newfoundland rugby Saturday.

In an under-20 match in Burlington, the Junior Rock prevailed in extra time to win 31-19 over the the Niagara Lightning and will take on Fraser Valley, B.C., in Regina for the first-ever national junior title in a game played before the RCSL championship.

It was a fine display of heart and passion, Junior Rock coach Simon Blanks said of his teams performance, which included two tries by Evan Buckley, one of which came in extra time.

The other extra-time try came from team captain Mike Holloway, who was the man of the match and an exemplary leader from start to finish, according to his coach.

Organizations: RCSL East Division, Newfoundlands Rugby Canada Super League, West Division

Geographic location: Burlington, Regina, Newfoundland Fraser Valley

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