Resolute Rock earn right to host national under-20 final

John
John Browne
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Claim berth with well-deserved win over Niagara

As Junior Rock players raised their arms at the final whistle after upsetting Niagara Thunder 20-8 at Swilers Complex Saturday, the coach of Newfoundland's under-20 rugby team struggled to express exactly how it all felt.

"It was a magnificent win. What else can you say?" Simon Blanks finally managed to say with a smile.

Rich Jutronich of the Niagara Thunder attempts to tackle the Junior Rock's Dennis Maher during the Eastern Canadian under-20 rugby final at the Swilers rugby pitch Saturday afternoon. Looking on left are the Thunder's James Stanley and Mike Pezac, while m

As Junior Rock players raised their arms at the final whistle after upsetting Niagara Thunder 20-8 at Swilers Complex Saturday, the coach of Newfoundland's under-20 rugby team struggled to express exactly how it all felt.

"It was a magnificent win. What else can you say?" Simon Blanks finally managed to say with a smile.

The victory gives The Rock the right to host the national U20 championship July 31 against the Western champion, which will be decided later this week.

When Blanks was asked to pick a man of the match, he said "all 25 players on the roster, including the two kids who didn't play, were a credit to the province."

But when pressed to single out someone, Blanks selected flanker Neil Molloy, a grinder and a player who epitomized the workmanlike effort that produced Saturday's memorable victory for the Newfoundland side.

"He'd only playing abut 40 minutes a game and today he played 70 minutes of the best rugby of his life," said Blanks of Molloy.

"We're the proudest team in the province," said Molloy outside his team's noisy dressing room. "We came out and played with passion. We did it for ourselves, our family and for the province. We trained all year for games like this.

"For Newfoundland with our small population to go out and play like that - it's pretty unbelievable."

Kyle McGuirk, Zac Coughlan and Casey Cavers had the tries for The Rock. Patrick McNicholas kicked a penalty and slotted one conversion.

Despite the 12-point difference at the finish, this was a nail-biter of a match most of the way.

"We made some errors and the final scoreline doesn't truly reflect how close the game was," said Blanks.

"We've got to deal with catching the bloody kickoff or we'll be in real trouble in our next game."

Newfoundland led 5-3 after the first half of a match fought mostly around mid-field.

Niagara missed an opportunity to take the lead 10 minutes into the second half when it couldn't make a penalty kick. About 10 minutes later, McNicholas made his penalty opportunity for an 8-3 lead. The teams then exchanged tries in a matter of minutes before The Rock put it away with a final try near the conclusion of the game.

In the end, it was a bunch of big hits and a few key offensive plays that brought the Ontario representatives to their knees in the match played on a warm, but windy Saturday afternoon.

"We've been working hard on defence and we've managed to keep our structure throughout the game. The credit goes to the youngsters," said Blanks.

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Ontario

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  • Joshua
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Sickkk game boys, you did well! and way to go little brother on getting the MVP. YOU DA MAN!