The Ontario Blues closed out their 2016 season with a 12-10 victory over touring Irish club Cork Constitution on Monday evening at Twin Elm Park in Ottawa. The win caps a good year for the Blues that saw them regain the MacTier Cup, earning their fifth Canadian Rugby Championship title in six years during the regular season.
A number of handling errors and slowed the game in the opening quarter. Ontario conceded penalties in their own end to compound matters but each time Cork opted for the corner rather than the points. After strong defense to hold the visitors out, the Blues cleared their lines and worked their way into Cork territory. Multiple phases brought them to the goal line and Andrew Ferguson made it the rest of the way, converting his own try to make it a seven point lead, a score that would hold until the break.
Cork at last opted for the sticks shortly after the rest period, with Tomás Quinlan doing the honors to put the Irish club on the board. Their purple patch continued when a turnover left Ontario unawares and Rob Jermyn went clean through the line, the winger swatting off would-be tacklers and showing a clean pair of heels to the rest for a fine individual score. Quinlan was on target with the conversion and Cork nosed ahead by three.
The Blues moved quickly to respond, moving into scoring position but stymied by a resilient Cork defense. Eventually the attack yielded a yellow card for cynical offenses. Despite being down a man the white jerseys did not break, and when a second yellow was brandished they still held strong.
The first yellow card returned to restore the side to 14, but at last the ball found Josh Campbell in space and the wing made the corner for a match winning try. Quinlan had an opportunity to steal the win on a penalty shot just before full-time but the ball curled right of the uprights and Ontario had their victory.
Tries – A. Ferguson (32), J. Campbell (68)
Cons – A. Ferguson (33)
Tries – R. Jermyn (51)
Cons – T. Quinlan (52)
Pens – T. Quinlan (46)
1 Rob Brouwer 2 Brendan Black 3 Ryan Surgenor 4 Hank McQueen (capt.) 5 Mike Sheppard 6 Marcello Wainwright 7 Peter Milazzo 8 Lucas Rumball 9 Andrew Ferguson 10 Mitch Richardson 11 Josh Campbell 12 Derek Daypuck 13 Jon West 14 Justin Tota 15 Will Kelly
Reserves: 16 John Shaw 17 Tyler Doran 18 Pat Lynott 19 Gabriel Brocardi 20 Jason Hubbell 21 Jesse Lofthouse 22 Ibrahim Bouiahadi 23 Cathal Quinn
1 Greg Roche 2 Jack McHenry 3 Ger Sweeney 4 Darragh Moloney 5 Conor Kindregan 6 Cian Barry 7 Sonny Dwyer 8 Evan Mintern 9 Jason Higgins 10 Tomás Quinlan 11 Rob Jermyn 12 Niall Kenneally (capt.) 13 J.J. O’Neill 14 Sean Gray 15 Liam O’Connell
Reserves: Liam O’Connor, Daniel Coughlan, David Fitzgerald, James Murphy, Robbie Walsh, Alex Ryan, Michael Clune, Michael Keyes, Billy Pope, Gavin Duffy
with files from Mark Ward and Rugby Ontario