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ONTARIO BLUES FALL TO ATLANTIC ROCK IN 2016 CANADIAN RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP OPENER

By: Brock Smith; Photo Credit: José Romelo Lagman
4 June, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(BURLINGTON, ON) – The Ontario Blues dropped their opening match of the 2016 Canadian Rugby Championship presented by Johnsonville, falling 22-12 to eastern Canadian rivals Atlantic Rock at Burlington’s Sherwood Forest Park.

Ontario’s senior men’s provincial rugby team were stymied by a stingy Atlantic Rock side that held firm defensively, putting the Blues in a position to fall victim to their own errors.
The Rock were the first team on the scoresheet, with wing Patrick McNicholas slotting a 25-metre penalty just four minutes into the match. The visitors added to their lead mid-way through the half, when McNicholas raced 70 metres to score a try after intercepting an errant Ontario pass.
Substitute fullback Mark Denton gave the hosts a late-half lifeline, scoring a try on his Blues debut to swing the momentum back in Ontario’s favour.
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The Blues raced out of the interval as the hungrier of the two sides, and despite lengthy spells of possession inside the Rock’s half, they couldn’t find a breakthrough. Against the pace of play, the Rock earned their second interception-turned-try at the 54-minute mark, with flanker Toni Wodzicki plucking a Ontario pass and trotting 20 metres to cross the whitewash.
Ontario responded just minutes later through veteran prop Rob Brouwer, who crashed over to cut the Rock’s lead to five, though the visitors had an immediate response of their own when young flyhalf Aidan McMullan scampered 60 metres to touch down.
A late push by the Blues brought the hosts close to scoring, but the Rock did well to shore up defensively in the final stages of the match to seal the 22-12 win, ending a nine-game winless run against Ontario that dated back to 2011.
“All credit to the Rock. They were very physical today, they really disputed our ball, and we couldn’t get in our flow. They took full advantage of their opportunities, and when we made mistakes, they capitalized,” said Blues head coach Chris Silverthorn, following the match. “Our execution in the red zone wasn’t good enough, but we’ll go back to the drawing board, regroup, and go from there.”
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Brandon Black, Brendan Blaikie, and Dillon Goos made their first starts for the Blues in the CRC opener, while five players – Denton, Hayden Ryan, Chad Strapp, Marcello Wainwright, and Jeremy Wright – all earned their first senior Blues caps. Ontario’s matchday squad had an average age of 22.6 years.
“With all the young kids coming through our system, we had a very young side today that will take a lot away from this match,” added Silvethorn. “It was a good opportunity for our young guys, and it will only get better from here.”
Veteran lock Hank McQueen captained the Blues for the first time in his seven-year senior provincial career, becoming just the fifth captain in Blues history; McQueen joins Alistair Clark, Derek Daypuck, Dan Pletch, and Mike Pletch to hold the honour.
“The Rock did a very good job capitalizing on our small mistakes today, but we’ll learn from our errors, and get better and stronger as a group,” said McQueen. “I’m honoured and humbled to have captained the Blues today, and getting the win would have made it that much sweeter, but now our focus is on what’s ahead.”
With the arrival of a brief break in CRC play, Ontario’s focus now shifts to their international friendly with England Counties on Saturday, June 11. The touring England Counties is the flagship team of the Community Game in England, and features players from National League One and below.
The Blues will host England Counties at Fletcher’s Fields (Markham, Ont.), marking the third and final stop on the visiting side’s Canadian tour; Counties opened their tour with a 41-0 victory over the British Columbia Bears in Vancouver on June 3, and will meet with the Prairie Wolf Pack in Calgary on June 7. Saturday’s fixture represents the first meeting between the two teams since England Counties earned a narrow 32-26 win over the Blues in 2010.
Ontario Blues Score Report
Tries: R. Brouwer (59), M. Denton (30)
Conversions: J. Sheridan (31)
Atlantic Rock Score Report
Tries: P. McNicholas (24), A. McMullan (66), T. Wodzicki (54)
Conversions: P. McNicholas 2 (25, 55)
Penalties: P. McNicholas (4)
Ontario Blues Squad vs. Atlantic Rock – Name (Club)
1. Brendan Blaikie (Markham Irish)
2. Brandon Black (Markham Irish)
3. Rob Brouwer (Lindsay)
4. Hank McQueen, Captain (Balmy Beach)
5. Dillon Goos (London St. George’s)
6. Mike Sheppard (Brampton Beavers)
7. Peter Milazzo (Toronto Saracens)
8. Andrew Wilson (Crusaders)
9. Josh Campbell (London St. George’s)
10. Mitch Richardson (Stoney Creek)
11. Rich Lebel (Waterloo County)
12. Dan West (Crusaders)
13. John Sheridan (Markham Irish)
14. Brandon McLeod (Guelph Redcoats)
15. Matt Alexander (Oshawa Vikings)
16. Chris Gladney (Oshawa Vikings)
17. Armin Gurdic (London St. George’s)
18. Dylan Parson (Oshawa Vikings)
19. Jeremy Wright (Lindsay)
20. Marcello Wainwright (Toronto Saracens)
21. Chad Strapp (Stoney Creek)
22. Hayden Ryan (Lindsay)
23. Mark Denton (Aurora Barbarians)
Ontario Blues Staff
Chris Silverthorn – Head Coach
Paul Connelly – Assistant Coach
Mark Winokur – Manager
Rodin Lozada – Performance Analyst
Chris Kelly – Athletic Therapist
Dr. Chris Gallimore – Team Doctor
Ontario Blues 2016 Match Schedule:
Alberta Selects 9 v. Ontario Blues 19
Sunday, May 22, 2016*
1 p.m. MDT; 3 p.m. EDT
Ellerslie Park, Edmonton, Alta.
Ontario Blues 12 v. Atlantic Rock 22
Saturday, June 4, 2016
5 p.m. EDT

Sherwood Forest Park, Burlington, Ont.

Ontario Blues v. England Counties
Saturday, June 11, 2016*
3:30 p.m. EDT
Fletcher’s Fields, Markham, Ont.

Atlantic Rock v. Ontario Blues
Saturday, July 2, 2016
3 p.m. NDT; 1:30 p.m. EDT
Swilers RFC, St. John’s, N.L.

Ontario Blues v. Prairie Wolf Pack
Thursday, July 21, 2016
6:30 p.m. EDT
Fletcher’s Fields, Markham, Ont.
Ontario Blues v. British Columbia Bears
Sunday, July 24, 2016
3:30 p.m. EDT
Fletcher’s Fields, Markham, Ont.
* indicates non-CRC match
About Rugby Ontario:

Rugby Ontario is the provincial sports governing body responsible for the organization of rugby in Ontario. Our mission is to promote, govern, and develop rugby at all levels in a safe, affordable and enjoyable environment within the province of Ontario.
There are more than 10,000 Rugby Ontario members registered with 63 rugby clubs and four branch unions located across the province, with participation in age grades ranging from minor (age 6+) to masters (age 35+) in male and female divisions.
For more information, visit http://www.rugbyontario.com/
About Ontario Blues:
The Ontario Blues program is the high performance representative program for male rugby players in Ontario. It is designed to develop and showcase male athletes for Canadian national teams.

The senior team represents Ontario in the annual Canadian Rugby Championship, and has earned four national titles, having won the competition’s MacTier Cup annually from 2011-2014.

The under-19 team represents Ontario at the annual under-19 men’s Canadian Rugby Championship, and is designed to develop and showcase male athletes for the under-20 national team, as well as serving as a feeder program for the Ontario Blues senior team.

For more information, please contact: 
Brock Smith
Communications Coordinator
Rugby Ontario
(647) 560-4790 x106
bsmith@rugbyontario.com
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