TREASURE ISLAND, CA - Northern California's U18s got a late, game-winning and series-winning try from Marshall Godfrey to beat the British Columbia U17s 19-17, and win the BC NorCal Challenge Cup two games to one.
After the teams had split their first two games, one in Vancouver, BC and one in Victoria, BC, Friday's match was for the series. BC led 17-12 with two minutes to go. That's when NorCal's Mark Qoro cut through the BC defense and then offloaded to Godfrey, who barrelled over for the game-winning score.
2012 TrueBlue BC NorCal Challenge Cup Results:
June 19 (Vancouver, BC): BC 36-34 NorCal
June 21 (Victoria, BC): BC 39-46 NorCal
July 27 (San Francisco, CA): NorCal 19-17
NorCal's Mark Qoro opened the scoring on Friday evening and with a conversion by Aidan Flynn put the home side up 7-0 early on.
BC responded with a pair of tries, the first from Captain and no. 8 Marshall Fuller. The second score saw speedster James Oswald dash down the sidelines before diving in for the try. At the half, BC were up 10-7.
In the second half NorCal's Josh Short finished off several phases of powerful forward play before going over to make it 12-10. Aidan Flynn provided the extras and NorCal were up 14-10.
Although undersized against the U18 Norther California side, BC matched up in physicality holding their opponents and causing NorCal to commit numerous handling errors. After forcing their way into NorCal's 22, BC were grinding their way into the far corner when Fuller off-loaded to prop Christian Nonni who crashed through to make it 17-12. Joey Campbell hit a difficult conversion from the touch line to see BC lead 17-12.
With the clock wearing out, NorCal were gaining their momentum smashing the BC defensive line. Eventually NorCal's Qoro found a gap and accelerated to the open field and set up Godfrey for the game winning score to take the match 19-17.
"It was an exciting game all around," said BC coach Shane Thompson. "Our guys dug their heels in and didn't back down against a much larger opposition."
For BC Provincial Coach and Development Manager Dave Brown, the opportunity to play against the NorCal program has allowed players in the BC Rugby Academy to test themselves against quality opposition.
"We have exposed a large number of our Under-17s to a higher level of competition and that can only benefit the players and a program in the long run," Brown said. "We can take a lot from their performances this summer and build upon it next year."
On Sunday, July 29th, the BC U17s will then travel to Dixon to compete in a youth invitational seven-a-side competition. Dixon is home to the U19 US high school national champions Dixon Rugby Club, a region where rugby is rapidly expanding.