Blues Play Their Part
As expected in the history maker match in Toronto, we saw the Wolfpack open on Canadian soil with a victory.
A young Blues side full of enthusiasm, spirit and intent played their part in the occasion with a gutsy never say give in performance.
Toronto opened the scoring early with standoff Blake Wallace and as the half hour approached they’d taken a 34 – 0 lead with tries through Andrew Dixon, Jonny Pownall, two for Richard Whiting and Ryan Brierley along with Craig Hall conversions. What this doesn’t show was how well Oxford scrambled and in defence and held off numerous other tries over the line.
The resilient spirit grew when Canterbury scored following a clever grubber kick at the Wolfpack line and Canterbury’s reactions were sharp to gather and score to give Harvey Burnett a comfortable conversion. Jordan Gill later crossed the white wash after neat approach work but a superb Whiting tackle dislodged the ball as Gill was about to touchdown. The interval came following another Dixon try as he caught cleanly and raced to the line from a goal line drop out to send the teams in at 40 – 6.
The second half came and the Wolfpack were sensing an onslaught but in actual fact the second half scoring tally was 18 – 6 in their favour which shows how quickly Rumford’s young lads regrouped and rallied.
Shortly after the start the Wolfpack’s ill discipline emerged as Liam Kay got a yellow card and 10 minutes for punching. This didn’t prevent them adding another 8 points through Hall and Greg Worthington and then the Super League quality shone through as Sean Penkywicz and Ryan Brierley combined to cut open the middle for the best try of the day.
Oxford grit stood tall, no towel was being thrown in and their combative nature may well have added to the Wolfpack frustration as infringements occurred in the closing quarter of the game. Former St Helens and Castleford prop Jake Emmitt was sin binned but he failed to leave the field of play following the referee’s decision and proceeded to walk back and strike Blues young centre Harvey Burnett. This ignited a full on confrontation with both teams, pure ice hockey style! Emmitt’s yellow was changed to red as he high fived the crowd. The red card stayed out for Toronto’s Wallace and Oxford’s Callum Windley.
Oxford regained their composure and started to play rugby league again, gaining good territory which allowed Canterbury to cross for his and Oxford’s second try as he brushed past Whiting. The referee hadn’t finished playing with his cards and the yellow was out again for Penkywicz this time.
Harvey Burnett converts Oxford’s 2nd try
The game closed with a Ryan Burrough’s touchdown to end a day to be remembered, it’s certainly one the young Blues will not forget easily and one they can talk about with pride.
Stepping back from the match, the day saw two teams who are dealing with the same ambition. Both want to spread the game of rugby league but in reality they are doing it in different ways. Ways which are poles apart. The Wolfpack are loaded with game breaking talent with Craig Hall, Ryan Brierley, Richard Whiting, Penkywicz to name but a few. Toronto is a team assembled to push the barriers in a new country while Oxford in its approach to the expansion challenge are at the other end of the scale. A team discovering players in trials, academies, word of mouth and the amateur game, to grow the game. Time will tell if it’s harder to grow the game in North America or the South of England.
Make sure to catch the Blues at home this Sunday (14th May) vs Hunslet