A beautifully calm, warm (28ºC), Friday night in September. The Thirsty Thirds (Calgary Canucks 3rd XV) were hosting the Calgary Irish for the final game of the regular season at Calgary Rugby Park. Just enough smoke in the air to make the setting sun look nice on camera but without the spluttering and coughing effect for the players like a couple of weeks ago. Perfect for rugby.
The Canucks opened up the scoring with a try down the left wing by #14. In the very next play from the kickoff, winger #14 got the ball again and was making good progress down the touchline when a hard but fair Irish tackle stopped him in his tracks. He needed some attention from the athletic therapist but came back into the game after some recovery time. The Canucks got another try, again down the left wing just minutes later, scored by full-back #15.
Try number three for the Canucks came from the right winger, #11 scored after three good phases of possession by the Canucks pack. Another one was scored shortly after on the left wing by Kyle Marvin.
The Irish opened up their account when they swiftly delivered a line-out ball along the greenbacks into the hands of #13. Another Irish try followed soon after when fullback Corey Keim timed his run into the three-quarter line perfectly to score under the posts. As the referee whistled for halftime, and with both tries converted, there was emerging evidence of an Irish renaissance.
The Canucks forwards got onto the scoresheet again shortly after the break. From a penalty on the Irish 10m line, the Canucks kicked to touch, took possession of the line-out ball and #18 took the ball in a rolling maul over the line. The kick was unsuccessful.
The Irish clawed back again after a lovely breakout from defence by their full-back Corey Keim. That move progressed to a quick tap penalty 22 m out, then a nice couple of phases of Irish forward possession and a try under the posts that was converted, making it 27-21.
The Canucks #18 took the ball from a scrum 15m out and went over in a rolling maul, and with a successful conversion, the Canucks opened up the margin. But the Irish full-back was into things again. Keim picked up a loose ball on the ground from about 40 m out and ran in to score under the posts. Another good kick and the Emerald Island boys were right into the game with the score at 34-28.
In what was to be the last play of the game, Kyle Marvin saw the gap, clicked the heels of his red (and white) shoes and ran in like Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road. The ball rattled the posts but the conversion kick went in where it matters to make the final score 41-28.
The Canucks Thirsty Thirds are in the playoffs next week!
For more photos from the game, please visit J. Ashley Nixon Communications.