Things are shaping up well for the boys of Windsor Park.
The Castaway-Wanderers are off to a strong start, winning their second game of the CDI Premier League rugby season on Saturday (Feb. 5), 29-12 over Burnaby Lake.
It’s the second of two quality teams to fall at the hands of CW so far, counting the club’s 5-0 road win over Capilano on Jan. 29.
Burnaby Lake enjoyed a resurgence of its own during the autumn mainland season, putting them back into the top half of premier league teams.
Defeating Burnbay has CW looking good to qualify for the second half of the CDI schedule, when the top eight teams of the current 12-team qualification round battle for the Rounsfell Cup. The bottom four will join the new Tier II, Okanagan Spring Brewery League.
Improved player fitness is making a difference for CW, said winger Harold Williams, who is back with CW after years away from the game.
“You saw it (Saturday) in the second half. We just kept banging and banging, finally (Burnaby Lake) just didn’t want to bang anymore and we broke through with some nice runs.”
Committing to his career as a firefighter led Williams away from rugby halfway through the last decade. The former national sevens player and Rounsfell Cup winner is now a member of the Victoria Fire Department. Always fit, Williams has exceeded his role as the team’s fitness coach, earning his first cap in years against Burnaby Lake.
Williams is not the only returnee from CW’s glory years as provincial champions 2000-2002. International player Jeremy Cordle (St. Michaels University School) is also back with CW, though a strained calf limited his first appearance back.
The big story from the score sheet on Saturday was premier substitute Jonny Morris.
Morris, just 21, pounced over Burnaby’s goal line for two tries in the second half. CW led 8-0 when Morris entered the game at centre back.
“It was nerve wracking coming in. You don’t want to make a mistake,” he said. A waterboy with the team when he was seven years old, Morris made the most of his latest appearance at the premier level.
Following a superb line break from Matt Buckley inside Burnaby’s 22, Morris took the pass and ran in for his first try. With less than 10 minutes remaining, CW’s Mark MacSween was inside the 22 and chipped the ball ahead into the goal area. Morris outraced a Burnaby player to jump on the Buckley chip for his second try.
“Sometimes being a great athlete isn’t the same as being around the game. Morris showed his understanding, having been around rugby since he was a kid,” CW coach Lee Lindwall said.
Buckley, a veteran of CW’s new generation and part of the B.C. Bears team that defeated Russia, excelled at the fly half position with international player Ander Monro out due to injury.
CW scrum inflation
Frank Walsh out of Newfoundland solidifies the front row of CW’s scrum at looshead prop (No. 1), with CW’s Evan Mallory at hooker (No. 2) and Scott Franklin at tighthead prop (No. 3).
Walsh’s arrival bolsters the front row which is without Hubert Buydens. Buydens, along with CW internationals Jebb Sinclair and Chauncey O’Toole, will miss the winter season playing with the Canadian development team in Wales. CW will also miss national forward Nanyak Dala who is out for the season with a knee injury.
Still, Lindwall says the replacements give CW a strong scrum and not a depleted one.
Depth in the second row comes with Mark MacSween from Ontario. MacSween was a menace at the six spot against Burnaby, though he picked up a yellow card. He can also play the eight spot in support of CW captain Kenny Goodland.