In what will go down as one of the most exciting games in Boot Game history, Oak Bay roared back from a large deficit to score four second-half tries to defeat SMUS 26-22.
On a beautiful spring evening at UVic’s Wallace Field, SMUS, playing with speed and width, cashed in first when Graeme Hyde-Lay dotted down after a sweeping team attack up the left wing. The fly half then contributed some pinpoint tactical kicking, which led directly to three more scores, with Myles Duncan, Matty McColl and Aidan McCleary doing the honours.
McCleary, back after a long rehabilitation from ACL surgery and well supported by back row partner Josh Graffi, was the dominant figure on the field in his 30 minutes of playing time, as the Blue Jags moved smoothly through the gears to lead 22-0 at intermission.
However, the game’s momentum tilted dramatically in the second half. SMUS conceded a fatally soft try within the first 60 seconds, and Oak Bay, comprehensively outplayed before the break, took heart. For the next 30 minutes the Barbs controlled possession and territory. The rewards came in the form of further tries, in the 47th, 58th and 65th minutes. With three conversions, Oak Bay, in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd, took the lead.
SMUS had one final chance to snatch the win. Max Pollen, Josh Kahn and Lucas De Vries combined well up the right wing to bring play into the Oak Bay 22. Multiple phases saw the Blue Jags edge close to the try line, but when a last pass went astray a Barbs’ clearing kick brought the final whistle.
Hopefully, SMUS can take away many important lessons from the defeat. Certainly, the team looks forward to its May 2 rematch versus Oak Bay during Alumni Weekend.