The BC Bears Senior Men’s XVs Team gave a spirited performance against a strong Toronto Arrows Senior Academy side at the 2023 Coast to Coast Cup, narrowly losing out 32-27 in Halifax.
No. 8 Zephyr Melnyk (Pacific Pride) stole the show at the Wanderer Grounds with a hat-trick of tries for BC as the Bears were denied victory by a strong second half showing and some resolute defending at the death.
The Bears started the match strongly as Melnyk crossed for his opening try within five minutes, before quick work from the No. 8 at the maul saw him score a second try to move the BC into a 10-0 lead.
The Arrows reduced the deficit to seven points with a well-taken Thibault Trape penalty before Melnyk completed his hat-trick on 35 minutes with more great work from the maul. The Arrows hit back through an AJ Kosempel try but the Bears held a 17-10 lead at the break.
Kosempel scored his second of the match seven minutes after the restart to move the Arrows within two points, before the Ontario side inched into the lead thanks to a Doyle try and Neville conversion shortly before the hour mark. Tiarnan Neville added a 45-metre penalty before Kosempel offloaded to Laurendeau for the Arrows’ fourth try of the match to further extend their lead.
However, the Bears rallied following a yellow card to the Arrows in the 69th minute and Johnny Franklin (Capilano RFC) offloaded for Theo Espagnol (Meraloma RFC) to cross over. Michael Moloney (Capilano RFC) converted and then scored a 79th-minute penalty to move the Bears within one try heading into added time.
Buoyed by a second wind, the Bears collected a smart turnover and forced the Arrows back towards their try line in the dying seconds, with the Arrows receiving a second yellow card of the match for pulling down the Bears’ lineout on their own 10m line.
However, despite tremendous efforts from the Bears to cross over at the death, the Arrows defence somehow held firm in a frantic finish.
The BC Bears Senior Men’s XVs team proudly wears playing kit manufactured and supplied by X-Treme Sports Gear, the official kit supplier to BC Rugby, for the 2023 season. The kit features the logo of primary program sponsor ONNI on the right chest.