OAKVILLE, Ont. - The Sheridan Bruins men's rugby team (4-2 OCAA) snapped a two-game slide and ended the regular season with a fresh piece of hardware, claiming the Brown Bear trophy after downing their rivals from Georgian 40-21 in the 2018 edition of the Battle of the Bears.
"We finally played to our game plan, that was quite evident. We had a fantastic week of practice even though it was really, really cold and really windy," head coach Rick Bria said. "The boys worked hard, we had a really good film session last night, and this is what we've been waiting for all season. Hats off to Georgian, they're a very well-coached, disciplined team and they didn't come out here to lose, but our boys did well."
Although they put up their second-highest point total of the season, the victory was more about defence as they held Georgian - who came into the contest putting up a league best 72.2 points per game - more than 50 points below their season average.
Sheridan was on the board early - after Nathanael Penny's fifth minute try - and it was the result of a patient attack, with 14 phases on the Bruins' opening possession. Tristian Hylton-Hastings added a second try to make it 12-0 for the Double Blue before the visitors got on the board, trimming the margin to 12-7.
Justin Tota rounded out the first half scoring with a try and his second convert, giving the Bruins a 19-7 halftime edge.
It looked like the game was going to be put away early in the second half after tries from Hylton-Hastings and Matthew Sheridan each touched it down to extend the lead to 33-7, but Georgian wasn't going to go down without a fight.
They narrowed the margin to 33-14 just after the hour mark, and their quick-strike attack put another try on the board four minutes later. That would end up being their last stand though, as Yousif Al-badri's 67th minute try proved to be the dagger and concluded the scoring.
The Double Blue will now shift their focus to a first-round playoff matchup against a still-to-be-determined opponent based on the outcomes of the remaining East Division games. Bria says that regardless of who the opponent is, their preparation will not change.
"It doesn't even really matter who we play, we're just going to be focused on playing our game. That's the bottom line," he said. "As long as we play to our strengths and the boys continue to believe in their ability, I think we'll be just fine."