In perfect harmony

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers had been wondering a lot this season what would happen if they put all three phases of their game together at one time.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders found out the hard way yesterday in the fourth annual Banjo Bowl.

Tailback Charles Roberts scored three one-yard touchdowns, the defence held the CFL's highest scoring team to two major scores, and Winnipeg's special teams were the best they've been in a while as the Bombers shot out of the gates and rolled to a 34-15 victory in front of 29,783 boisterous spectators at Canad Inn Stadium.

The Bombers improved to 6-3-1 and regained their one-point lead on the Montreal Alouettes (6-4), who beat the B.C. Lions 32-14 yesterday afternoon, atop the East Division.

"When you play like that, you showed us what you can do," head coach Doug Berry said, relaying what he said to his team after the game. "Now there's a little bit of more expectation -- from me and themselves, the media, the fans, everybody.

"You hope it's just not a blip. You did it. Let's play it again."

The game made a winner out of cornerback Juran Bolden and linebacker Ike Charlton in their returns to the Bombers after five years and four months, respectively, in the NFL.

The Blue and Gold also avenged their 31-26 loss to the Riders in last Sunday's Labour Day Classic. Saskatchewan, however, still has the best record in the CFL at 7-3.

Roberts, who had 98 yards on 22 carries, said that doesn't necessarily make the Riders the league's top squad.

"We feel like last week we let the game slip away," said Roberts, who leads the CFL with 12 touchdowns. "They didn't do anything to us last week to prove that they are the better team ...

"Statistically they're supposed to be the best team in the league, but we feel different."

The Bombers got points on four of their five drives in the first half, including two Roberts scores, Milt Stegall's eight-yard catch from Kevin Glenn for career touchdown No. 141 and Troy Westwood's 12-yard field goal, and grabbed a 24-8 halftime lead.

SPECTACULAR

Glenn was spectacular once again, completing 24 of 31 attempts for 279 yards, a touchdown and an interception by Jermaine Chatman. It was Glenn's first pick in seven games and 246 pass attempts, but it didn't dampen his day as the Bombers held on to the ball for 17 more minutes than the Riders.

"We strive to try to do that kind of thing and keep our defence off the field," Glenn said, "because when our defence is off the field, they're playing great defence."

Roberts added another touchdown plunge on Winnipeg's first drive of the second half -- after Fred Reid's 63-yard kickoff return -- and Westwood booted another 12-yarder to round out the scoring for the hosts.

Saskatchewan's Wes Cates had a two-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and D.J. Flick had an 11-yard TD catch from Marcus Crandell, who replaced starter Kerry Joseph midway through the fourth.

"It's just a minor setback," Joseph said. "We've just got to go back and put some more wins together like we did after our last loss. That's what good teams do."

The Bombers defence held the Riders to 127 yards of total offence under Joseph, who completed 11 of 17 passes for 103 yards. Crandell did much better in his half quarter, going 9-for-15 for 146 yards.

"There were so many errors," Riders head coach Kent Austin said. "We didn't tackle well, we didn't cover well. They ran the ball on us, and we couldn't protect the quarterback.

"Other than that, it was a good game."

The Bombers now get ready to take on the Tiger-Cats (1-9) in Hamilton on Saturday, when Casey Printers is expected to make his first CFL start since 2005.


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