With the school year winding down the 1st XV’s rugby season started to ramp up with the lower mainland tournament starting. This was the start of the road to provincials, with the team trying to earn their spot as one of the higher seeds. The team currently ranked 2nd in the province, there were high expectations.
The annual lower mainland tournament features 8 teams that compete to be named the Quad A representative in provincials (Quad A is the higher tier) and take home the New Zealand Shield. Saints having won 3 years running, there was pressure to repeat and retain the crown.
Saints’ first match was against 8th seeded Prince of Wales (PW). Unfortunately PW was unable to field a team due to lack of players and Saints was able to advance into the semi finals.
The semi finals were held at Klahanie Park in North Vancouver on May 10th against West Vancouver. Saints had played West Van earlier in the year, beating them 82-0 so West Van was out for some redemption. The match started with a West Van try just 5 minutes in. This unfortunately for West Van was the wake up call Saints needed. Saints responded with a flurry of tries taking the lead going into the half. The second half was much of the same with Saints dominating most of the half. West Van had chances here and there but were unable to capitalize. The final score. 62-14. Saints was off to the finals.
The final was held at Brockton Oval on May 19th playing rival Carson Graham. When these two teams met earlier in the year it was a close affair with Saints leaving with a hard fought victory. Saints stole the trophy from Carson 3 years prior and Carson was looking to take it back. The match was close from start to finish. Will Sauder (12) opened the scoring, slotting a penalty from right in front. Spencer Cooper (12) scored the first try saints with Will Sauder slotting the conversion. With fatigue starting to wear on each team, Saints was in need of a spark. This came in the form of Justin Foti (12). From a turnover Owen Pitblado (12) booted the ball down the field where Carson had failed to cover. Starting 10 meters behind everyone else, Foti was able make up the ground and catch the ball before running in for a spectacular try. Will would slot the convert and push saints even further ahead.
The second half was a dogfight from start to finish. Carson Graham found some confidence and pushed Saints to the edge. Saints would bend but not break however. Stellar defence from 10-12 combination of Will Sauder and Keegan Matheson while big forwards Sam Turner (12) and Noah King (11) layed down some big hits. Carson Graham would get a try back halfway through the half to pull within 3 points but that was as close as they got. On the final play of the game, Saints’ forwards bullied their way over the try line with a textbook rolling maul. Final Score 28-18 St. George’s.
Saints played with a lot of heart and showed a lot of character in the Lower Mainland win. It is now on to provincials where the team will look to take home their 2nd championship in 3 years.