With the clock ticking down in the B.C. AAA boys rugby bronze medal game, the Yale Lions were in position to absorb yet another crushing loss to their arch-rivals, the Earl Marriott Mariners.
The South Surrey squad, which had upset the Lions in the Fraser Valley title game two weeks prior, had surged ahead 11-10 on a Thomas Choi try with six minutes to go at Rotary Stadium.
But the Yaleans found some late magic from their captain, Spencer Loughlin, who took a backhand flip from scrum half Jason Hignell, made a quick juke to his left, found a hole and sprinted through the Mariners’ defence to touch the ball down under the posts.
That try, followed by Daniel Davidson’s convert, gave the Lions a 17-11 lead with just under three minutes left, and they hung on to clinch the first AAA provincial medal in program history.
“It’s the best-ever finish for Yale Secondary, and it’s the best finish by any Abbotsford school in the last 18 years,” noted Lions coach Doug Primrose, referencing the silver medal won by the Abbotsford Senior Panthers in 1995. “These guys have really accomplished a lot in this tournament, and all season. I’m real proud of them.”
Loughlin’s winning try was his second of the game, and Jimmy Ahn had the other Yale try.
Loughlin said his clutch play “felt fantastic.”
“I was so tired, but so happy,” he said. “I knew there was still about three minutes on the clock, so the game wasn’t over, and we still had to work to defend it.
“We worked so hard this year,” he added. “Obviously they (the Mariners) were our biggest rival this year, so getting back at them, winning the final game, feels fantastic.”
In other AAA provincial action on Saturday, the Robert Bateman Timberwolves crushed the Oak Bay Bays of Victoria 45-12 in the seventh/eighth placing game.
The AA seventh/eighth game also featured an Abbotsford school, and the Rick Hansen Hurricanes thumped G.W. Graham of Chilliwack 26-7.