The divergent results posted by the Rick Hansen Hurricanes and the Yale Lions last Thursday during the Fraser Valley senior boys rugby finals illustrated the importance of a strong start.
The Hurricanes, taking on Aldergrove Secondary for the AA Valley championship at South Surrey Athletic Park, put their stamp on the game in the early going. They scored a quick try, and dominated possession en route to a 19-3 halftime lead.
Aldergrove pushed back after the break, trimming the deficit to 19-15, but the Hurricanes buckled down at that point and pulled away for a 29-18 victory.
“We came out like gangbusters off the opening kickoff,” marveled Hansen head coach Bo Sidhu, whose team moved up to No. 4 in the AA rankings.
“I told the guys before we started that Aldergrove had a lot to prove, because we’d beaten them earlier in the season and they’d be motivated. We needed to get on them right away and take the momentum, and we did that.”
Daniel McCutcheon, a star receiver with the Hurricanes’ football team, showed that his skills also translate pretty well to rugby, scoring three tries. Jordon Gmur and Alex Massier notched one try apiece, while Suki Uppal booted two converts.
The Lions didn’t fare as well, falling 33-15 to the Earl Marriott Mariners in the Valley AAA final. In the wake of the defeat, head coach Doug Primrose didn’t mince words.
“We played terrible,” the veteran bench boss succinctly analyzed. “We came out really flat – I’m not sure why. Maybe it was the layoff (more than two weeks between games). Maybe the guys kind of took it for granted. I don’t know.”
Primrose’s disappointment was rooted in the fact that his team, ranked No. 5 in the province going in, had beaten Marriott 27-24 on May 3 to clinch the Fraser Valley Elite League regular season crown. But for the second straight year, the Mariners knocked off the Lions in the regional playoff final.
A slow start was Yale’s undoing – they spotted Marriott a 14-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game.
“From there, we really struggled to get rolling,” Primrose noted. “Every time we started to get going, somebody would make a mistake. It kind of went like that the whole game. You could tell right away it just wasn’t going to be our day.”
Brandon Jobb and Coulson de St. Remy accounted for the Yale tries, while Akash Deo rounded out the scoring with a convert and a penalty kick.
The loss caused the Lions to sink from fifth to seventh in the B.C. AAA rankings. They open the provincial championships on the road on May 28, traveling to Kamloops to play No. 10 Kelowna in the first round. The balance of the tourney runs June 1-4 at Exhibition Park in Abbotsford.