The Yale Lions senior boys rugby team played a game of keep-away on Thursday afternoon that was successful on a couple of levels.
Playing on their home turf against the Robert Bateman Timberwolves, their East Abbotsford rival, the Lions dominated possession en route to a hard-fought 33-22 victory.
In the process, Yale retained the Abbotsford Cup, emblematic of local senior boys rugby supremacy, for the second year in a row.
“They did a great job of controlling the ball – you’ve got to give them full credit for that,” Bateman coach Stephen Rowell noted afterward. “They didn’t give the ball up, and when you don’t have the ball, you can’t score.”
A strong performance by Yale’s forward pack paved the way for the keep-away game plan to succeed. But on those occasions where they did spill the ball, Bateman was able to strike quickly. Former U17 national teamer Justin Douglas capitalized on one such turnover, sprinting 60 metres for a try that brought the T-Wolves to within 25-22 in the second half.
But the Lions buckled down from there, and Tyler Barons’s late try in the corner sealed the win.
Outside centre Christian Styles and prop Paul Ahn also had big games for Yale. For the T-Wolves, Douglas finished with two tries, while Michael Rose found the end zone once and Jorden Best booted two converts and a penalty kick.
Lions coach Doug Primrose said the victory represented a step in the right direction for his team.
“We’ve got a lot of good athletes who have been playing rugby for a long time, but sometimes they get too individual,” he said. “We’re trying to get them playing as a team – 15 guys working together. Today, we did a good job of that for the most part.”
The Lions clinched the Abbotsford Cup by going undefeated against the other four local schools. They defeated W.J. Mouat in league play and knocked off Abby Collegiate (AAA Tier 2) and Rick Hansen (AA) in exhibition action.
Yale (3-0) maintained its perfect record in the Fraser Valley Elite League, setting up a big game against the Earl Marriott Mariners in South Surrey next Thursday. Both teams are unbeaten in league, and the winner receives an automatic berth into the Valley title game.