Lions win first AAA boys rugby title

Yale knocks off Earl Marriott to claim senior boys AAA rugby championship.

The Yale Lions and the Earl Marriott Mariners battled Wednesday for the senior boys AAA Fraser Valley championship.

The Yale Lions and the Earl Marriott Mariners battled Wednesday for the senior boys AAA Fraser Valley championship.

A week after the Yale girls claimed the AAA Fraser Valley rugby championship, the Lions’ boys team followed suit and upended the Earl Marriott Mariners to claim the school’s first AAA senior boys boys valley championship Wednesday at Rotary Stadium.

Earl Marriott had downed the Lions in multiple Fraser Valley championships and had prevailed when the two teams met last month.

But on Wednesday, it was Yale who finished on top of the 14-10 scoreline, despite being on the defence for most of the second half.

A penetrating run from Daniel Cercel  opened the scoring for Yale late in the first half. Matt Fraser converted to give the Lions a 7-0 lead, but Marriott quickly responded with a penalty kick to narrow the Yale advantage at the break.

The second half saw a Lion banished to the sin bin for 10 minutes early and, just as he was about to return to the field to even up the teams, another Yale player ejected for a punch.

Marriott used their advantage to push the play into the Yale end. For some 20 minutes, the ball remained within 10 yards of the Lions try line, but the Mariners couldn’t score. Twice the ball found itself within a yard of the line. On two other occasions, an Earl Marriott player crossed the try line but was prevented from touching the ball to the ground.

Eventually, Yale cleared, and got the ball to Grade 12 winger Noah Bain, who took the ball wide, broke several tackles and placed the ball with jubilation between the Mariners’ goal posts.

Earl Marriott responded with a try of their own, but the Lions managed to kill the clock for the rest of the game in order to seal the win.

“The boys had a lot of adversity in that game and really played out of their skin,” Yale coach Doug Primrose said after the game. “It’s probably one of the best performances I’ve seen from one of our teams that I can remember.”

He credited the forwards for their rucking and scrum-half Thomas Rennie for getting the ball to Yale’s runners.

The win will earn Yale a high seed for the upcoming provincial championships in Abbotsford later this month.

They’ll be joined by Robert Bateman, who claimed third place in the valley with a 42-21 victory over Lord Tweedsmuir Wednesday before the championship game.