Yale, Hansen win provincial rugby openers

The B.C. high school boys rugby championships are set to take over Abbotsford's Exhibition Park this week, and two local schools are still in contention for a B.C. title.

Yale’s Brandon Jobb

Yale’s Brandon Jobb

The B.C. high school boys rugby championships are set to take over Abbotsford’s Exhibition Park this week, and two local schools are still in contention for a B.C. title.

First-round games were held on Saturday at sites around the province. The Yale Lions, seeded No. 7 in the AAA draw, traveled to Kamloops, where they blasted the Kelowna Owls 35-5. Christian Styles led the Yale offence with a pair of tries, while Coulson de St. Remy, Mark Walker and Bryce Hewko also found the end zone.

The win represented a nice bounce-back for the Lions, after a disappointing loss to Earl Marriott in the Fraser Valley final the previous week.

“I think that game against Marriott kind of woke us up,” Yale coach Doug Primrose analyzed. “We wanted to try and keep it a bit tight in the forwards and wear Kelowna down, because we’re bigger than them. Then we got the ball outside to some of our faster players.”

The Rick Hansen Hurricanes, the Fraser Valley champs and the No. 4 seed at AA provincials, narrowly avoided a first-round upset. Playing in Vancouver, they edged Sentinel of West Van by a score of 20-19.

Sentinel scored a try with nine minutes left in regulation to take a 19-10 lead, but the Hurricanes came roaring back with a pair of tries to steal the win. Suki Uppal came through with the winning score, while Joti Grewal, Jordon Gmur and Justin Carey also notched tries.

“We didn’t play our best game,” Hansen head coach Bo Sidhu said. “It was a morning game, and our kids weren’t used to the routine. We came out a little lethargic. But they (Sentinel) were a better team than their ranking suggested.”

The Robert Bateman Timberwolves were the lone local team to fall on Saturday. The No. 9-ranked AAA squad was relegated to the consolation bracket following a 29-23 loss to St. Michael’s University in Victoria.

A slow start doomed the T-Wolves, as they spotted SMU a 17-0 halftime lead.

“Our first half was poor – there’s no other way to describe it,” Bateman coach Dave Chambers said. “In the second half, the boys responded well and came back at them, but we’d given ourselves too much of a hole.”

Jorden Best accounted for more than half the T-Wolves’ points, scoring a try and kicking two penalties and a convert. Ryan March and Ryan Kaethler also scored tries.

The balance of the provincial tourney runs at Exhibition Park this week, beginning Wednesday. Hansen faces No. 5 Clarence Fulton of Vernon in the quarter-finals at 11 a.m., and Yale takes on second-seeded Carson Graham of North Vancouver at 4 p.m. Bateman plays Fleetwood Park of Surrey at 2:30 p.m.

The semifinals are set for 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday at Rotary Stadium, and the final goes at 4 p.m. Saturday. For a full schedule, visit bcssru.com.

PANTHERS, T-WOLVES GIRLS EXCEL AT B.C.’s

Senior girls rugby provincials were held at Brentwood College in Mill Bay on the weekend, and the Abbotsford Collegiate Panthers and Bateman Timberwolves put together some impressive performances.

The Panthers, the lowest seed in the eight-team AA draw, gave No. 1-ranked Shawnigan Lake all it could handle in the opening round, falling 29-17 in a game was tied at the half. Abby Collegiate was driving late in the game, in search of the winning points, before Shawnigan Lake intercepted the ball and ran it back 90 metres to seal the win.

The Panthers bounced back to upset No. 5 Brentwood (17-10) and No. 3 Merritt (15-10 in overtime) to finish fifth overall. Abby Collegiate’s Jessica Sabourin was named to the President’s 15.

The Bateman girls finished first in the Tier 2 tournament, which was for teams which didn’t qualify for the AA provincials. They were the last team to clinch a berth to the Tier 2 B.C.’s, but once they got there they were utterly dominant, rolling past Ladysmith (39-7) and Mt. Boucherie (20-5) before capping the event with a 30-0 win over Williams Lake in the final.

Madison Borrows was named to the President’s 15, while Sarah Miller, Lauren Kerr and Sheldon Harder also turned in standout performances for the T-Wolves.

The defending AA champs graduated all but four players from their title-winning 2010 team, but the Grade 9-centric squad made huge strides from the start of the season until the end.

“I am amazed at how far these girls have come in such a short amount of time,” Bateman team manager Marisa Meola said.