Second straight win raises rugby spirits

The Cowichan Rugby Club’s Dodds Lumber Piggies are suddenly on a two-game winning streak.

After going more than a year without winning before knocking off Seattle 60-7 at the Herd Road Grounds, the Piggies went on the road and did it again by edging Kamloops 19-17 Saturday in an Okanagan Springs Brewery League game.

The long trip to the interior began at 5 a.m. at the club, but the players made it worthwhile with a gritty effort.

“They’re a good side,’’ said Cowichan coach Chris Evans of the opposition. “They’ve got some lively backs and robust forwards.’’

Cowichan had to be especially resilient during the first half with a gale-force wind across the field working against the team.

“Other than that, the ground is like concrete compared to ours,’’ said Evans. “You had to be careful with your kicking.’’

Kamloops used its advantage to establish early territorial superiority and scored at nine minutes following a stretch of tactical play.

“Every time they got the ball, they chipped ahead,’’ said Evans.

Cowichan lost Sean Williams to injury during the early stages and brought in Dave Hitchcock to scrum half.

As the half progressed, “it was very much of a question to try and hold them out,’’ said Evans.

Kamloops utilized another chip ahead and won the race for the touch down to make it 10-0 at 18 minutes.

“From that point on, our forwards were very effective throughout the game, started to turn the screw a little bit,’’ said Evans.

Driving mauls put Cowichan into good field position and John Dubiel finally crossed for a try, with Andrew Gudmundseth kicking what turned out to be a very important conversion.

Right on halftime, Hitchcock scored and Gudmundseth converted to give Cowichan a 14-10 lead.

“I really felt the game was in the bag,’’ said Evans. “It wasn’t quite as easy as I anticipated in the second half.’’

Rob McDonnell, who had an outstanding game at flanker according to Evans, provided Cowichan with some insurance by scoring an unconverted try but the margin still wasn’t enough to breathe easy.

“Whenever they got the opportunity, Kamloops ran the ball back at us,’’ Evans indicated.

At 34 minutes, a period of pressure by Kamloops produced a try that cut the margin to two. Despite some chippy play near the end that almost proved costly, Cowichan prevailed.

“The last 15 minutes we lost a bit of composure and discipline,’’ Evans pointed out.

The following Second Division game was also a barnburner, with some of the Cowichan players doing double duty in a tough 20-19 loss.

The Cowichan women made it three games with only a combined difference of four points in a one-point loss to Kamloops.

The Vancouver Rowing Club visits Cowichan Saturday for two scheduled men’s games.

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