Lakers offence explodes

MIKALA VUJCICH scores one of 10 tries the Pen High Lakers had in a 62-10 win against the South Kamloops Saints Wednesday at McNicoll Park. Elizabeth Farmer of the Saints couldn
MIKALA VUJCICH scores one of 10 tries the Pen High Lakers had in a 62-10 win against the South Kamloops Saints Wednesday at McNicoll Park. Elizabeth Farmer of the Saints couldn't slow down Vujcich. Below, Kendra Penner looks to pass the ball to a teammate as Julia Goodall falls trying to table her. She scored four tries for the Lakers.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

The Pen High Lakers senior girls rugby team improved to 2-0 in AAA Okanagan Valley League play after bulldozing their way to a 62-10 win over the South Kamloops Titans at McNicoll Park Wednesday.

Leading 36-0 into the second half, the teams took turns scoring back-to-back tries and then the Lakers sealed the win with two more scores.

Lakers coach Ian Butters liked that his eight rookies are learning to play quickly.

“They are not afraid to try things,” said Butters, whose team is ranked 10th provincially. “They are not afraid to make mistakes. That’s what a rugby coach always wants.”

Throughout the match the Lakers made the right choices with the ball, which Butters liked. He said helping the cause was the leadership of his experienced veterans in crucial positions. Butters watched as his players initiated tactics well, including tackling with control. Butters said the Saints have a good team, but are a bit inexperienced and didn’t know how to react to the Lakers changes.

“Going to provincials the last two years has really helped us,” said Butters. “Our players have had a chance to see what it’s like to have a team that constantly changes the way they look when they are attacking you.” When the Lakers were scored against, Butters moved players into positions they weren’t familiar with.

Butters quoted former Canadian national men’s team coach Ian Birtwell, who described rugby as full contact, three dimensional chess in which you watch to see where the mistakes are and then exploit them.

“They just jumped on that,” said Butters of the mistakes the Lakers made. “That’s why they were able to get the two breaks. Girls have to be under pressure if they are to learn. We were in complete control from the first five minutes.”

Saints coach Erin Connelly-Reed said their strategy was to win scrums then pick and go. The plan did work perfectly when Lizzy Gofuac was able to spring herself loose with her speed and scoop the first try for the Saints.

Connelly-Reed said the Saints are a rookie-laden team, but their leaders stepped up in the second half.

“I know Penticton has been together for a couple of years and they are a good strong team,” she said. “They showed that today. For us it’s a part of growth.”

Emma Morgan of the Lakers said they were able to work on things that needed attention.

“It’s just a great start of the season. We’re really excited for future games,” she said. “We can’t wait for what the rest of the season has for us.”

Leading the Lakers attack was Kendra Penner with four tries, while Mikala Vujcich, Anika Hollowaty, Ashley Evanoff and Shantelle Bishop also scored tries.

Morgan, a Lakers captain, said they were good in the rucks and strong offensively getting good breakaways. She also praised Elena Greig for converting on six field goals. She also scored two tries. Some of the things she said they want to work on is spreading players out to be stronger defensively and continue work on tackles.


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