Cowichan holds off late Alberni charge

David Cowie of Cowichan cuts to the outside on Josh Shannon of Port Alberni in a Div. 1 men
David Cowie of Cowichan cuts to the outside on Josh Shannon of Port Alberni in a Div. 1 men's semifinal rugby playoff Saturday.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

For the better part of the Div. 1 men's Island semifinal rugby playoff match at the Cowichan Rugby Club Saturday, it looked like a runaway for the home side.

But visiting Port Alberni made it an interesting match by never giving up despite trailing by 29 points. In the end, the gap was simply too wide and Cowichan hung on to win 29-21.

"We took our foot off the gas with 20 minutes to go,'' said Cowichan coach Gord McGeachy. "It got a little tense at the end.''

Cowichan got off to a great start, scoring just five minutes into the game when Owen Wood ran in for a try from long range. Peter Budina scored five minutes later and Wood converted for a 12-0 Cowichan lead.

Just 10 minutes after that, Pat Fraser scored a try converted by Wood and George Bantin added another to make it 24-0 at the half.

Fraser tallied his second try of the game just moments into the second half and it was 29-0 for Cowichan. Game over, right?

Not quite.

"For the next 15 minutes we did keep the pressure up,'' said McGeachy.

But Cowichan couldn't pad its total further and Alberni suddenly found its form in the late stages.

"They showed a lot of heart there,'' conceded McGeachy.

Alberni clawed all the way back to within eight points with five minutes remaining.

Velox won handily over Nanaimo in the other semifinal and will now visit Herd Road for the Island final at 2:30 p.m. next Saturday, April 26.

The Cowichan Third XV defeated Velox 29-12 in its final regular season game. The teams will play a rematch in the Island final at 1 p.m. April 26 prior to the Firsts.

Both teams have a chance not only to win Island titles, but to host B.C. semifinals on May 3 with victories.

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