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Harlequins show championship potential
The Penticton Harlequins opened the Okanagan Rugby Union season with a 22-17 win over the Vernon Jackals April 12.
It was an unexpected result, said coach Ken Sommerfeldt, whose squad took advantage of 10 minutes of breathing time when a Jackals player was injured. The Harlequins trailed by seven at the time and the rest allowed them to make the comeback by scoring a try on the final play of the game.
“We were very happy with that,” said Sommerfeldt, who added that the Jackals are traditionally strong if the two teams meet early in the season. “Last several years they have beaten us fairly easily.”
The win was unexpected because the Harlequins made the trip to Vernon with 15 players, leaving no room for injury or substitutions. Scoring for the Harlequins were Evan Lloyd, Dan Hatch and Tesi Felemi. Lloyd also scored two converts and a penalty kick.
Scoring for the Jackals were Clark Richardson, Colton Klein and David Autino. Klein added one conversion.
Jackals player/coach Mike Scheller said it was a pretty good first effort for his club.
“We had a lot of new guys in the lineup which is a positive for our team,” Scheller told the Vernon Morning Star.
Scheller said the game was close but the Harlequins outplayed them.
“They held the advantage of ball possession and territory,” he said. “They controlled the pace of the game and were efficient at maintaining possession. If you maintain possession in rugby, you usually have success. We played pretty good defensively, and stuck most of our tackles, but when you constantly tackle, the other team can wear you down.”
Once the Harlequins have a full roster, when five players return from college and university, they will play the style they want, which focuses on the backfield for the attack. They couldn’t do that against Vernon.
“If we can get them the ball, they are a fairly strong backfield,” said Sommerfeldt. “That’s where I believe we should be focusing on for the rest of the year.”
The positive things Sommerfeldt saw in the Harlequins play against the Jackals was dominating in scrums. Sommerfeldt believes the Harlequins will be good enough to win the league. Sommerfeldt’s feelings are shared by captain David Bellomo.
“I think we have one of the youngest Harlequins teams in years,” said Bellomo. “We’ve got a lot of new players so we have to learn to come together as a team. Even though we are young, if we can play disciplined rugby, we can win some games.”
Bellomo said their win against the Jackals proved they have the pieces necessary to win. He said winning with the roster they had is an accomplishment.
While the Harlequins are expecting more players to join the club, he said, they can always use more bodies and no experience is required.
The Harlequins practise Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. at McNicoll Park.