Sports

Mixed emotions for rugby split

Clutch-and-grab defence is applied by Aaron Frisby and Dale Grimston of Velox on Cowichan’s Pat Fraser, who tries to outmuscle both of them in Saturday’s Div. 1 men’s Island final rugby contest at Herd Road. - Andrew Leong
Clutch-and-grab defence is applied by Aaron Frisby and Dale Grimston of Velox on Cowichan’s Pat Fraser, who tries to outmuscle both of them in Saturday’s Div. 1 men’s Island final rugby contest at Herd Road.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

What transpired at the Cowichan Rugby Club Saturday can only be described as bittersweet.

The host club obviously made grandiose plans to sweep both Island final games in Div. 1 and 3, but ended up with a compromise of one title each against Velox.

The Cowichan Thirds started the day on the right note, beating Velox 36-27, but the Firsts couldn’t follow suit and fell 14-11 to Velox in a heartbreaker.

The Thirds will host a B.C. semifinal game Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Herd Road Grounds.

The Velox Thirds had a loaded squad that included players who’d dropped down from the Firsts and Gord McGeachy, who handles the coaching duties for both Cowichan squads, thought the locals might be in trouble.

“We were playing against a very good team,’’ he said.

Velox had a 20-17 lead at halftime when the tide — or the wind, at least — turned.

Cowichan had the wind advantage and a couple of subs were brought in that turned the three-point deficit into a 36-20 lead with 19 unanswered points.

One last converted try in the late stages by Velox did not cut into the lead enough to cause Cowichan any worry. “We had a pretty good cushion,’’ said McGeachy.

Ryan Spooner led the way with two tries. Ryan Mcavena, Jordan Weisner, Andrew Wright and Pat Large scored the other tries and Cam Hall kicked three conversions.

The Firsts’ game had a big build-up, with Cowichan confident of success in front of a partisan crowd.

“The long and the short of it is we didn’t have our best game,’’ said McGeachy.

It was an ideal day for rugby and Velox launched right into it with a converted try after just 10 minutes.

“It was a defensive battle for most of the first half,’’ said McGeachy.

Cowichan didn’t score until Owen Wood’s penalty goal on the last play of the half.

Cowichan had the wind at its back for the second half and “I thought we’d be OK,’’ said McGeachy. “We got off to a great start right off the bat.’’

Gabriel Farrell scored a try to give Cowichan an 8-7 lead. Velox came back with a converted try with about 20 minutes left.

Ten minutes after that, Wood hit another penalty. But Cowichan couldn’t get anything going after that.

“Basically, we just couldn’t hang onto the ball to get out of our half,’’ said McGeachy.

Cowichan players were obviously disappointed at the outcome. “We had some high expectations going into the playoffs, for sure,’’ said McGeachy.

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