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Finnerty cashes in three tries for victorious Shawnigan Lake School
It's always a battle whenever the Brentwood College and Shawnigan Lake School girls' rugby teams clash on the field, especially for the AA Island title.
Saturday's meeting at Brentwood College for Island supremacy was no exception with a mere three-point margin of victory for Shawnigan Lake School, 15-12.
Brentwood twice held the lead, 5-0 and 12-5, but couldn't hang on. Both teams exhibited some great patches of play, but were also subjected to lapses.
Right from the start, players on both sides got banged up as the game took a physical toll, a trend typical of other recent action. The training staffs were the busiest people on the field at many stages.
Chelsea Finnerty, who took a pounding as much as anyone, fought through it to score all three Shawnigan tries. Nambi Mbaja and Emmy ? scored tries for Brentwood, with McKenna Haz kicking a conversion.
Haz took a shot at a penalty goal late in the game for the tie, but came up short.
"It could have gone either way,'' noted Shawnigan coach Mark Hall. "Brentwood was a much-improved team from the first time we played them and I think it is safe to say that we limped into this game with all sorts of injuries.
"Both of our centres have suffered season-ending injuries and our starting scrum half played in the centre with a badly-sprained ankle. She managed to finish the game but struggled throughout the game.''
Finnerty led a solid group of Shawnigan players who dominated at the breakdown, turning over many Brentwood balls.
That fact wasn't lost on Brentwood coach Marius Felix.
"The bottom line is we lost the breakdown battle again,'' he said. "Shawnigan was able to poach a lot of ball. We played better than we did the last time around. Obviously, the scoreline indicates that.
"But unless we learn how to take care of the ball when we're going forward, it's going to be long days for us against good teams. Against weaker teams, we're fine. But the battle of the breakdown was in Shawnigan's favour and they deserved to win. Good on them.''
"Our scrummaging was solid but we struggled in the lineouts, as we have all season,'' offered Hall. "Our structure defensively was also a concern as there were many times that we allowed Brentwood to penetrate where we were lacking defensive numbers and organization.
"Having said this, we showed a great deal of character filling in the gaps and stepping up to the challenges. We have two weeks to prepare for the provincials and we look forward to working on our areas of weakness heading into them.''
Brentwood's Hannah Colbourne said it was a tough loss for her team, but the girls pushed through it.
"They've obviously been practicing about as much as we have,'' she said. "It was close. I think we could have beat them.
"I'm proud of my team. I think we pushed through and played really well — just obviously came out short, but it's a learning experience.''
Provincials will feature a strong field with Abbotsford and Robert Bateman challenging Shawnigan Lake, ranked No. 2, and Brentwood, ranked fourth.