Sports

Falcons win Grade 8 Fraser Valley rugby title, Lions juniors settle for second

Yale’s Connor Byron ran over a would-be Earl Marriott Mariners tackler in the Valley junior boys final. - Dan Kinvig
Yale’s Connor Byron ran over a would-be Earl Marriott Mariners tackler in the Valley junior boys final.
— image credit: Dan Kinvig

It was a case of agony and ecstasy for Abbotsford teams in the Fraser Valley boys rugby finals on Wednesday.

The ecstasy was supplied by the W.A. Fraser Falcons, who won the Grade 8 regional championship with a 30-12 victory over the H.D. Stafford Skyhawks of Langley.

The agony was sustained by the Yale Lions junior boys – they came into the Grade 10 final undefeated, with extremely impressive wins over powerhouses Shawnigan Lake and St. George’s on their resumé, but suffered a 14-12 upset loss in the Valley final to the Earl Marriott Mariners.

“It’s a tough thing to be focused when you haven’t had the type of pressure we had in this game,” said Yale co-coach Clayton Radons, whose team’s 13-0 record coming in was littered with blowouts.

“We just didn’t know how to deal with some of that pressure. We had a couple moments of panic, and in a tight game, that’s what will come back to bite you.”

The Falcons have had a lot of big moments in recent years – they claimed their third straight Valley title, and sixth in nine years, with a comeback win over Stafford.

The Skyhawks built an early lead, but Fraser rallied on a trio of tries from Teo DeGianni and one apiece from Carter Miller, Taimoor Syed and Sachi Peterson.

“We’re fortunate to have great kids at our school,” said Ryan McWhinney, who coaches the Falcons with Dilpreet Chahal and Scott Alexander. “We’ve been lucky to build a program and have kids buy into that.

“We knew it was going to be a battle (against Stafford) . . . We were a bit worried in the early going, but our boys managed to keep battling.”

The Yale junior boys were missing a key player in Matt Fraser, who was sidelined with a broken wrist, but still managed to claw their way to a 12-7 lead behind tries from Josh Paz and Thomas Rennie, and an Evan Johnston convert. But the South Surrey-based Mariners got a converted try in the final minute to pull ahead.

“I think we probably played our best and peaked in the Shawnigan game,” Radons said. “Bottom line is, Earl Marriott beat us. They played really well, and took advantage of some of our stuff where we had a couple of holes.”

FALCONS GIRLS WIN UPPER VALLEYS

Last week, the Fraser Falcons Grade 8 girls squad won the Upper Valley title, beating crosstown rival Clayburn 43-14.

The Falcons capped an undefeated season with a terrific performance, highlighted by tries from Brooklyn Murphy (2), Sapna Deo, Abigail Bishop, Sarah Sale, Lexine Clairmont and Tamika Waldbillig, plus converts from Deo (3) and Parm Dhillon. Maddie Krahn and Chelsea Paivarinta picked up player of the game honours.

Clayburn had a great campaign in their own right – the school didn’t run a girls team in 2013, and as a result, all but two players on the squad had never played rugby prior to this season. Alicia Simpson and Hunter Czepell scored tries in the Upper Valley final, and Kira Joaquin kicked two conversions.

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