Brentwood third, Shawnigan fourth at girls’ AA rugby test

Brentwood coach Marius Felix surveys the situation on the field. - Don Bodger/file
Brentwood coach Marius Felix surveys the situation on the field.
— image credit: Don Bodger/file

Brentwood College and Shawnigan Lake School girls’ rugby teams often end up playing each other in the provincial championships.

It happened again in the AA tournament at Port Alberni — not for the championship, but for third place this time. And Brentwood took the spot ahead of its rivals with a 28-12 victory.

Abbotsford won the championship game over Robert Bateman 26-12.

Brentwood opened with a 24-10 win over Lake City of Williams Lake. After building the lead in the first half, Brentwood made several substitutions the rest of the game.

That was followed by what coach Marius Felix called “a classic rugby game’’ against Abbotsford in the semifinal that resulted in a 12-10 loss.

“At the end of the day, Abbotsford had a bit more experience,’’ said Felix. “To give them their due, they defended against us extremely well.’’

Brooklyn Navarette and Katrina Florez scored Brentwood tries in the game.

Brentwood was only a break away from winning the game and making it to the B.C. final.

"Could have, would have, should have, as they say,'' said Felix. "But Abbotsford's a good program.''

Shawnigan got off to a slow start in its first game against Heritage Park, according to coach Mark Hall, but managed to win 17-7.

The momentum of the game changed after Heritage Park's fly half left the field with a broken collarbone. Hall noted she was controlling much of the game to that point.

"In her absence, Shawnigan turned things around and started to play much better rugby which we had expected from the beginning,'' Hall indicated. "First game jitters got the better of us for 30 minutes.''

Shawnigan went into the semis against Robert Bateman, one of the pre-tournament favourites, and turned things around after another slow start to lead 12-5 with only 13 minutes remaining.

But then an injury to open side flanker Tia Ngataua and the frenetic pace derailed Shawnigan's efforts.

“The pace of the game wore us out and our lack of depth after losing three key starters was our downfall and Bateman, to their credit, scored two tries in the final 10 minutes,’’ Hall noted.

Shawnigan ended up losing 17-12.

Shawnigan went into the valley battle for third place having beaten Brentwood twice on its home ground, but knew the game would be a battle.

"A battle it was and Brentwood came out like a house on fire,'' Hall noted.

Brentwood opened the scoring on a penalty kick, but Shawnigan replied with a try. Shawnigan was then given a yellow card followed by a red card 15 minutes into the game and played one short the remainder of the game.

"Brentwood took advantage of our shortcomings and played some very good rugby for the remainder of the half,'' Hall pointed out.

"Our girls gave it their best and carried the play for the majority of the second half, playing a much tighter game.''

But Brentwood came away with the win and the difference, Felix said, was his team “finally won the battle of the breakdown and actually played extremely well against them.’’

Navarette (2), Ciel Arbour-Boehme and Shannyn O’Callaghan scored tries and Avi Sharabi completed the scoring on kicking points.

"It's always good to edge our cross-town rivals,'' said Felix. "It's a great relationship we have with Shawnigan Lake.''

“This year just wasn’t meant to be for us with injuries and just plain bad luck but, considering how we finished, our girls have every reason to be proud of themselves,’’ noted Hall.

Jenn Lemon of Brentwood was named to the Commissioner's XV. "Our senior players were outstanding right across the board,'' said Felix.

That group of graduating girls includes: Lemon, Florez, Carolina Mahecha, Nambi Mbaja, Shannon McBride and Mack Sharpe.

Felix said Sharpe made a remarkable 24 tackles in the Shawnigan Lake game alone.

Brentwood will experience a loss at inside centre but should have a powerful team returning next year.

"We have our entire backline coming back, which is exciting,'' said Felix.

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