The Vernon Jackals will have a chance to win their fourth straight Okanagan Rugby Union championship at home.
The Jackals clinched first place in the ORU, downing a determined, hungry Penticton Harlequins squad 55-34 at Grahame Park to earn the right to host the final against the Penticton at Grahame, Saturday, July 6, at 1 p.m.
The Harlequins were set to host the Salmon Arm Yeti in the league semifinal this weekend but the Yeti have forfeited due to a shortage of players.
The three-time defending champion Jackals were tested by a hungry Harlequin team that looked to improve on a week one match which saw them hold Vernon to a 15-15 tie.
The previous matchup was heavily defensive on both sides and could not have been more different than the June 15 match which saw an abundance of tries and long line breaks by both squads.
Vernon opened the scoring early with veteran Bryan Cragg scoring his first of two tries on the day off a clever draw and pass by prop Josh Cooper only five minutes into the match. Penticton was quick to answer and take over the lead with two consecutive scores of some backline misplays and fortunate bounces, grabbing momentum to the visitor’s side.
The two teams traded punches for the remainder of the half with Ike Olson breaking two full-field runs for the Jackals, keeping the game close with a score of 29-24 for Penticton at halftime.
After allowing the visiting team’s standoff to score at will, the Jackals made some key adjustments at the break and limited Penticton to just one more try for the rest of the game. Some outstanding defence by flankers Trevor Lamp-Feeney, Lucas Hoffer (both of whom ended with a try a piece) and import C.J. Webber, who applied heaps of pressure on the opposing backline all game were able to turn the tide in the home team’s favour.
Despite some late game pressure and being backed up multiple times, Vernon’s relentless wingers Travis Beck and Trey Horton broke tackles and zipped around the edges for two tries which put the game out of reach.