The Port Alberni Black Sheep lost their first game of the Division 1 fall season to Cowichan 28-19, but coach Jas Purewal was still content with the team’s effort.
The Black Sheep were on the road to play Cowichan, which recently dropped down from the Premier League to Div. 1.
“We played very well,” Purewal said. “With Cowichan, you’ve got to consider them the top dogs.”
Cowichan opened scoring with a penalty goal to go up 3-0, but Ty Shannon scored his first of three tries to put Port Alberni ahead 5-3 early in the contest.
The Sheep got caught sleeping and Cowichan capitalized it to take the lead again, 10-5, but Port Alberni got it right back when Anthony Selva completed a good run by popping the ball up to Shannon for his second try. Todd Daradics converted the try to give the Sheep a slight 12-10 edge.
In the dying seconds of the first half, Cowichan scooped up a loose ball and squeaked in a try at the whistle to go up 15-10. They opened the second half with back-to-back penalty goals to take a commanding 21-12 lead.
Shannon’s third try, converted by Daradics, brought the Sheep to within two points. But Black Sheep pressure translated into two more penalty goals, and Cowichan put the game away in the fourth quarter.
“We took way too many penalties,” Purewal said. “We couldn’t really play an up-tempo game and we turned over the ball a lot. And that was a bit of a problem.”
However, Purewal was happy with the team’s overall play, if not with the score. Many of the problems are simple things that will be easy to fix this early in the season, he added.
Sheep gear up
for New Zealand
The Black Sheep will take a contingent of 28 players to New Zealand from Sept. 25–Oct. 12 to watch some World Cup games and play in four friendlies.
The Sheep will visit Napier, Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch and Queenstown, travelling between New Zealand’s north and south islands, Purewal said.
“It’s a busy itinerary, but what an opportunity,” he said.
The last time the Sheep attended rugby World Cup games was in 1991, when a group spent 21 days in England, Wales and Scotland.
“It was amazing what it did to all of us as rugby people,” Purewal said. “It made us appreciate the game that much more.”
Two or three of the teams that the Black Sheep played while in the United Kingdom have since visited Port Alberni, and Purewal hopes some sort of reciprocal visit can be made with teams they will play in New Zealand.
On tap this weekend
The Div. 1 men are in Victoria this weekend to face the UVic Jutes. The Div. 3 men, ladies and U17 boys all have byes as they have commitments with the Alberni Valley Fall Fair this weekend.