The Port Alberni Black Sheep will have to be content with the role of bridesmaids this year after dropping a tough 12-8 game to United in the B.C. Rugby Union league championship in Vancouver on the weekend.
“The boys played really, really well,” Black Sheep head coach Jas Purewal said.
“The last six minutes we played inside their six-metre line. I was so confident we were going to put one over,” but it wasn’t to be.
Port Alberni opened scoring with a penalty goal by Todd Daradics. “We put a ton of pressure on them until we kicked the penalty goal,” Purewal said. For the first 20 minutes he felt Port Alberni had the field advantage.
However the condition of the field was not optimal: it had rained heavily the night before, and a game had already been played before Port Alberni and United took to the venerable pitch at Brockton Oval in Stanley Park.
United scored a converted try late in the first half to go ahead 7-3. The teams traded plays in the mid-field to start off the second half, then United took the advantage when one of their forwards slipped out of the grasp of a Black Sheep defender and United scored in the corner.
Purewal said one of his proudest moments of the game came after United scored that final try to go ahead 12-3. Daradics gathered the Black Sheep in a huddle to keep the players’ confidence up and Anthony Selva ended up scoring off United’s kickoff to narrow the gap to 12-8 with nine minutes left.
That turned the momentum to the Black Sheeps’ advantage, Purewal said, and caused one of United’s players to take a deliberate yellow card to interrupt the flow. The Black Sheep ran a play on the ensuing penalty but ran out the clock before they could do anything with it.
“It was really tough,” Purewal said.
“Even the try they got we had a pretty good angle on him, but (the Port Alberni defender) slipped.”
Although they fell short in the final, Purewal said none of the 20 Black Sheep who played had a bad performance. “All you ask is on the biggest game of the year, they play their best. And they did.”
Last weekend’s game was the first time since 2007 that a Black Sheep team was in the B.C. finals. That year they finished third.
This year the Black Sheep were undefeated at home in the second half, and in their final three games they scored late in the games to take the wins. Most of the core group of players will be returning next season.
“This is a great starting point for next year,” Purewal said.
The Black Sheep will hand out their team awards on Saturday, June 4.
SCRUM LINES…The Alberni District Secondary School Armada junior boys and senior girls are headed to their respective Island championships. The junior boys will be in Brentwood May 12-14 and the girls will be in Victoria May 19-21…Friday, May 27 the Vancouver Rowing Club will be in Port Alberni for a friendly match…Touch rugby starts Thursdays on a drop-in basis at the Black Sheep rugby club at the top end of Argyle Street.