The Port Alberni Black Sheep last week upset the top team in the B.C. Rugby Union, putting themselves in a good position to challenge for the league championship in their division next month.
The Black Sheep came from behind to defeat a visiting United team 24-22 in the dying seconds of Saturday’s Div. 1 contest at the rugby pitch on the top of Argyle Street. United has already earned a berth in the finals despite their lone loss to Port Alberni.
“It was a huge win for us,” Black Sheep head coach Jas Purewal said. “United have been undefeated. We were treating it as a quarter-final for us.”
Port Alberni went up 10-0 in the first half, starting off with an early penalty goal by Todd Daradics, then a try by Anthony Selva off a No. 8 pickup run to the right. Daradics converted it to give the Black Sheep a commanding lead going into halftime.
United put the pressure on in the first 25 minutes of the second half and all of a sudden they were ahead 12-10. “We lost a little bit of composure and took a lot of penalties,” Purewal said of the Black Sheep. United took a commanding 17-10 lead after scoring on a 70-metre run, then went ahead 22-10 after scoring on an interception.
Selva caught the ensuing kickoff from Todd Daradics and three or four plays later Ty Shannon scored between the goalposts to cut the gap to 22-17. Not too long after, Mike Nelson ran the ball for 15 metres, Daradics ran an outside play and Shannon scored on a pop pass from Nelson. They converted the try to take a 24-22 lead with only enough time on the clock for a kickoff, sealing the win.
“I don’t think United knew what hit them in the final seven minutes,” Purewal said. If the Black Sheep hadn’t won, it would have been difficult for them to secure a spot in the final, he added.
“When you perform like that, you’re making a statement that you really want it.”
The Div. 2 Sheep did not have such a good time, losing 53-0 in a badly outmatched contest.
Purewal is treating the Sheeps’ next game, a home tilt against Kelowna on April 30 like a provincial semi-final: whoever wins the game will face United in the BCRU final on May 7. Both Port Alberni and Kelowna are 3-1, while United is 4-1 in the second half of the season.
Meanwhile, the Black Sheep will train this Saturday, April 23 in anticipation of its final regular-season game on Saturday, April 30. Kick-off will be 2 p.m. for Div. 1 on that day and 3:30 p.m. for Div. 2.