Black Sheep headed to Island finals

RUGBY: | Victory over Cowichan Piggies at home earns Port Alberni’s men’s rugby squad a trip to Velox territory for championship.

The Port Alberni Black Sheep hit their stride midway through the first half of their semi-final win against Cowichan Piggies at home last Saturday.

The Port Alberni Black Sheep Ste-am rolled over the Cowichan Piggies 44-26 last Saturday to earn a spot in the Cowichan Cup final against Velox Valhallians on April 25.

Ste Rokotuiwakaya scored a hat trick of tries enroute to the Black Sheep win.

Port Alberni looked rough at the beginning of the game, the long break seeming to have had an adverse effect on their momentum, head coach Jas Purewal said. “We were squeezing the ball pretty tight.”

Cowichan scored the first try of the game, going up 7–0. The Sheep connected on a penalty kick to narrow the gap to 7–3, but Cowichan scored again to go ahead 12–3.

A second penalty kick 25 minutes into the first half cut the deficit to 12–6 “and that settled us down,” Purewal said.

Port Alberni scored three tries and 19 points in a flurry before half time. Rokotuiwakaya scored the first try (converted by Neil Thurley) while Ty Shannon knocked in a pair (one converted by Thurley) to give the Sheep a 25–12 lead at halftime.

“We were starting to play a little better,” Purewal said. “When we got rolling it was difficult to stop us.”

Rokotuiwakaya opened the second half with his second try to go up 30–12, but Cowichan responded with a try of their own and the score was 30–19.

Rokotuiwakaya’s third try “was a real beauty,” Purewal said. “He caught it inches off the ground, right near his shoelaces. He bowled over a guy in front of him…three defenders were coming across the field and he made a big Fijian sideslip and ran right in between them.”

Thurley converted it to put the Sheep up 37–19.

A yellow card on Port Alberni’s side taken deep in their own end gave Cowichan the chance to score on a pushover, which they did, but “we came back to close the deal,” Purewal said.

Anthony Selva scored and Todd Daradics converted it for the final 44-26 score.

The Black Sheep will face Velox in the finals, on Velox’s home turf. Although Velox finished first in the league, the teams are 1-1-1 against each other in Cowichan Cup play this year. “We match up well against them,” Purewal said. “I think we can have some success against them.”

The Black Sheep last won a Vancouver Island title in 1995. The league they have been in has changed several times over the years and Island title hasn’t always been offered, Purewal said.

The Black Sheep lost in the BC semi-finals in 1999, and the BC finals in 2005 and 2010. They are playing some of their best rugby since 2010, he said.

“I’m expecting big things from our boys.”

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

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