A second half scoring rush couldn’t propel the Port Alberni Black Sheep past Abbotsford RFC in a BC Rugby Union game, Saturday, Dec. 1 in Port Alberni.
Abbotsford took a commanding 33–10 lead in the first half on the way to winning their Div. 1 men’s game 45-32.
“We had a lull in the last 20 minutes of the first half,” Black Sheep coach Jas Purewal said. “If you take away this part of the game, we carried the possession. It was really close for a while, 7–7. We pulled ahead to go up 10–7, then they came back. They got three converted tries that really put us behind the eight ball.”
The Black Sheep scored twice early in the second half to shorten the gap, but Abbotsford took away their momentum a bit with a try of their own. “We lost our discipline,” Purewal said. “We took three penalties in a row; we started down in their end and before you know it they got their try.”
But the Black Sheep shook it off, Ty Shannon and Cody McClary teaming up for a long run that allowed Max Bodaly to score.
Port Alberni’s pick-and-go strategy to keep Abbotsford from their running game faltered once late in the second half as Abby scored to bring them up to 45 points. McClary scored an unconverted try for the Black Sheep right before the final whistle.
Abbotsford assistant coach Chris Chalmers said his team started the game confidently in the first half, scoring those 33 points by halftime.
“Port Alberni slowly took our confidence away, minute by minute,” he said. “At the end of the day it was a good game for both teams, but at the end they were much improved from the last time we played them.”
Abbotsford is known for their speed and depth. They came to Port Alberni with a back line they haven’t had all year, Chalmers said: Jared Douglas returned for his first game back since he played on the Canada Sevens team.
“We definitely wanted to get the ball out wide but their outside defence was really good…they came with the right game plan against us and they probably sucked us into that game plan. They did a really good job in doing it.”
“Defensively, our line speed is really good,” Purewal said. “It’s something we’ve been focusing on and it worked really well in the second half—it put a lot of pressure on them and gave us some opportunities.”
Scoring for the Black Sheep were McClary with two tries, Bodaly with two tries and Shannon with a single. Jayson Matthews kicked two conversions and a penalty goal.
SCRUM NOTES…Rugby takes a break for the holiday and will return Jan. 12, 2019…The Black Sheep are still 3–1 in Times Colonist Cup competition on the Island with two games left. They are winless in the BC-wide competition…In 2017 Abbotsford RFC had five players compete with the Canada Sevens. They also finished fourth in the province.