The Port Alberni Div. 3 men’s Black Sheep squad dropped a 39–10 decision to Nanaimo Hornets on home turf last weekend, but the team has something to crow about: a crop of new recruits.
The Div. 3 team has a host of new faces this year, which is an encouraging sign for head coach Jas Purewal.
“It’s exciting,” he said this week.
The Hornets were more exciting on Sunday, scoring four tries in the first half, two of them within a minute and a half. By the time the Black Sheep recovered, it was too little, too late to catch up.
Chris Daradics (Tod Daradics’ father) scored the Div. 3 Sheeps’ first try, and Mike Nelson—with three Nanaimo Hornets hanging off of him—scored the second try on a corner play.
Kicker Troy Ratu didn’t make either of the corner conversions he kicked, but he has only recently returned to the pitch, and Purewal is confident the converts will come.
Ratu has played hockey as well as rugby throughout the years, but now that his hockey career is winding down he has time to get back to rugby, Purewal said.
“He’s coming along pretty nicely as a player,” Purewal said.
Other new faces on the Div. 3 squad include Evan Thomas, whose work schedule prevented him from playing last year. Jack Rokotuiwakaya is back from his job as a commercial fisherman, and was a force late in the second half of Sunday’s game, setting up some crucial plays deep in Nanaimo’s end.
Also joining the team this year are Nick Bourdeleau and Geoff Neufeld, who both recently graduated from the high school rugby program at Alberni District Secondary School.
And Luke Bradley, 15, is also on the team. Of note for Bradley is his recent trip to work out at the Western Canada U17 rugby camp last weekend.
The Div. 1 men had a bye last weekend and head to Cowichan for an important matchup in Times Colonist Cup play.
The top two teams at the end of a round robin will play for the cup, and Purewal wants the Sheep to be in the final again.
If they can beat Cowichan this weekend they will be in a good position to host the final if they finish in the top two.
The Lady Sheep were 28–17 winners on the road against Comox. Jane Cruttenden scored two tries and kicked four conversions, while Crystal Tourangeau and Cheena Putsey both scored singles.
After a slow start, the U17 boys seem to have found their groove, beating Nanaimo 44–24 last weekend. “The last two games have been huge improvements,” Purewal said.
SCRUM NOTES…The ladies host UVic at the Black Sheep Rugby Club at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12.