Two Port Alberni Black Sheep rugby players pile onto a Cowichan Piggie player but the tackle was too late as Cowichan scored to take a commanding 17-0 lead midway through the second half of their BC Rugby Union game in Port Alberni on Saturday. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Port Alberni Black Sheep lose more than rugby game to Cowichan Piggies

Piggies’ win knocks Alberni down to No. 8 seed in B.C. playoffs

The Cowichan Piggies earned a couple of important rugby titles on Saturday, and they did so at the expense of the host Port Alberni Black Sheep.

The Piggies scored a late try in the first half to break a scoreless tie, then dominated the second half of their Vancouver Island Rugby Union game to win 39–0. The victory gave them the Cowichan Cup, as well as second place in B.C. going into the provincial playoffs. Cowichan also earned the Times Colonist Cup during the first half of the year.

The Black Sheep were already in deep before Saturday’s game started: they had forfeited their previous game against Cowichan on March 3 due to lack of players, which was an automatic 20–0 default win for the Piggies. That meant the Black Sheep had to win by 24 points on Saturday in order to win the Cowichan Cup and earn the No. 2 seed in B.C.

“That might have hurt us a little bit,” Black Sheep head coach Jas Purewal said. “We played a little loose. Then Cowichan waited to take advantage of us; they just waited for us to make mistakes.”

The teams were scoreless after 39 minutes, and Cowichan scored a late try in the first half to go up 7–0 just before the break.

Lack of communication on the field played a part in the team’s breakdown in the second half, Purewal admitted. “We’ve got a lot of guys playing out of position to make up for the guys that are missing. It’s a domino effect. We’re having difficulty with communication. You’ve got to know who you’re with. We had lots of unorganizational mistakes.”

Cowichan coach Andrew Wright gave the Black Sheep full points for their tight play in the first half.

“We went 39 minutes of 0–0 rugby in a 40-minute half. Port had us in our half (of the field) for a long time and it was back and forth. We squeaked a try in to close the half out,” Wright said. “It was 7–0 but could have been 0–0.

“We’ve been really focused on our fitness this year and it really showed,” Wright added.

“It was a hard, grinding game. Port didn’t give up whatsoever during the whole 80 minutes and we didn’t expect anything less from our North Island brothers.”

Wright said the turning point for the Piggies was getting points on the board in the first half as well as scoring an early try and a penalty kick in the second half. Then the game started to get away from the Black Sheep.

Purewal said the Black Sheep showed courage on their defence, despite the lopsided score. “Their defence on the goal line stands was very good. The problem we had was the loose play—Cowichan scoring really easy tries.”

Losing to Cowichan puts the Black Sheep as No. 8 seed in B.C., meaning they will play either Surrey, Bayside or Vancouver Rowing Club. Those three teams are all within two points of each other with a couple of games in hand. They have faced Surrey and Rowing Club this year, losing both times.

“I guess we chose to take the hard path,” Purewal said.

SCRUM NOTES…Saturday’s contest was the Black Sheep’s final home game of the regular season. They visit the Comox Kickers this Saturday, April 14 (1 p.m. kickoff) before heading to Vancouver for the B.C. Rugby Union quarter-final playoffs on Saturday, April 21.


The Cowichan Piggies take control of the ball out of a ruck late in their road game against Port Alberni Black Sheep, Saturday, April 7. The Piggies won 39–0, which gave them the Cowichan Cup title as well as second place in B.C. going into the playoffs. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

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