A Westshore player, right, slips out of a tackle from Port Alberni Black Sheep Gavin Purewal to score midway through the second half of a BC Rugby Union game in Port Alberni, Saturday, Feb. 3. The Black Sheep won 38-31. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Port Alberni Black Sheep squeak out win in rugby thriller

Sheep beat Westshore 38–31 on home turf

The Port Alberni Black Sheep buckled down in the second half of their BC Rugby Union game against Westshore and pulled out a 38–31 victory in a home makeup game on Saturday.

The Black Sheep were leading 20–14 at halftime and scored a try off the opening kickoff run to go ahead 25–14, when Westshore staged a comeback that threatened Port Alberni’s win.

“It was exciting,” head coach Jas Purewal said of the second half. “There was lots of scoring. We were ahead 25–14 and they scored these 17 points—it didn’t look very promising for us because we had our heads down. For the last 13 points of the day we turned it around, which is very exciting.”

The Black Sheep bench was pretty shallow on Saturday, as six or seven players were missing due to work commitments or travel. “We were pretty scrapped for bodies,” he said. “You start moving guys out of position and that makes it tough.

“The key is the last little bit—that was all effort.”

Anthony Selva kicked a penalty goal to put the Sheep ahead 32–31 with minutes left in the game. George Bradburgh and Gavin Purewal scored two late tries to draw within the single point then salt the win for the Black Sheep.

Other tries came from Riley Savard, Selva, Cody McClary, Anare (Jack) Rokotuiwakaya and Bob Brown.

The Black Sheep scrummaging was solid, head coach Purewal said, “but we had a lot of problems in our lineouts. It’s an area we should be way better at, but we’re having difficulty getting it right.”

The Sheep were able to shut down Westshore with pick and goes close in, using their size and knowing that Westshore was playing a wide wing.

Purewal is banking on the team jelling in time to beat Cowichan Piggies in a pair of crucial games late in the second half of their season.

They head to Cowichan for the first of the two games on the first weekend of March, then host the Piggies on April 7.

“That’s what the whole buildup is for,” he said. “I believe we have enough talent in the group. We’ve had some odd injuries and guys coming and going. We’ve had no continuity and that’s been very hard for us. For us to be successful we need to get some continuity,” he said.

The Black Sheep are on the road this coming weekend, Feb. 10 as Nanaimo Hornets host a seven-aside tournament.

They host Comox Kickers on Saturday, Feb. 17 with a 1 p.m. kickoff.

SCRUM NOTES...Former Black Sheep Luke Bradley scored his first try of the HSBC Sevens Series in New Zealand on Feb. 2 in Team Canada’s 22–14 loss against Samoa.



The Port Alberni Black Sheep drive for the goal line deep in the corner of Westshore’s territory late in the second half of their BC Rugby Union game, Saturday. The Black Sheep ended up running the ball into the opposite corner for a try to cement a 38-31 win. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

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