Cowichan’s Thomas Webber is pursued by a Vanier defender during a pivotal game for the T-Birds on their home field last Thursday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan boys lock up provincial berth

T-Birds beat Vanier to earn Island’s second seed

The Cowichan Secondary Thunderbirds locked up a spot in the provincial AAA boys rugby championships with a convincing 43-14 win over Courtenay’s G.P. Vanier last Thursday.

The T-Birds led the Towhees 12-7 at halftime on tries by Haele Ferguson and Brayden Doucette, and just added to their lead as the game continued. Reilly Zarate and John-Henry Morten led the way with two tries apiece in the second half, and Tanner Cardinal put the icing on the cake by stealing the ball and dotting down between the uprights. Logan Kits finished the match with four conversions.

“The boys put together a dominant performance by orchestrating a solid game plan involving multiple phase attacks with crushing runs from the forwards and precision running from the backs,” head coach Ron Glass said. “In the second half, the boys showcased their true potential by utilizing the width of the field and opened up an number of cracks in the Vanier defence.”

By beating Vanier, the T-Birds claimed a berth in the provincial tournament as the second North Island seed behind the defending provincial champs from Shawnigan Lake School.

Cowichan warmed up for the clash with Vanier by beating Ladysmith 55-24 last Monday. The T-Birds took an early 12-0 lead on tries by Ferguson and Kits, but weak individual and team tackling allowed the 49ers to get back in the game, and the score was tied midway through the first half. The T-Birds restored their 12-point lead before halftime, but struggled again to contain the Ladysmith scorers in the second half.

“The second half mirrored the first with impressive attacking play coupled with defensive lapses,” Glass said. “Fortunately some strong ball carrying and off-loading by the forwards enabled us to add to the score line. Some much needed game time was earned by many of Cowichan’s developing players in this match.”

Kits had a sensational game, finishing with three tries and three conversions. Morten scored twice, and Ferguson, Cardinal, Nick Coumont and Moses Gilbert each had one try. Liam Jones also kicked a pair of conversions.

The T-Birds have a possible provincial seeding game this Thursday against the third seed from the Lower Island, either Claremont or Belmont. The provincial tournament runs in Abbotsford on May 31-June 3.