Cowichan Piggies can’t catch up after a slow start against Nanaimo Hornets

"They were strong out of the gates on Thursday, but on Saturday they were lacking."

Andrew Wright wasn’t sure what was different in the Cowichan Piggies between their previous training session and last Saturday’s game, which they lost 41-12 to the Hornets in Nanaimo.

“The boys were pumped up Thursday night,” the assistant coach said. “They were strong out of the gates on Thursday, but on Saturday they were lacking.”

The Hornets surged to a 20-0 lead in the first half, and while it was much closer in the second half, Nanaimo still outscored Cowichan 21-12.

It had been three or four years since Cowichan lost in Nanaimo, and Nanaimo lost all their games last year, so Wright posited that the Piggies may have been expecting an easy game.

“It’s usually close between Nanaimo and our club,” Wright noted. “The history goes back a long ways. We always have hard-fought games.”

The Piggies were plagued by injuries last Saturday, losing half a dozen players over the course of the match.

“We had seven spares, and all seven got in, six of them for injuries,” Wright said.

Despite the loss, Wright, who guided the squad in the absence of head coach Gord McGeachy, was still pleased with the players.

“I was proud of their performance,” he said. “They showed a lot of heart by not giving up.”

Mike Roberts scored Cowichan’s first try, and the second was awarded on a penalty.

As has become an annual tradition, the game served as a tribute to Wayne Peace, who played for both clubs before he died in 2007 at the age of 45.

“Every time we play each other it’s basically a tribute to Wayne Peace,” Wright said. “There a good atmosphere, wherever it is.”

The Piggies have this weekend off — a “saving grace,” in Wright’s words — before they host James Bay on Oct. 17. They will use the interim to regroup.

“What’s behind us is behind us and we’ll move on,” Wright said. “It was an eye-opener early in the season. We’re only three games in. The best time to lose is in the beginning of the season.”