An unexpected six minutes tacked onto the first half of last Saturday’s Cowichan Cup semifinal gave the Port Alberni Black Sheep a chance to score two extra tries, driving a stake into the heart of the Cowichan Piggies’ attempts to keep pace with their rivals.
When the final whistle blew, the teams were separated by more than two tries, but the momentum lost as a result of that extra six minutes played a role in the result, a 44-26 Alberni win.
"At the end of the day, we may have let it slip away, but it just wasn’t meant to be," Cowichan head coach Gord McGeachy said.
The Piggies got off to a strong start, going ahead 12-0 early on thanks to two tries by Germain Lamothe and a convert from Danny Hamstra.
"We had a really straightforward game plan: keep it simple and tight to the forwards," McGeachy said. "I though we’d be okay. The first 30 minutes, that was exactly what we did, and we were successful."
After that, Cowichan ran into some discipline issues and Alberni came back with a pair of penalty goals. The score remained at 12-6 for the Piggies until Alberni scored at 41 minutes, which should have been the end of the half. Play carried on for another six minutes, during which time the Black Sheep scored two more tries. Rather than a one-point deficit, which the Piggies would have been comfortable with, they found themselves behind by 13 points.
They didn’t let that faze them, though, and continued to play hard down for the rest of the match.
"The guys showed a lot of heart and determination and battled them try-for-try in the second half," McGeachy said.
Cowichan got second-half tries from Mike Roberts and Dan James, both converted by Hamstra, before Alberni finished them off with the last two scores to go up by 18 points.
"It was pretty typical of how our season went this year," McGeachy said. "A lack of consistency was our theme for the year. We were never able to get on track at practice either, and in a game that mattered, that showed up."