The last men’s rugby match at the Herd Road pitch in 2018 was a thriller as the Cowichan Piggies were edged 30-27 by Castaway Wanderers on a late penalty goal last Saturday afternoon.
Leading 21-15 at halftime, the Piggies couldn’t keep up with the powerful Oak Bay club in the second half, but earned respect and confidence as a result of their performance.
An open-field try by Bruce Moss gave Cowichan an early lead, but Castaways responded with two unconverted scores to go ahead 10-7. Play went back and forth until late in the first half when Thomas (Turbo) Molyneux, a recent transplant from Nova Scotia, restored the Cowichan lead. Soon after that, Robbie Wright, a former junior Piggie who just returned to the club, scored another try from a set scrum, and Cowichan was up 21-10. Castaways scored another unconverted try on a penalty play just before halftime, but the Piggies led by six at the break.
“We were pretty confident going into the second half,” Cowichan head coach Andrew Wright said.
Owen Wood slotted a penalty goal for the Piggies immediately after the start of the second half, but Castaways responded with a try. Wood hit the post on his next penalty opportunity, and although the Piggies recovered the ball, they couldn’t get it over the line.
“That was the turning point, I think,” Wright said.
Castaways took their first lead on a try soon after that. Wood kicked a penalty goal to make it 27-27, but Castaways answered back with a penalty of their own. There was just enough time for a kickoff after that, but handling errors prevented Cowichan from putting any more points on the board.
“I thought we might have it, or at least get into striking range to tie it,” Wright suggested. “But it wasn’t to be.”
Cowichan’s opponents were the reserve squad for the top side in the BC Rugby Premiership standings, and they expressed admiration for the Piggies’ play.
“They were impressed to see the Cowichan guys, the way we’ve been playing, come out that hard,” Wright said. “It was a good, strong effort by the guys. We were disappointed not to get another win under our belts to finish the first half of the season.”
The match was another indication that the Piggies are improving steadily this season.
“We’re definitely going in the right direction,” Wright said. “We can’t forget the close games. They will make us better in the long run, I think.”
The First Division side will have a long break before their next match, at home against Port Alberni on Jan. 26, although a makeup game in Abbotsford on Jan. 19 remains a possibility. The club will also hold its annual Over-Under Game on Jan. 1. Now that the club has a full Over 40s side, and few of the Firsts are over 25, it is shaping up as a promising battle.
“It should be pretty interesting,” Wright agreed.