The First Division Cowichan Piggies’ season came to an end in last Saturday’s Island final, but the Thirds captured their Island championship and will carry the Cowichan banner into the provincial playoffs.
The Firsts lost a hard-fought battle with Velox 14-11, while the Thirds prevailed 36-27 over their own Velox opponents.
"Realistically, our goal was to make the B. C. final this year," head coach Gord McGeachy said. "To lose in the Island final was a major disappointment for us. It was still a great season, but not exactly what we were hoping for."
Both teams settled into a physical, defensive battle early on in the match, and it was Velox that got on the board first, capitalizing on Cowichan’s mistakes to go ahead 7-0 about 30 minutes in. The Piggies made it 7-3 when Owen Wood kicked a penalty goal on the last play of the first half.
The Piggies were optimistic going into the second half.
"We had the wind at our back, so things were looking pretty good," McGeachy said. "We were starting to play a bit better."
Gabe Farrell scored an unconverted try to put Cowichan ahead 8-7, before the teams went into another scoreless 20 minutes.
"Then we started to make some mistakes, dropping the ball, putting ourselves under tremendous pressure in our end," McGeachy said.
Velox went ahead again on another try with about 15 minutes left to play. Wood kicked another penalty, but that was as close as the Piggies would get.
"We spent the last 10 minutes in our end, making mistakes and taking penalties," McGeachy said. "It came down to the team that made less mistakes on the day."
Playing right before the Firsts took the field, the Thirds played a "tremendous game," in McGeachy’s words.
Velox fields two First Division teams in addition to their Thirds, and several First Division players were available to suit up for the Thirds against Cowichan, but the Piggies weren’t intimidated. Ryan McAvena opened the scoring, and Ryan Spooner added two tries to give Cowichan an early lead.
Velox came back with 20 unanswered points to lead 20-17 at halftime. The Pigges dominated the second half, however, and used tries by Jordan Weisner, Andrew Wright and Pat Large to regain the advantage. Velox added a late try to get within nine points before time ran out.
The Thirds will host Vancouver’s Kats Rugby Club for a provincial semifinal this Saturday at 1: 30 p. m.
"They finished third in their league in Vancouver, but other than that, we don’t know anything about them," McGeachy said. "We’ll do what we do well, and try and figure out what they do well and stop them."