The Cowichan Piggies won the U16 boys Island rugby championship last Sunday with a 44-24 victory over Castaway Wanderers in Oak Bay.
Cowichan trailed Castaways 19-12 after 40 minutes, but exploded in the second half.
“We were behind at halftime, but the boys responded well in the second half,” said Darren Sage, who coaches the team along with Marvin Seymour. “Trying different things certainly worked for us, and we kept putting up points.”
The Piggies managed to force Castaways to give up the ball repeatedly down the stretch.
“We were able to turn over a lot of their ball in the second half, which gave us a lot of scoring opportunities,” Sage said.
Inside centre Ciaran Breen finished the game with six tries, while Matt McDougall and Carter Blaikie also scored and Jamin Hodgkins kicked two conversions.
Cowichan and Castaways last squared off about a month ago, with a very different result.
“We were missing a bunch of key players,” Sage explained. “They had a very dominant win over us.”
The tables were turned in Sunday’s rematch.
“We got a couple of guys back from injuries and other commitments,” Sage pointed out. “That allowed us to really come together.”
The U16 Piggies have battled the injury bug all season, but kept going thanks to the efforts of a handful of players, and now have 22 committed team members.
“It’s been an interesting season,” Sage admitted. “We’ve struggled for numbers at times, but our core group of players has held the team together. Even when we’ve had 13 guys at a game, they’ve stuck in until the end. We’ve worked with what we have and worked on doing the basic things right.”
The Piggies will play for the provincial championship on the first weekend of December, meeting the UBC Old Boys Ravens in Vancouver.
Cowichan played host to UBCOB in October, in another lopsided loss for the Piggies. Sage believes his team will be ready for the Ravens this time.
“I think we were caught off guard by their playing style,” the coach said. “Since that loss, it has highlighted areas we needed to work on. We are definitely prepared to take them on this time.”