Piggies settle for draw with defending Island champions

The Cowichan Piggies salvaged a 25-25 tie with the Port Alberni Black Sheep.

The Cowichan Piggies salvaged a 25-25 tie with the Port Alberni Black Sheep, but they weren’t exactly pleased with the result despite drawing even with the defending Vancouver Island Rugby Union First Division champions.

“It was a very winnable game,” Cowichan head coach Gord McGeachy said. “We did enough to put ourselves in a position to win the game. But we left at least three tries on the field by not finishing when we had opportunities to.

“Taking the whole game into context, we played well and should have won the game, so not winning was disappointing. Having said that, we have started to improve after the first three games. We’ve made up some good ground on where we left off last year.”

The Black Sheep scored the opening try against the flow of the game, about 15 minutes in, picking off a Cowichan pass and running the ball about 70 metres to score. Cowichan continued to pressure, and it wasn’t long before Mike Rea scored to tie the game at 5-5. Ten minutes after that, Ryan Spooner scored to give the Piggies a 10-5 edge.

Not long after that, Alberni kicked a penalty to make it 10-8, but Kyle Joe scored in the corner around the 35-minute mark to put the Piggies up 15-8. Alberni scored just as the first half expired and converted the try to make it 15-15.

“We had played very well [in the first half],” McGeachy said. “We had the better part of the territory and possession. We had a couple of lapses on defence that let them score a couple of soft tries.”

The Piggies started the second half well, and Lucas Quast scored about five minutes in to make it 20-15. Port Alberni managed to tie the score, then pull ahead 25-20.

Cowichan’s Peter Budina evened things up once again with about five minutes left, but the Piggies missed the convert, which would have put them up by two points. They also missed a penalty kick for three points in the last five minutes.

The Piggies’ standouts in the contest included veteran Dan James in the forward pack, and Cowichan Secondary Grade 12 player Kyle Joe, who played in the backs and forwards.

“He started the game on the wing and finished the game at flanker,” McGeachy said. “He played a tremendous game for a 17-year-old kid.”

Following the match, both teams adjourned to the Red Arrow brewery to celebrated the launch of Piggy Pale Ale, some of the proceeds of which will go to support the rugby club.

The Piggies will battle the Hornets in Nanaimo this Saturday.

“Until we see what they have, it’s hard to predict at this stage,” McGeachy said. “As always, we expect a pretty tough battle up there.”