It had been years since the Cowichan Piggies last played host to the James Bay Bears for a senior men’s rugby match, but they weren’t keen to be generous hosts last Saturday.
The Piggies came back from a 13-point first-half deficit to defeat the Bears 27-20 in the First Division test at the Herd Road pitch.
“I think most of the players on their team hadn’t played at Cowichan before, and only a handful of my players had ever played James Bay before,” Cowichan head coach Andrew Wright said. “But there’s a history between the two clubs, and some of the older guys were talking about it to get fired up before the game.”
After a slow start to the match, the Piggies struck first when Bruce Moss broke out of the second phase after a scrum and drove over the line for a try that was converted by Owen Wood. James Bay got rolling after that and led 20-7 late in the first half before Moss added another try shortly before halftime to cut the lead to eight.
With only two proper front-row players on hand for Bays, the teams went to uncontested scrums for the match, which favoured the Bears, and Cowichan might have been more successful in the first half under different circumstances.
“Our forward pack was dominant in the lineout, and I think they would have been in scrums,” Wright commented.
Cowichan gathered some momentum late in the second half when Robin Gusse scored a try that Wood converted to make it a one-point game. Wood then slotted a penalty to put Cowichan up by two, and Gusse added his second try of the afternoon to make it 27-20.
The win was Cowichan’s first of 2022 after winning the Island Second Division title last fall, and came despite the absence of some key players, including captain Danny Hamstra.
The Piggies will travel south to visit the UVic Norsemen at Wallace Field this Saturday.