Playing shorthanded the whole game, the Cowichan Piggies ended up on the wrong side of a 40-20 final score when they travelled to Port Alberni for a Times Cup rugby match with the Black Sheep.
With several players out of town or injured, Cowichan took 14 over the Hump, and found themselves down to 13 almost immediately after they arrived.
“One of our guys hurt himself in warmup,” Piggies coach Andrew Wright explained. “And couldn’t get through.”
Two players down, the Piggies still got down to business and scored the first points of the match on a penalty kick by Owen Wood four minutes in. Strong in the forward ranks, Alberni came back hard and scored a try around the 10-minute mark. Cowichan replied when Noah Dobson scored in the corner, giving the Piggies a brief 8-7 lead.
Alberni went up 14-8 before the Piggies suffered yet another injury and were down to 12 guys for the last 10 minutes of the first half. The Sheep took advantage of that to score two more, and it was 28-8 for the hosts at halftime.
Cowichan managed to get one player back for the second half, and added tries from Robin Gusse and newcomer Roan Carter. Alberni also scored a pair in the second half, but Wright was pleased to play to a stalemate over the last 40 minutes.
“For being two guys down for the second half, an equal score is pretty good in my book,” he said. “I would bet that if we didn’t lose a guy in the last 10 minutes of the first half, they would have been hard-pressed to get their last two tries.”
The coach wasn’t the only one happy with the way things turned out.
“Everyone was pretty positive coming off the field,” he said.
The Piggies have now split their two games against the Black Sheep this season, and are also 1-1 in Times Cup play. Wright is looking forward to the rubber match against Alberni.
“They come down to us in the spring, so hopefully we’ll have a full squad,” he said. “I’m pretty confident in where we’re going.”
Cowichan has this weekend off, then hosts the always strong Surrey Beavers on Nov. 2.
“We’re looking forward to the game against Surrey to see what we’re up against,” Wright said.