T-Birds beat NDSS, prepare for finale of Stadium Series

After a flat start, the Cowichan Secondary Thunderbirds battled back to earn a 45-19 road win over Nanaimo District Secondary.

After a flat start, the Cowichan Secondary Thunderbirds battled back to earn a 45-19 road win over Nanaimo District Secondary in senior boys rugby last Thursday.

The T-Birds refused to give up after falling behind the Islanders 12-0 in the early going.

“NDSS had a number of very strong runners and too many missed tackles on our part gave them early opportunities, which they took full advantage of,” Cowichan coach Tom Fogarty said. “Our second half was much better, and once we started moving the ball and hitting our power runners, we were able to turn pressure into points.”

Peyton Eagar scored four tries from inside centre, and Jake Paras, Jesse DiCarlo, John-Henry Morten and Colten Smith had one each. Owen Harvey kicked three conversions.

The T-Birds lost starting fullback and firecracker Jesse DiCarlo to a separated shoulder on the last play of the game. The team now has six starters sidelined with injuries, and Fogarty is hoping to get them all back before the provincial tournament in Abbotsford on May 25-28.

Canadian international scrum-half Phil Mack of Victoria led a training session for the T-Birds on Monday, and Fogarty called him “an inspiration to our players.”

“We would like to publicly thank him for coming out during his free time to help us improve,” Fogarty said.

A member of the Toquaht First Nation, Mack leads the Vancouver Island Thunder rugby team, which is focused on bringing the sport to aboriginal communities on the Island and across Canada. Several Cowichan players have committed to playing for the Thunder this summer.

The T-Birds will be in action this Saturday in their last game in the Stadium Series against seventh-ranked Lord Tweedsmuir at Shawnigan Lake School, kicking off at 2 p.m.

“We hope the local public can come out and support the T-Birds in what will be our toughest test yet,” Fogarty said.