A second-half charge allowed the Cowichan Secondary Thunderbirds to prevail over the upstart Frances Kelsey Breakers in an all-Valley rugby clash last Thursday.
Eddy Walt got Cowichan on the board first, but Kelsey roared back and held a 10-5 edge at halftime. Cowichan went up on a converted try early in the second half, and although Kelsey regained the lead soon after on a botched lineout and scrum by the T-Birds, the second half belonged largely to Cowichan, who surged ahead with three unanswered tries – including a pair by Brock Gowanlock – to win 27-15.
"We seemed to come out flat in the second half after losing fullback Landon Conville to the sin bin for 10 minutes," Kelsey assistant coach Tom Fogarty said. "At this point the game swung in Cow High’s favour as they started to put on the pressure."
T-Birds head coach Ron Glass was impressed with the way the Breakers performed, but still pleased to come away with the victory.
"Despite putting up a good fight, the Breakers began running out of energy in the second portion of the second half and the T-Birds ran in three unanswered tries," he said. "Kelsey has improved immensely and this is due to the terrific efforts of Tom Fogarty and [head coach] Craig Schmidt."
Walt and Gowanlock finished with two tries apiece, while Austen Gamble also scored for Cowichan. Scrum half Colten Smith was named Kelsey’s Man of the Match.
"[Smith] showed maturity beyond his years throughout the game, especially considering he is a Grade 9 student playing against seasoned seniors," Fogarty said.
"And he was able to score a try too."
Fogarty is looking forward to battles between the Breakers and T-Birds in the future.
"It should be noted that both Kelsey and Cow High have very young teams this season and it will be interesting to see how these young and talented players develop over the next couple of years," he said.
"There is a lot of rugby potential in these young men and I believe they will only get stronger as they get more experience from close games such as this one."
Cowichan’s development side played an exhibition against Calgary’s Crescent Heights High School on Friday, coming back from a 10-point deficit to win 17-10 on tries by Josh Jones, Raul Corpas-Navas and Brady Pitts. Glass called the match "a great opportunity for both teams to provide valuable game experience for some of the more inexperienced players."
Both Cowichan and Kelsey will begin their playoffs this Thursday. Cowichan will face Alberni District at home at 3: 30 p. m. with the season on the line.
Kelsey will play host to Wellington, with the winner advancing in the North Island AA tournament.