Fifteen players a side locked in perfect harmony, with just inches separating them from a huge victory or a devastating loss, concluded a full night of Peace High School Rugby on Wednesday night in Dawson Creek.
The NPSS/DCSS Boys side grabbed a 19-14 victory in a tough match against visiting Grande Prairie Composite High School, who notoriously boasts one of the best rugby programs in the Peace.
The home side got off to a slow start, falling behind in the second quarter scrum just outside their own end line.
The Penguin/ Oscars squad rebounded in a big way after the defensive lapse, scoring back to back tries with one convert to take a 12-7 lead into half time. Ty Woodruff and Mike Hadland scored for NPSS/DCSS.
Boys head coach Clayton Woodruff was happy with the scoring, but not with the process his team took to find the try area.
“I thought our back offense was a bit greedy,” he said.
“They weren’t passing the ball as well as I would have liked. The first three guys were running through so they got that on their mind. That’s not what we practiced. I want to see that ball get all the way to the last guy. Get to more space so we can do more runs. We got lucky and [Grande Prairie] didn’t tackle.”
Midway through the third quarter Paul Greschner scored the third try for the home side to give them a 19-7 lead.
The GPCHS Warriors battled back from that point forward, ending the third quarter with a try and a convert to cut the lead to 19-14.
The Warriors continued to push in the final frame, and had the ball on the end line of the home side when the final whistle went.
“Oh it was huge,” Woodruff explained about the effort of his team to hold the line in as time expired to clinch the win.” Good job, they played excellent. They worked really hard and that’s what it takes. It takes hard work and there’s a lot of pain out there and you have to play through it.”
On the Girls side, the combined NPSS/DCSS squad didn’t quite fare as well, falling 25-10 to the female Warriors. The first half wasn’t a very strong one for the home girls side, falling behind 15-0.
The second half was a different story, as the NPSS/DCSS girls brought the game within one try after Sarah Carney and Maura Stedel each scored for the host team.
Stedel, one of two team captains, noted after the game the difference in the second half was a simple adjustment.
“We really improved in the second half,” she said. “The first half the tackling was rough, the second half we started slaying our tackles that was really good.”
Bri Ponsford was award lady of the match for the NPSS/DCSS squad.
Unfortunately, two scores was all the home side could manage offensively, but overall it was a huge improvement from last time out.
“Last game was good as well, but this game we were more evenly matched with the other team. Everyone got more experience from it. More people got the ball,” Stedel said.
Other team captain, Amanda Phillippe, added that the effort level of the team was top notch on Wednesday night.
“Our team did a really good job, really good tackling,” she said. “I’m proud of our team.”
With playoffs on the horizon, both boys and girls NPSS/DCSS squads understand improvement is necessary to reach the next level.
“We still just have to make sure we go for our tackles and make sure we support. Make sure every time some one gets tackled we can take it out and keep going rather than rucking over it [the ball],” Stedel said.
Phillippe was already confident her team will be ready.
We’re excited for playoffs — ready for what’s coming at us,” she said.