Barbarians pillage Jackal defence

The host Merritt Barbarians devoured the Vernon Jackals 52-0 in Okanagan Rugby Union play Sunday at Voght Park.

The host Merritt Barbarians devoured the Vernon Jackals 52-0 in Okanagan Rugby Union play Sunday at Voght Park.

It was total domination by the Barbarians, who scored on their first two possessions and registered 31 points in first half against the wind, and another 21 after the break.

The Jackals had only three forays into the Barbarians’ half of the field, all in the first half.

Vernon’s forwards generally played well and the Jackals were strong in the scrum, but their back line was completely outclassed and failed to generate any offence. Numerous knock-ons and technical infractions in the rucks didn’t help their cause.

Barbarians’ standoff Cole Levitt was easily the Merritt Herald Man of the Match, with timely runs and efficient ball distribution to go along with an incredible kicking game; six converts to go along with his one try.

Three Barbarians’ tries were turned in by 19-year-old Eric Schmidt; others by Cameron Graham, Riley Clark, Stuart Woodman and playing-coach Tom Wigglesworth.

“We gave away some weight in the forwards but generally held our own,” said Barbarians’ playing-coach Ryan Reid, who praised scrum-half/coach Mike Scheller for a gritty performance.

“We went into the game knowing our advantage was in our backs, and that proved to be the case.”

Added Scheller: “We sucked. Simple as that. They beat us in every facet of the game – ball handling, tackling, aggression, desire. They dominated both halves, and held the majority of possession during the match.

“They tackled well, ran hard, and we spent the match on our heels. Their tight head prop, eight-man, standoff and both their centres played very well against us.”

Unfortunately, the much-anticipated family showdown between cousins Jonathan (Barbarians) and Garth (Jackals) Cooke didn’t happen as Garth, formerly of Merritt, is out of the lineup with a possible season-ending injury.

The one area where the 2-5 Jackals excelled was in the scrums, thanks to props Jarrod Stinn and Dallas Agg, hooker Eric Sundquist and locks Todd Dulaba and (Jackals’ Man of the Match) Bryan Bateman.

“Our tight fives are really the only group to be praised on our club,” said Scheller. “We controlled a lot of the scrums, and our guys gave us very nice ball on our put-ins.

“On their scrums, we pushed them back and made it very difficult for them to achieve clean ball. They were also solid in the rucks.”