Speed and fitness trumped size and physicality as the Vernon Jackals fell 32-10 to the Kelowna Crows in the Okanagan Rugby Union season opener Saturday in Kelowna.
Playing in wet, cold and windy conditions, the Crows built up a 17-10 halftime lead and utilized their running game in the second half to seal the win.
“They maintained most of the possession of the ball, most of the territory and held the advantage in play,” said Jackals’ player-coach Mike Scheller. “They were a young and fit team, and in the end their fitness won out over our physicality. Kelowna scored on multiple phases and simply overlapped us to score some nice tries to open it up in the second half.”
Geoff Cranton recorded the Jackals’ try, with newcomer Trevor Miyazaki booting a conversion and a penalty.
Our guys played pretty good for the first game,” said Scheller. “But we made too many mistakes to fully take advantage. We were penalized a ton in both halves and we spent most of the game backing up due to penalties.
“When we did play smart, we ran a lot of phases and were able to push them around.”
Miyazaki displayed a crafty skill-set, showing he will be an impact player as the Jackals’ new standoff. Brian Cragg ran and tackled well at his debut at inside centre.
Veterans Pearse Wylie, Dallas Agg and (Kiwi) Dan Eyles all played well in the forward pack.
In other weekend action, the Penticton Harlequins pummelled the West Kelowna Grizzlies 41-0.
Vernon battles the Salmon Arm/Enderby Manthers Sunday afternoon (1 p.m.) at A.L. Fortune in Enderby.