Justin Gabriel of the Penticton Harlequins tackles Jan Vreys of the Vernon Jackals in the Okanagan Rugby Union playoff final Saturday at Grahame Park. (Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star)

Jackals brush back Harlequins

Win third straight Okanagan Rugby Union playoff title

The Vernon Jackals pulled a three-peat by brushing back the Penticton Harlequins 24-22 in the Okanagan Rugby Union playoff final Saturday afternoon at Grahame Park.

The teams were meeting in the championship tilt for the third straight year and it again went right down to the final whistle.

The second-place Harlequins came up flush with numbers and were able to pull in some faces from the past to truly test the defending champs.

“Penticton threw everything they had at us in that first 10 minutes; we were lucky to get out of that only down three,” said Vernon backs captain Bryan Cragg, discussing the start which was dominated by the Penticton forwards and was capped with a 40-yard boot which split the uprights giving the visitors the early lead.

Vernon, who had not trailed in a game for their entire undefeated season, needed to reset and led by veteran and eventual co-Kal Sports Bar Man of the Match Jan Vreys and Reece Milham, calmed the team down which stopped the Jackals from hemorrhaging penalties and turned the momentum to the home team.

RELATED: Jackals jolt Harlequins in final 

Once the champs could retain ball possession, they were able to score three quick tries before the half with Vreys, Kyle Richardson and Rich Frankin all finding the end zone and Cragg kicking two conversions.

The effort Penticton came out with at the onset of the game was nothing compared to how they started the second half as the Jackals’ 19-3 half-time lead disintegrated quickly as the Harlequins exploited some weak spots and perhaps a little overconfidence by the Jackals.

The Harlequins scored twice and converted both to shave the lead to 19-17 and looked to have all the momentum against a relatively inexperienced Jackals squad.

“It wasn’t looking great but coach (Clay) Coles noticed something late and made a call from the sideline next time we were in their end,” said Cragg.

That call from sideline boss Coles who coached this season due to injury sprung Cragg around the edge for a score with eight minutes remaining for a 24-17 Vernon lead.

Penticton answered but just didn’t have enough left in the tank for another score in the dying minutes.

Vernon now takes a small summer break to rest and heal before they start the tournament season with Centre of Gravity in late July which now has a sevens competition.

The Jackals have earned the right to compete for the provincial title which takes place in Penticton in September versus the Rocky Mountain Rouges, Prince George Gnats and Terrace Northmen, who have beat the Jackals the previous two years in the B.C. final.


@VernonNews
sports@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Mikkal returns to roots for Vernon show

Lavington artist plays Record City alongside VonReason and Grandpa Gruv

Pet Planet picks up Lumby’s cannabis for pets

True Leaf Medicine International expands retail distribution to 3,500 stores worldwide

Record rotary auction makes Okanagan dreams come true

Kalamalka Rotary Club donates more than $194,000

Vernon RCMP seek people on outstanding warrants

Trio sought by Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP for various infractions

VJH Foundation announces 2019 Hospital Gala

The event is set to take place Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre on May 11.

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Update: Highway 3 near Keremeos open to alternating traffic

Details scarce about collision that has closed Highway 3 west of Keremeos

Okanagan librarian delves into trio of titles

Book Talk: Dark Matter, Lincoln’s Dreams and The Jealous Kind

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Indigenous students recognized at ceremony at Okanagan College

The ceremony recognizes that students are getting an education while holding onto Indigenous background and teachings

Most Read