The Vernon Jackals brushed back the Merritt Barbarians 21-3 in Okanagan Rugby Union action Saturday in the Nicola Valley.
Pearse Wylie, Adam Morad and Josh Cooper scored tries for the Jackals, who got three conversions from Rob Miles.
It was the hardest-fought battle of the season for Vernon, who improved to 4-0.
“We got beat in the first half,” said Miles. “Merritt came out strong and controlled the first half. Every time Vernon went to do something, Merritt was there defending it.”
A lazy penalty by Vernon led to a penalty kick by Merritt for the only points of the first half.
The Jackals came out inspired in the second half with Dion Kaszas a tacking machine.
Midway through the second half, Wylie scored on a well-played ball. The teams went nose-to-nose trying to fight for the winning try, and with eight minutes left, Vernon posted a goal-line stand for the ages.
Bryan Bateman, a longtime member, said: “I’ve never seen a stand like that before by Vernon. It was a complete momentum shifter. We played defence for a solid hard five minutes and merrit was unable to score, it showed so much character for our team.”
With three minutes left, Vernon pushed their way down the field to get into scoring position. Kaszas pushed for the end zone and led to the ball being held up for a no try.
Shortly after, Morad pushed for the try with Kaszas assist. off the returning kick off vernon was able to march down to get the game wining try by josh cooper.
“This was a hard-fought game and a hard-fought win, but it showed that we are able to fight back,” said captain Mike Scheller.
Added Garth Cook: “We didn’t start pretty but we were able to get the victory and that all that matters in league play.”
Vernon plays host to defending provincial champion Prince George Gnats and the local tier two Kelowna Crows on Saturday at Grahame Park with action starting at 1 p.m.
“We encourage fans of rugby to come out and watch for what is sure to be a great day of rugby,” said Bateman.