They didn’t win a game but the Vernon Jackals ended their 2021 return to the rugby pitch by having fun at the Saratoga Cup B.C. C Division championships in Kamloops Oct. 2-3.
The Jackals went 0-2, dropping their semifinal game on Saturday, 36-24, to the Williams Lake Rustlers.
“A bad five-minute stretch in that game cost us,” said Jackals’ spokesperson Bryan Cragg.
Relegated to the bronze-medal match, Vernon fell 60-36 to the Terrace Northmen, who, 24 hours earlier, lost 18-17 to the eventual champion Rocky Mountain Rogues of Cranbrook in the other semifinal.
In an entertaining affair, the Northmen dominated the first half with seven tries before the Jackals showed great fighting spirit to battle back after the interval. Terrace proved too strong, however, and sealed victory in emphatic style.
The Rogues defeated Williams Lake 45-36 in the championship match.
Sunday’s showpiece match was a scintillating affair as both teams jostled for control in warm, sunny conditions at Kamloops Rugby Club. Both the Rogues and Rustlers displayed excellent standards throughout the afternoon and scored early penalties to set the tone.
The teams shared five tries in a lively first half, which saw the Rogues head into the interval with the advantage. However, the Rustlers scored an early second-half try to reduce the deficit. The Rogues responded immediately, finding plenty of joy with quick offloads at the breakdown before crossing over.
A penalty try for the Rustlers closed the gap going into the final stages but the Rogues secured victory with a coolly converted penalty. Williams Lake applied late pressure with an impressive final try, but the Rogues defence held firm as they claimed the Saratoga Cup crown.
The Rogues won the Saratoga Cup in 2018.
Vernon qualified for the provincial tournament by winning its fifth consecutive Okanagan Rugby Union crown in convincing style at home, thumping the Penticton Harlequins 69-7 at Grahame Park in late September.