A late turnover proved the difference as the Vernon Jackals bowed 30-25 to the host West Kelowna Grizzlies in Okanagan Rugby Union play Saturday.
The Jackals, who led 10-0 at the half, watched as the Grizz capitalized on a handful of errors, running in four long tries to secure the win. Vernon was down by a try late in the game and scored to equalize, but West Kelowna responded with the late winner.
“It was a tough loss for our club,” said Vernon player-coach Mike Scheller. “The first half was pretty even, as the score suggests, and the second half both teams opened it up and scored a lot more points.
“It was an exciting second half. We dominated the game in terms of territory and ball possession, but we really had to work to score. It took us multiple phases to score, while they capitalized on mistakes.”
Tanner Nordstrom-Young led the Jackals with two tries, while Adam Morad, Geoff Cranton and Josh Cooper each crossing the line once.
Scheller credited West Kelowna’s fullback and 8-man for giving Vernon’s defence fits.
“We had no one to match their speed,” he said. “Once they got open they scored. We did not tackle that well in the backs, and it cost us.”
For the Jackals, Scheller said props Bryan Bateman and Eric Sundquist made a lot of tackles, and were involved in physical play all game. Flanker Adam Morad had a couple of nice runs, and bowled over a few Grizzlies for his try early in the second.
Inside centre Josh Cooper was Vernon’s Man of the Match, and was tough to bring down.
The 1-3 Jackals battle the 3-0 Harlequins, Saturday, May 26 in Penticton. The Grizz are 2-1.
Meanwhile, in high school rugby action, the Kalamalka Lakers bowed 28-7 to the Okanagan Mission Huskies of Kelowna Thursday.
OKM opened scoring from a lineout inside the Kal 22-metre line. Despite repeated forays into the Huskies’ 22, the Lakers were unable to score until the last play before the half. The front row of Sam Braun, Ian Gotobed and Sam Findlater overpowered the OKM front row, which allowed 8-man Nathan Meyer to score an easy pick-and-go try. Derek Huisken converted the try.
In the second half, the Huskies put across two quick tries early to put the game out of reach, and added another try at the final whistle.
The Lakers played Pleasant Valley Saints Monday, and will await the outcome of the PVSS – Kelowna Christian Knights game on Tuesday to determine whether they make the playoffs. If so, they play Thursday.