Getting into this weekend’s Harris Memorial Cup provincial final was as much about survival for the Velox Valkyries women’s rugby team as it was about conquering a demon.
On Saturday (April 30) in North Vancouver, the Valkyries shook two previous losses to Capilano, the defending provincial champs, and beat them on their own turf 26-20.
With the win, Velox (5-4) will face undefeated Burnaby Lake (9-0) in the first of three provincial rugby championships at Klahanie Park on Saturday.
“Burnaby is good, tops in the league, and all 15 Velox players need to be at their best,” Bill Meechan said.
The coach came aboard part way through last season and has seen Velox’s women’s program grow to two teams this year for the first time ever. The Valkyries and second division Velites train together before splitting off to run game plays.
“This year is a strong year for Velox ladies.”
In the only meeting between the Valkyries and Burnaby this year the latter won 21-5. High-powered Burnaby twice scored 70 points in games and hit 60 points once this season.
“Considering the scores they put on everybody else, we did fairly well,” Meechan said.
Like Velox, Burnaby features plenty of national team players. But injuries have kept some of Velox’s top players out. National front rower Marlene Donaldson made her first appearance with Velox against Capilano after a lengthy layoff and is a boost in all aspects of the game,” Meechan said.
“Burnaby has international players we’ll have to be aware of but they key is in retaining possession.
“We’ll have a good go at them and try to put them under pressure from the start. We need to run at them, take them on right away.”
One player Meechan is impressed with is captain Sarah Levson.
“She’s a running fly half who’s really taken off for Velox after playing some other positions,” Meechan said. “She’s a great leader, great at breaking the line and we’ll need her to be at top of her game.”
The fact the Vahalians are playing their third game at Capilano’s Klahanie Park since April 16 adds familiarity to the game-day travel routine.
“Thee whole structure of Capilano is intimidating.
“The team and clubhouse are well organized, it is like an old English rugby club,” Meechan said.
“We’re still in their venue but they’ll be there watching us instead of playing.”
To right the ship against Capilano, Velox adapted with better physical play in the contact point between phases and better defence by doubling up on tackles.