RUGBY: SMUS, Oak Bay and GNS move to round two of provincials

Sir Charles Tupper captain (red) Brian Hong hangs on to Glenlyon Norfolk School's Hamish Bodnar during a game at St. Michaels University School. GNS won the match 11-10.

Gryphons rugby on the up-and-up

Looking to continue their ascension up the AA rugby ladder, the Glenlyon Norfolk School Gryphons edged Vancouver’s Sir Charles Tupper Tigers, 11-10, on Saturday.

The win puts the Gryphons through to the quarterfinals of the AA provincials for the second straight year.

“(Charles Tupper) were very a feisty, exciting team to watch who are well coached. It was a nail biter that could have gone either way,” GNS coach Winston Stanley said.

GNS took a 6-0 lead into halftime on penalty kicks by fly half Fergus Hall.

But it was “nothing to shout about.”

The Tigers roared back with two tries in second half and, if not for a standout effort by the standoff in the final 10 minutes, GNS would have fallen.

With 10 minutes remaining, Hall made a 60 metre break. Stanley credited Hall’s instincts. “Instead of just going for it he recognized the tacklers had his angle so he slowed up, absorbed the tackle, and was able to offload to Gabe Mullin.”

The talented Mullin, a latecomer to the team, used his blistering speed to dive over the line and retake the lead.

“We nearly gave the game away with two minutes left by losing line-outs (deep) in our zone but we were benefited by big defensive plays led by our wingers, Chris Oh and Eamon Lewis.

“Every one did well but there’s no taking away the presence of Hall.”

In addition to his offence, the Grade 11 student laid big hits on defence that turned the tide.

GNS will face Brentwood College in the quarterfinals of the AA provincials, beginning Wednesday (June 1) in Abbotsford.

It’s a rematch from last year when the Gryphons upset the highly ranked Brentwood team before falling to Collingwood in the quarter finals.

“We needed that game, a game that was full of adversity against an opponent we haven’t seen in a while,” Stanley said.

“If we’re going to win the BC’s, which is our dream, we’ll have to beat the Brentwoods,  Rockridges and Collingwoods.”

Academy calling

GNS grad Brandon Kelleher visited England last year to train for a week with the academy of pro rugby team Leicester Tigers. Winston Stanley was a member of the 2001 Tigers, which won the Heineken Cup as the top European club team.

Leicester invited Kelleher to stay for the winter. By season’s end, the 18-year-old was playing a regular role with the academy team.

Fly half a rally point for ’Barbs

The lowest point of the Oak Bay Barbarians’ season came before the first game.

Back in February scrum half Cole Braid was diagnosed with leukemia. That downturn has since become a rallying point for the team as Braid has responded positively to treatment.

On Saturday the Barbarians secured a spot in the quarterfinals of the AAA rugby provincials with a 39-7 win over Argyle in the first round of provincials, played at SMUS.

It wasn’t a strong start for the club, said coach Murray Allen, but the team righted itself despite a slim 10-7 lead at halftime.

Barbarians captain Luke Campbell was dominating in his role as eight man, as he’s been all season, driving over for four tries.

“Other coaches talk about him too, he impacts the game more than any player I can recall any player at Oak Bay in the past 10 years,” Allen said.

Aidan Jack and Keegan Reid each scored a try for the ’Barbs. Kimia Hamidi kicked three try converts and a penalty goal.

The win sets up a quarterfinals match against the Handsworth. Seeded 11th, the North Vancouver school upset the sixth-seeded Vanier (Courtenay) on Saturday.

“We’re looking forward to that,” Allen said.

“Handsworth has a big forward pack and are a solid team defensively. To beat Handsworth and the rest of the tournament we need to play the style we train with to be effective. Once we get away from it, we’re not nearly as good.”

Meanwhile the team continues to rally around Braid, who’s elder brother Connor was a Barbarian and is now in the mix for Rugby Canada. Cole attended Oak Bay’s graduation dinner and dance last week and is back at school in short periods.

“Braid is a fighter just like he is a fighter on the (rugby) field. Its an emotional factor for the team.”

Blue Jags face tough draw

Champions are crowned for a reason. If the St. Michaels University Blue Jags are going to make the B.C. rugby finals they’ll have to take out the defending champs and top-seeded Shawnigan Lake in the quarterfinals Wednesday.

SMUS (8th) hosted and defeated Robert Bateman (9th) 29-23 in round one of the AAA boys rugby provincials on Saturday.

The scoreline was much closer than the game as SMUS surrendered a late surge by Robert Batemen but it was too little too late for the Abbotsford visitors. The Blue Jags received another strong effort from speedy fly half Colin Smith as well as its best line-out of the year, said SMUS coach Eliot Anderson.

“I was also pleased with our ball retention which has been steadily improving,” a key to any team’s success on the rugby pitch.

 

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