Two Earl Marriott Secondary rugby sides are set to hit the pitch in Abbotsford Wednesday, during BC High School Boys Rugby Championships.
For Marriott’s senior boys, the game – 2 p.m. against Langley’s R.E. Mountain Secondary – will mark the opening game of the tournament, while the juniors will play a semifinal tilt in the morning.
The junior Mariners opened their provincial tournament Saturday in Kelowna, beating the Kelowna Owls 55-7.
The one-day trip to the Okanagan “went great” said EMS junior coach Bryn Johnson, who called the lopsided victory “a total team win.”
“We just played solid, mistake-free rugby,” he said. “It was nice to get the (first-round) jitters out, and get that nervous energy out, especially because we didn’t know anything about (our opponents). We were kind of going into the unknown up there.”
Prior to facing the Mariners, the Kelowna squad had not lost a game all season, Johnson said, and routinely defeated opponents by scores similar to what they lost by Saturday.
In Wednesday’s semifinals, the junior Mariners will face a familiar foe – the Abbotsford Senior Secondary Panthers – for the second time in a week. Abby earned a spot in the semis after an upset victory Saturday over the higher-ranked Carson Graham Eagles.
The other provincial semifinal, which will also be played Wednesday, is an all-Island matchup between Shawnigan Lake and Victoria’s St. Michael’s.
Though EMS has defeated Abby twice this season, Johnson said he cautioned his team against thinking that another win is all but guaranteed – especially considering their victory in last week’s Fraser Valley final required a late-game comeback.
“It was a real tough start for us (last week), in those first four, five minutes,” Johnson explained.
“We’ve been a bit of a powerhouse this year, so we weren’t used to playing from behind, but the boys battled through it, and it was nice to see them handle that kind of adversity that they really haven’t had to deal with before.”
A year after not even coming within a stone’s throw of a provincial berth – they finished the season with a 1-7 win-loss record – Earl Marriott’s senior girls team finished fourth at triple-A provincial championships last weekend in Williams Lake.
The Mariners won their first game of the tournament Thursday afternoon, 24-5 over Cowichan, which set them up for a Day 2 matchup against the Carson Graham Eagles. In that match, held Friday afternoon, the North Vancouver-based Eagles won 35-12, which sent EMS into the third-place game.
On the final day of competition, Marriott lost 28-14 to the Yale Lions, to finish fourth. In the championship game, Shawnigan Lake defeated Carson Graham.