VANCOUVER — The Shawnigan Lake Stags almost let some mental lapses torpedo their bid for a fourth straight B.C. senior boys top-tiered high school rugby championship.
Their dynasty, however, has lived to see another day, and it comes in the form of a date in Friday’s 5:30 p.m. B.C. AAAA championship final against Victoria’s Oak Bay Barbarians, the same team which upset them last week in the Vancouver Island final.
Shawnigan Lake rallied in the dying stages Wednesday to defeat Vancouver’s St. George’s Saints 31-24 at Abbotsford’s Rotary Stadium
“I just told the kids I was proud of the way they reacted to the lead St. George’s took,” said Stags’ head coach Tim Murdy, whose team closed out the match with a pair of unconverted tries by fullback James MacDonald and inside centre Ciarnan Breen, the latter counting three tries on the day.
“We’re up 21-10 at the half and I am telling the boys it’s not enough to win,” continued Murdy. “Then true to form, Saints come back and they take the lead.”
St. George’s, in fact, looked like they had fallen into too deep an abyss over the first half, falling behind 21-3 before they knew what hit them.
Yet Ethan Jaques scored a converted try that made it 21-10 at the break, giving the Lower Mainland champs some second-half hope.
Thomas Kirkwood, the team’s ace kicker who had not only converted Jaques’ try but added a first-half penalty, then opened the second half with a try of his own which he converted to pull his team to within 21-17.
Then, with Stags’ scrum half Carter Miller still in the sin bin, Jaques added his second try of the game.
When Kirkwood booted the convert, St. George’s had come all the way back to lead 24-21.
“We didn’t help with our penalties and we will address it,” promised Murdy. “It was a nail-biter and I am proud of the way the guys came back to win.”
The Stags opened their 21-3 lead behind two tries from Breen and another by Reese Tudor-Jones.
A Shawnigan Lake win Friday over Oak Bay would give the Stags nine B.C. titles in the past 11 seasons.
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