ABBOTSFORD — They celebrated a program first knowing full well that their future is bright.
With a starting XV boasting 14 Grade 11 players along with its graduating senior captain Erik Niehbur, Surrey’s Earl Marriott Mariners are a juggernaut waiting to happen in 2020.
But forget about all of that. How about what they did Saturday?
“It was great to win it and come out and play with our Grade 12’s and send them off with a win,” admitted Takoda McMullin, who along with his equally-talented twin brother Talon combined to tally exactly half of the team’s points in a 46-19 win over Abbotsford’s Robert Bateman Timberwolves in the B.C. Triple A Tier 1 title game at Rotary Stadium.
The victory stood alone as the first-ever B.C. senior boys rugby title in EMS program history, despite the fact that for well over a decade, the Mariners have contended as a top-tier program against the elite of the province.
“We have always been the bridesmaids to Shawnigan Lake, and so it’s been a little challenging but we’ve had a good 15 years,” said head coach Adam Roberts. “Until today it has never fully come to fruition. We’ve always been on the other side of it.”
On Saturday, in the final rugby match of the entire B.C. high school season, the Mariners crossed over into another realm.
Showcasing the super-fast, super-fun style made possible because of the speed merchant factor supplied by the Brothers McMullin, Earl Marriott came back with panache after Robert Bateman’s George Piper found the try zone first.
Talon McMullin’s lengthy break to just inside the Bateman 22m-line looked extremely dangerous until he fell to the grass. Somehow, he had the presence of mind to send a blind pass right into the hands of teammate Sam LaRoue, and the No. 8 immediately tied the score at 5-5.
From that point, while the actual B.C. high school track championships were taking place in Kelowna, an eastern Fraser Valley version broke out at Rotary Stadium.
“We started out great with our forwards taking it to them and then all of a sudden they turned the tides with their two centres,” Bateman head coach Nathan Sagert explained of the McMullins. “Nos. 12 and 13 were great players. They were on another level today and they made things very difficult for our defence. Once they got two or three it was tough to slow those guys down.”
Takoda McMullin’s fluid 50m run made it 10-5, Talon McMullin went in from the wing to make it 17-5, Takoda then peeled off a 55m run for a 22-5 lead. Before the half, Keegan Aves and Matteo Ferreira added tries to make it 34-5 at the break.
And while Bateman showed huge pluck on second-half tries by Andreas Guzman and Sam Davenport to cut it to 34-19 with 16 minutes remaining, it was too little, too late.
Daniel Shay and then LaRoue with his second of the game, rounded out the scoring.
Takoda McMullin finished with two tries and four converts while Talon McMullin scored one, the duo accounting for 23 of the team’s 46 points.
The brothers also helped Earl Marriott win the B.C. boys Triple A volleyball championship at the Langley Events Centre in December.
“We grew up in a very athletic household, so playing multiple sports just helps you so much, and so it’s just amazing to win and have fun out there,” said Takoda McMullin.
“We’re hoping to have a really good (rugby) season next year,” he said, remaining with the sport of the moment. “A lot of us are going to try and put more weight on so we can become a more physical team. But overall, we’re such a tight group of guys that just love to play together.”
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