ABBOTSFORD — The Shawnigan Lake Stags didn’t need any cues to ignite their attack on Thursday, their 108-13 win over Surrey’s Earl Marriott Mariners a reminder to everyone just who the No. 1 program in the province is.
Vancouver’s St. George’s Saints, however, needed a wake-up call before they turned on the jets to dispatch the Oak Bay Barbarians of Victoria 39-11 in the second of two top-tiered Quad A semi-finals, setting the stage for a 1 p.m. final on Saturday.
Oak Bay’s Jim Newman pulled the Barbarians within 15-11 early in the second half when he broke open field tackles and turned on the after-burners as part of an 80-metre try.
The Saints’ response?
Four straight tries, the fourth of which was followed by a torrential downpour which sent onlookers at Rotary Stadium scurrying for cover.
“I think it’s all about believing in your team,” said St. George’s Jose Perez Franco, who not only opened the scoring with a try, but closed out the team’s second-half run with another.
“There’s ups and downs in a game, but as a team it’s all about getting back up. In that moment Oak Bay scored that long try against us, that is a defining moment in a game. Either you go down and give up, or you stand up and turn your team around.”
St. George’s, a history will show, chose the latter.
Noah King found his way to goal near the try line, Connor Jacques did the same before Chris Kwon and Perez Franco each added their second tries of the game to round out the scoring.
Oak Bay’s Jack Carson had booted a penalty to open the scoring and another to later pull his team to within 12-6 but Jack Scher also booted a penalty to put Saints up 15-6 at halftime, while also kicking four converts.
“We really preach defence and when it is focused so much around pressure, sometimes (the opposition) will hit a gap, and they hit a gap,” Saints’ coach Bill Chamberlain said of the Newman try. “I’m sure we’ll see that when we watch film and learn from it. The key for us was the pace of the defence, we push it to see if other teams can keep up with us. I think we showed as the game wore on, our defence improved as (Oak Bay) kind of ran out of breath.”
Saints gave Shawnigan Lake a mighty battle in last season’s final, but the Stags look as imposing as ever.
“I feel like we haven’t played our best rugby yet, so I am hoping our boys will rise to the occasion,” said Chamberlain, “but we will have to tackle for the whole game.”
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