Mariners win fourth straight Sandcastle Cup
The Sandcastle Cup is staying put for another year.
The Earl Marriott Mariners successfully defended the senior boys rugby title Tuesday, after a 67-7 drubbing of the crosstown rival Semiahmoo Totems at South Surrey Athletic Park.
After a two-decade run in which the Totems won the annual high-school grudge match 19 times out of 20, the Mariners have now won the last four.
But despite the lopsided result – which has been the case in three of the four Marriott victories – EMS coach Adam Roberts is not taking the wins for granted.
“Semi’s going to keep working, and they’ll be back at the top soon enough, we all know that,” said Roberts, a former Totems captain during the school’s run of Sandcastle victories in the late 1990s. “We’re on a bit of a streak right now, but Semi was on a really long streak before that, so we know how quickly things can change.
“They’re still up 19 to five in this game, so we’re still pretty far away from even coming close to what they’ve got.”
In front of hundreds of fans – many of whom were more reserved than in years’ past but still painted in school colours – the Mariners jumped on the Totems early, scoring a handful of tries in the opening minutes to open up a 19-0 lead midway through the first half.
The Mariners tacked on two more majors before the first half clock expired, and entered the break up 33-0.
The scoring line was much the same in the second half of the contest, with Marriott controlling much of the play, building up to a 58-0 lead.
Early in the second, Semiahmoo had the chance to break through into the end zone, but were stuffed by the EMS line on repeated attempts to push the ball across the line.
The Totems finally broke the offensive goose egg – which, in Sandcastle Cup played, dated back to 2010 after a 28-0 shutout loss last year – with a late try, which was converted, to made the score 67-7.
Though they won handily, Roberts said his group still had room for improvement.
“I’m never completely happy with everything,” he said. “But for the first time all season, I thought our guys looked composed. We’ve had a couple big games this season where I thought we were a bit erratic, but we were better today. Still a few things to work on – there’s still some mental mistakes out there.”
Earl Marriott captain Quinton Willms led the victors with six converts and one try, which came via a long run in the second half.
The Mariners, No. 4 in B.C. AAA rankings, entered Tuesday’s tilt coming off a disappointing 23-22 loss to No. 2 Oak Bay last week, and the sting from that loss – which Roberts called “gutting” – helped spur the team’s attack against the Totems.
“We were pretty angry about that loss, because we thought we were a better team than Oak Bay – we just killed ourselves with penalties – so we came in here and really wanted to have a better game, and we were able to take it to them,” said Marrriott’s Nathan Muir.
The fans – most of whom lined the slope just west of the pitch – also provided motivation, said another EMS player.
“Most of the people here who come out to watch, they don’t know about the rankings, or don’t care about how it works,” said Bobby Devaney. “This is the provincial final to them – they don’t care if we beat Oak Bay, they care if we beat Semiahmoo.”