Earl Marriott Mariners, Saints set for rugby rematch
The Earl Marriott Mariners senior boys rugby team has a quarter-final date with an old foe Wednesday, after an impressive win last weekend in the first round of BC High School AAA Rugby Championships.
Saturday at Vancouver Island’s Brentwood College, the fifth-seeded Mariners knocked off No. 12 Cowichan by a 61-0 score and now move on to face the No. 4 seed St. George’s Saints tomorrow at Abbotsford’s Rotary Stadium.
“That was probably out best win of the season, the most comprehensive,” said Earl Marriott coach Adam Roberts.
“The province is becoming a lot more competitive – the No. 6 seed lost to the No. 11 on Saturday, and Yale (No. 9) lost to eight, so there’s no easy ones. You’ve got to make sure you’re coming out of the gate strong, and we were able to do that.”
All 16 teams were in action Saturday, as the first day of provincials were staged at locales throughout the province. In other AAA games, the 12th-seeded Semiahmoo Totems lost to St. George’s 82-5, thus setting up Wednesday’s quarter-final tilt.
Earlier this season, the Mariners lost 28-23 to St. George’s, and in the first round of B.C. championships last year, Marriott upset the higher-seeded Saints to advance.
“We have an awesome rivalry with them. It seems like every year for the last four, we’ve played them at least once of twice, and every game is decided by four or five points,” Roberts said.
If the Mariners are to send the Saints marching from contention for a second year in a row, they’ll not only have to continue scoring like they did against Cowichan – early and often – but also have to play tight defensively.
The Mariners have not allowed a point in their last two games, shutting out the Robert Bateman Timberwolves in the Fraser Valley final before Saturday’s result at Brentwood College.
“It’s huge. We’ve been preaching defence to our guys all season, and now they’ve really stepped up and it’s nice to see,” Roberts said. “Against Cowichan, we defended our goal line really well. We were strong across the board.”
Roberts was especially pleased with the defensive play of locks Doug Fairbank and Grade 11 Kai Duchnycz.
“Kai was coming forward and stuffing everyone at the goal line. Him and Doug, they were our engine back there,” the coach said.
Roberts also said Ian McMaster had “his best game of the season,” and helped EMS jump out to an early lead – the Mariners scored three times in the first seven minutes.
“Every time we touched the ball, we were electric… if we catch a team sleeping, we can have a go at anyone,” Roberts said.