Port Alberni Black Sheep team up to take down a UVic player during BC Rugby Action in Port Alberni on Feb. 5. (SONJA DRINKWATER / SPECIAL TO THE NEWS)

Port Alberni Black Sheep team up to take down a UVic player during BC Rugby Action in Port Alberni on Feb. 5. (SONJA DRINKWATER / SPECIAL TO THE NEWS)

Port Alberni Black Sheep fall to UVic in spring rugby opener

Port Alberni team ‘shaking off the rust’ after Christmas break

The Port Alberni Black Sheep Rugby Club is back on the pitch for the spring rugby season.

The Black Sheep opened the spring rugby season at home with a 31-19 loss against the University of Victoria on Saturday, Feb. 5. UVic opened the scoring on a converted try after a turnover. Although the Black Sheep took a 12-7 lead, the team got a “little loose” in the last 15 minutes of the first half, said head coach Jas Purewal, and the halftime score was 21-12 in favour of UVic.

UVic came out and scored right away to start the second half, and although the Black Sheep pressed hard, UVic ultimately came up with the win. Scorers for the Black Sheep were Asa Rokotuiwakaya (two tries) and Cody McClary, with conversions from Duncan McLeod and Ty Shannon.

Purewal said he was pleased overall with his team’s performance.

“I thought we played very well,” he said. “We did a good job of controlling the game, but UVic lived on scraps. Every time we made a mistake, they punished us dearly.”

He attributed some of these mistakes to “shaking off the rust” after the Christmas break, as the Black Sheep haven’t played a game since November.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team’s schedule has been split into two halves. The first half took place in the fall, with the Black Sheep competing for the Times Cup. The Black Sheep had a “slow start” to fall rugby play, losing their first four games and winning the last four. The Times Cup ultimately went to the Cowichan Piggies in a final against the Castaway Wanderers.

The second half of the schedule, starting in February, will see the Black Sheep playing in an 18-team B.C. league, with every club playing eight games. The top eight seeds will move on to the playoffs in April.

“It’s a pretty ruthless season,” Purewal said. “We can’t afford to have a couple of bad weekends.”

Despite the schedule, Purewal says the team is “pretty excited” to be back out on the pitch playing games. He expects the Black Sheep to have a deep bench for the spring season.

The team will travel to Nanaimo on Feb. 12 for a game against the Hornets, followed by a break over Family Day long weekend. The Black Sheep will be back at home on Feb. 26 for a game against Bayside.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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