Colten Smith earned Man of the Match honours among the Cowichan backs in the Piggies’ Oct. 6 match against United. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan Piggies clipped by United late in First Division rugby match

Victory was within Piggies’ grasp, says coach

The Cowichan Piggies were edged 15-13 by United in their first match of the BC Rugby men’s Division 1 season on Sept. 29, but the loss should provide the team with motivation as the campaign moves forward.

“I think the guys were disappointed they didn’t get the win,” Cowichan coach Andrew Wright said. “Hats off to United for getting the win on the road. We are definitely looking forward to going over there and taking it to them next time on the Mainland.”

United — which represents Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody and New Westminster — scored a late try to clinch the win, but Cowichan wasn’t out of contention until the final whistle sounded.

“I felt it was definitely in our grasp to get a win,” Wright said.

Cowichan got the first points of the game on a penalty kick by Owen Wood, but the Piggies “lost [their] way” after that, Wright said. United scored a couple of tries, including one on a pushover scrum, the second time in two weeks that the Piggies gave up a try in that fashion.

“That was a pretty big boost for them,” Wright said. “And kind of depleting for us.”

The Piggies were issued a yellow card late in the first half, but weathered the storm and trailed just 10-3 at the break. Early in the second half, Blair Grant scored in the corner and Wood slotted the conversion to tie the game. Wood then slotted a penalty to give Cowichan a 13-10 lead. Play went back and forth after that, but eventually the Piggies made some handling errors, and United drew a penalty, kicked the ball down the field and scored in the corner.

“There wasn’t enough time left on the clock to fight back after that,” Wright lamented.

Although the Piggies’ short bench started to show when United was able to bring on subs late in the game, there were lots of things to be pleased with for the Cowichan players.

“Our defensive play was really good,” Wright said. “Better than the week before. That’s all you can ask for, really.”

Colten Smith and Robin Gusse were named Men of the Match, and got first pick of some Rugby Canada gear that was donated to the club.

“It keeps a kind of competition going amongst the boys,” Wright noted. “They want to do better and be the man chosen by their teammates.”

It was another close call for the Piggies, who were within two points this week after getting within four the week before.

“The boys are optimistic and I’m optimistic,” Wright said. “We’re focusing on the season as a whole and not each game, even though that was our first league fixture. You’ve got to look at it as a whole and look at how you can improve.”

With no game on the Thanksgiving weekend, the Piggies’ will return to action this Saturday when they host the Surrey Beavers at 12:30 p.m. Despite their geographic separation, the two clubs are developing a rivalry

“They’re a good, strong club,” Wright stated. “They just squeaked by us in the playoffs last year.”

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