Cowichan Secondary’s Macy Wiebe tries to escape the tackling efforts of Shawnigan’s Isabelle Oestereich (centre) and Kiara Stecko. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Shawnigan and Cow High battle for AAA title

Shawnigan takes the banner, both teams qualify for provincials

Due to a lack of opponents on Vancouver Island in the AAA girls rugby bracket, Shawnigan Lake School and Cowichan Secondary had to wait until last Thursday to play a truly meaningful game.

Prior to that, everything had been an exhibition for both teams in preparation for a match to determine the top seed from the Island in the upcoming provincial championships.

Shawnigan prevailed 65-7 in the game on Cow High’s home field, but the young Thunderbirds team had a lot to be proud of, according to coach Sherry Spence.

“The score line might say differently, but the girls really never gave up,” she said. “When we look at our team, more than half are Grade 9 and 10 students, and we don’t have the bench to sub our girls in and out. So when we think of it that way we couldn’t be more proud but also excited with the future of the team.”

T-Birds captain Melanie Robertson scored her team’s lone try late in the match, with a conversion by Kaitlyn Crichton.

Shawnigan got off to what coach Shannon Atkins felt was a slow start, but were firing on all cylinders after about five minutes.

“The girls were moving the ball fluidly and running strong support lines,” Atkins said. “Great moments came from quick rucks where the girls poached the ball, created a turnover and went on the attack again.”

The Shawnigan front row had a particularly memorable moment when prop Kiara Stecko broke the Cowichan line, then fed the ball to rookie hooker Anna Palmer on a perfect support line, and she offloaded to prop Hailey Stephens, who scored.

Stephens, Mikayla Brennan-McCann and Chloe Storie-Soth each scored twice, and Gracie MacAllister, Emily Findlay, Maria Guadarrama, Catherine Asche and Isabelle Oestereich had one try apiece, with Storie-Soth slotting two conversions and Gerry Atkins three.

Both Shawnigan and Cowichan will take part in the provincial championships hosted by Shawnigan and Brentwood College School on May 23-25.

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