Wyatt Chatrell dives toward the try line late in the first half of the Cowichan Thunderbirds’ win over Belmont at Shawnigan Lake School on Wednesday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

T-Birds make the leap into rugby provincials

Strong first half helps Cowichan beat Belmont Bulldogs

A huge first half on Wednesday propelled the Cowichan Secondary Thunderbirds past the Belmont Bulldogs and into the provincial senior boys rugby championships.

The T-Birds scored four tries in the first 40 minutes to take a 26-0 lead into the break, then cruised to a 40-15 final tally.

The first try came after the T-Birds moved the ball swiftly across the pitch and into the hands of Grade 11 winger Nic Gurzinski, who touched down in the corner, with Justin Marinier kicking the conversion. Quick Grade 12 fly-half Logan Kits was responsible for the next two tries, the second of which was converted.

“Logan controlled the game well and was devastating with ball in hand,” Cowichan head coach Tom Fogarty said.

The last try of the first half was scored by Grade 11 blindside flanker Wyatt Chatrell, who took advantage of a turnover in the scrum.

Belmont came back firing in the second half, scoring an unconverted try after multiple picks around the ruck in Cowichan’s defensive zone. The T-Birds replied with two more tries: one from standout No. 8 Dylan Taylor after a powerful run from the halfway line, and the other from captain and inside centre Griffin Diaczuk, with Marinier converting both.

Belmont was able to add two more unconverted tries through their forward pack after Cowichan’s replacements came on.

Notable players for the T-Birds who didn’t otherwise crack the scoresheet were Grade 10 outside centre Clayton Bergstrom, who made several cross-cover try-saving tackles and moved the ball well, and Reid Hebbert, who dominated lineouts and was effective all over the field.

The T-Birds will head to the provincial AAA championships in Abbotsford next week.

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