Quick start keeps Lions in top-spot
Rugby: Foothills wins third straight with 32-7 triumph of Calgary Irish
Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 06:00 am
A swift start ensured there was no luck of the Irish on this day.
The Foothills Lions scored early and often to take the wind out of the sails of the host Calgary Irish in a 32-7 decision on Saturday to extend their winning streak to a season-high three games and solidify first place in the Calgary Rugby Union.
“The past three games we’ve scored real early and real quick and that’s set us up on the front foot and allowed us to play more comfortable,” said Lions back Jarrett Richardson.
“If they have the first points it could have been a different game. It was fantastic to get the first points again.”
Richardson’s legs put the Lions up early. After Foothills held off the Irish with a tremendous defensive stand, Lions captain Spencer Watkins forced a turnover leading to an 80-yard scamper down the left flank on the counter from the fleet-footed back.
“It was through the hands. Spencer Watkins to Nathan (Marquardt) and he drew the inside guy and created a gap for myself and I just had the wheels to burn,” said Richardson, sporting a beard that would make Zeus blush. “The gap opened up and I took it.
“There was a lot of space out there, we utilized our kicks and just overall our fitness.”
Foothills doubled its money minutes later as it patiently waited for a hole before Watkins made one of his own and rumbled into the try-zone for a five-yard score. On the subsequent kick-off scrum-half Reid Watkins broke free down the left wing and found Marquardt in support for a backbreaking try for the dejected Calgary club.
Ball-hawk Blake Barnert added to the host’s misery with a late score as he was first to pounce on a dropped ball on a lineout and sprinted in for a 15-yard scamper to paydirt.
The Irish got on the board late in the second-half when they took advantage of a Lions’ miscue at midfield. Foothills atoned for the mistake mere moments later as Richardson dashed forward and dove in between the pipes to put the ball just inches over the line for his second score of the contest.
“The ball was at my feet, I picked it up and gave a little step and everybody drew to the left side,” he said. “Then I just had to a free run under the posts.”
Barnert would complete the scoring with his uncanny knack for finding a loose ball creating yet another score for the versatile Lion to cap the 25-point triumph.
Seventeen-year-old Cody Thompson, Foothills Composite’s 2014 Grade 12 male athlete of the year, made an impressive debut at the Senior men’s level for the Lions on Saturday.
“(Coach Jim Ryan) was telling me you’ve got to play fast, got to play hard and step up and put lots of pressure on their 10,” said Thompson, who captained the Foothills Falcons rugby club this season. “The guys (here) are better, the competition is better. It definitely brings up my level.”
The hard-hitting forward, whose been playing this summer with the U18 Lions, was named man-of-the-match as a disruptive force at the flanker position.
The convincing victory extended the Lions’ winning streak to three games, improved the second division side’s mark to 5-3, already matching last season’s wins total, and kept Foothills tops in the Calgary Rugby Union.
“It’s a good feeling,” Richardson said. “It’s been a long time coming, trying to build a team and it’s nice to finally see it come full circle and we’re first in the league now.”
Foothills will look to maintain its hold atop the CRU when it faces the Calgary Canucks on Saturday at Calgary Rugby Park. Kick-off is 1:45 p.m.
It will be the first meeting of the season between the clubs.
For more information go to foothillslionsrugbyclub.com