Small-squad Drillers come up big
Rugby: Late try gives Oilfields girls victory in High River
Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 06:00 am
There’s not a lot to spare with the Oilfields Drillers girls rugby team.
The Drillers took the minimum 15-player squad to High River and downed the Highwood Mustangs 28-24 on an Ashlynn Matthews try with three minutes left in the match on April 12 in both teams’ opening game of the Big Sky Rugby Union season.
It was the first and only time the Drillers had led the game.
“We just never gave up — we just kept pushing,” said Drillers coach Jocelyn Aubrey. “We only had 15 girls and we played amazing. We had faith in each other and pushed hard. That is why we were able to come back.”
Oilfields was able to move the ball downfield and forced a scrum in the final four minutes, approximately seven yards from paydirt.
Driller Sandra Unrau picked up the ball and was able to bulldoze her way to the three-yard line. Before she hit the ground, Unrau made a determined if not-pretty pitch to Matthews who was following the play.
Matthews went in for the winning try.
Ball possession was the key to the Drillers’ finally taking possession of the scoreboard, according to Aubrey.
“We were able to keep possession of the ball for most of the game — that is our number one thing is having possession of the ball and just keep pushing forward — keep pushing our forwards in and then get it to our backs,” Aubrey said.
The Mustangs had taken a 5-0 lead in opening minutes before the Drillers Willow McDonald scored her first of three trys on 23-scamper to tie things at 5-5.
Then the Drillers got hit by a Highwood Mustang coach Bill Young trademark.
With the play at about midfield, the Mustangs pooched punted over the mass of players. Mustangs speedster Emma Nickerson picked up the ball and ran into the tryzone. She placed the ball dead centre for the easy convert and a 12-5 lead.
However, McDonald would strike again in what was her first high school rugby game.
The Grade 11 student took a pitch from Matthews and went in from about seven yards out to trim the Mustangs lead to 12-10 at the half.
The two teams would exchange two trys each in the second half as the Mustangs had the slim 24-22 lead late in the game, setting up the Drillers’ late winning charge.
McDonald said the Drillers never gave up.
“We did what we had to do — just thought about running and going forward,” she said. “I just thought about not getting tackled and just run.”
The Foothills Falcons were able to get the season off to a good start with a 35-0 shutout against the Strathmore Spartans on April 12 in Strathmore.
The Holy Trinity Academy Knights weren’t quite as lucky.
They dropped a 19-5 decision to a split-squad of Bow Valley/Cochrane schools in Cochrane on April.
The girls won’t be taking the pitch next week due to the Easter break.
Okotoks area action will resume when the Drillers visit HTA on April 26 at 6:30 p.m.