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Game Summary: OKM vs McRoberts for 5th in BC

Date: June 6, 2012

Author: Mike Ross


The OKM Huskies took to the field at the BC high school provincials and wrote themselves into the history books. In the history of the tournament the best finish for an Okanagan side was 7th in the AA competition. On Saturday morning the Huskies played Hugh McRoberts of Richmond for 5th/6th place in the province.

The match started with high intensity and determination. Both teams had excellent seasons that started with tours to Ireland and culminated with this final game. Many senior boys were playing in their final high school match and they realized what was on the line.

The first fifteen minutes were an even contest. The Huskies showed great tactics and ball control, linking together long stretches of hammer ball and wide play. This game was about possession and the maturity of the Huskies team held the ball well under pressure. The McRoberts squad had power up front and a deadly fullback; the Huskies defence was challenged but held firm as a system.  

Around 20 minutes into the first half, Senior #2 Andrew Barr pressured their #10 off a ruck, created a turnover, recovered the ball and danced between three or four defenders for a tally between the posts.  After a Trevor Swaisland covert the Huskies were up 7-0. The underdog Huskies were controlling the match and the McRoberts side showed signs of fragmentation.

Five minutes later, Alex Ballingall picked up from #8 man.  The sequence began at center field, about 50 yards out. Alex fed the ball to Captain Sam Overton, playing flanker and hitting the pass at full pace. In signature Sam style, he exploded into contact and broke the first tackle. The rear defence pinched in to slow the bruising runner but not before he off-loaded to Andrew Barr in brilliant support of his long time teammate. Batman and Robin were together again and the Huskies were up 14-0 at the half.

The second half started where the Huskies finished the first. After a strategic kick to the corner by Riley Ledwon, the Huskies pursued and caused a held-up mall and were awarded a scrum on the 5m line. In a beautiful display of cool heads at the goal line, the forwards hammered 7-8 times at the defence and eventually Marc Bettner, the imported German National player, crossed the line between the posts - a true team try.  Swaisland converted to pull ahead 21-0.

For the remaining time the intensity never waned. McRoberts ran everything at the Huskies and did manage to get over the line with about 8 minutes remaining. The final minutes were nail-biting as the pressure mounted but the experience of the veteran players held firm. Multiple players were gutting through injuries as this was their 4th match in 7 days and by the end of the game there were no reserves left. Every lad was put to the test and the result was a victory for these newly forged men.

It was evident that the coaching of Steve Doyle and Chuck Bullock took this team to the next level. Their rucking and counter-rucking skills controlled the flow of the game. The penetrating runs by dynamic forwards were expertly supported and quick ball was produced for the next phase. The team played to its strengths and was fit enough to mandate the game tempo. Their defence was disheartening to the opposing side, as the unity of purpose and guts and determination to the cause were unassailable.

History is never made on easy street. This team has been supported by many to make this moment possible. Sue Overton and Di Ballingall stepped up as team managers. Carson Park, a OKM RFC alumni, trained the boys in the gym from early March. Ryan Holly, Blain Wright and Michael Ross coached the squad in previous years and orchestrated the tour to Ireland. The parent support to the cause was tremendous and many sacrifices were made. The support of CORE members to build infrastructure and create momentum for the sport has also contributed to this success. Finally the work of the Bob Callahan and the Walls family to build a legacy for honouring rugby excellence at OKM demonstrates that a common cause can bring unity to a community.

In the end, the Huskies won the day 21-7 and the rest, as they say...... is history.

 
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