There is only one winless St. Albert team left in high school men’s rugby after Monday’s showdown between the Paul Kane Blues and SACHS Skyhawks.
“This victory definitely takes a lot of pressure off us,” said Brett Trudel, a Grade 12 standoff and third-year Paul Kane player, after the 29-15 decision.
Both teams were struggling at 0-3 in the north pool and are destined to compete in the metro Edmonton city conference playoffs.
“As a team we’ve been progressing every game,” said Trudel, 18, one of two reliable kickers on the Blues. “It’s going to be exciting in the playoffs to see what we can do.”
Paul Kane led 7-0 after the first quarter, 14-10 at halftime and 24-10 after three quarters.
“Both teams really came out to play. It was a good game,” Trudel said.
Josh Grasser (10th minute of play to open the scoring), Craig Kerswell, Lachlin Johnston, Brayden Switner and Trent Schneider produced tries for Paul Kane.
“Everyone was showing a lot of heart out there,” Trudel said. “Talking and teamwork was the key to victory.”
Replying for the Skyhawks were Jackson Wenger and Mike McConkey in the second quarter and Mitch Roth in the fourth quarter.
The Skyhawks are back on the pitch after a one-year absence because of a lack of players in 2009.
“SACHS did a really good job. They gave us a tough time,” Trudel said.
Paul Kane was plagued by penalties with three players sentenced to the sin-bin for a variety of dirty deeds. During a stretch in the second quarter the Blues were short two players with infractions. The Skyhawks capitalized for a try with one Paul Kane player off to cut the deficit to 7-5 and added their second try with two Blues off the pitch to trail by four.
League play wraps up today before the playoffs scrum down. The Skyhawks hook up with the Bellerose Bulldogs (1-3) in what should be a physical affair and Paul Kane lines up against the O’Leary Spartans (3-1). Kickoff times are 4:45 p.m. at the St. Albert Rugby Football Club.
As for the playoff format, the top three teams in the north and south pools qualify for the premier bracket and the rest of the teams compete for the city title. The opening round in the city playoffs goes next Wednesday and features the fifth- and sixth-place teams while the fourth-place squad has the bye. The semifinals are May 31 and the city final is June 2 at 6:30 p.m. at Ellerslie Rugby Park.
Last year Paul Kane finished 1-5 overall as city finalists after going 0-4 in league play.
“We’re ready to take on any team now,” Trudel said.