Despite a strong start to a highly anticipated game against their fiercest competitors in the league, the St. Albert Rugby Football Club’s (SARFC) premiere women’s team was not able to pull ahead.
St. Albert was outscored by the Leprechaun Tigers RFC – current league leader –with a 44-12 final score Thursday evening. The game went ahead despite the odd lightning bolt and very wet conditions.
Team captain Sydney De La Mare said she was disappointed with the results, but also pleased to close the gap with a team they have a history of losing against by large margins.
“We’ve played the LTs every year and we’ve usually taken a bit of a beating, and this game it definitely felt like we were with them, so like I said before, I feel as if we didn’t have those little mistakes it would’ve been a much closer game,” she said.
Last year, SARFC trailed the Lep/Tigers in 72-10 and 52-7 losses in the Alberta premier women’s division.
The first 10 minutes of Thursday's game were a call and answer between the two teams, with Taz Bricknell scoring SARFC’s first try. Winger Emily Dewitt got the team’s second and final try, which she also managed to convert, tying the score at 12-12.
That would be SARFC’s final try of the game, after which the Lep/Tigers pulled ahead of St. Albert. At halftime, SARFC was down 32-12.
However, in the second half, St. Albert’s strong defence held the Lep/Tigers at scoring only two tries. St. Albert managed to keep possession in the Lep/Tigers end for most of the game’s final 10 minutes, but just could not crash through their defensive line to score.
De La Mare said the final score did not reflect the way St. Albert played, and most of the Lep/Tigers' early tries were “just totally dumb mistakes” they capitalized on.
She added the LTs’ strength is in their forward pack, which SARFC has a hard time matching. Their plan to combat the Lep/Tiger’s fierce forward pack was to get ball in hand and move it out wide to the backs, who could then run the ball up field with speed.
Their plan was foiled by heavy rain just prior to the game, which made both the field and ball slippery. Moving the ball wide became much more difficult, De La Mare said.
“The conditions weren’t great, it was definitely a lot tougher to get the ball out when it was soaking wet, so didn’t really play in our favour,” she said.
SARFC outside centre Brie Gray said the team’s backs came into the game aiming to be better than they were last year.
“I think we’re a better competitor for them this year,” she said. “There were moments where we did really, really well but then they also showed us what we need to work on and where we need to be more consistent with how we play.”
St. Albert came out strong and played to their systems, but a couple of quick tries got into SARFC’s head, Gray said, which caused a failure in their systems.
“It’s the first time playing them and so now we know where we need to be when we come back and play them again,” she said.