Clearwater Secondary School boys rugby team made quite the comeback on Tuesday to earn a 22-17 win over Merritt, according to coach Gabe Francis.
“Merritt is a very physically imposing team, with lots of big forwards that run the ball with a lot of pace, looking for contact, but the Clearwater forwards refused to be intimidated,” he said.
Merritt struck early but Clearwater’s Nate Wadlegger ran in a try (the rugby equivalent of a touchdown) to tie the game up.
Merritt then scored two more tries to jump out ahead early in the second half, 17-5.
“Our boys wouldn’t give up on the game or each other and pressed hard for the last 25 minutes of the second half, not allowing Merritt into the Clearwater half of the field,” Francis reported. “The effort paid off – Jairus Bromley ran in a try and Nate Wadlegger added his second try of the game to tie the game with two minutes to go.”
With the game tied up, the referee indicated that time was about to expire and that the teams were entering the final sequence of play.
Raider Taylor Rhodes then picked up a fumbled ball in open field and blew through three Merritt defenders to score the winning try.
“High drama and another great team effort,”: was how the coach described the game’s ending.
The CSS rugby boys team is in rugby fest in Kamloops this weekend playing teams from Williams Lake, Smithers, and Eagle Butte (Alberta).
They will host Westsyde next Friday after school. Winner of that game will be the regular season champion for the Thompson region and earn the top seed in the zone for playoffs.
“Westsyde is coming off a two-point victory over Merritt so we are expecting a very very tough match up,” Francis said.