Despite controlling much of the play, the D.W. Poppy Redhawks could not score enough points, falling 13-10 in overtime to the Southridge Storm.
The teams were playing in the Fraser Valley championship final for senior boys 2A rugby. The game was played on Wednesday afternoon at Abbotsford’s Rotary Stadium.
“The difference in the game was we couldn’t score on Southridge. They have a very strong defence,” said Poppy coach Kyle Barry.
“I give them full credit for stopping our track; they played a great defensive game.”
Despite the loss, Barry was happy with his team’s performance.
“We had the majority of the possession in the game moving the ball, winning scrums and counter rucking, but just couldn’t get to the try line,” he said.
The teams had also played in the first week of the regular season, with the Storm winning that contest 12-5.
Southridge was the top seed in the division while Poppy was second with a 5-2 record.
The Redhawks defeated Chilliwack’s Graham Grizzlies 37-12 in the semifinals last week while the Storm beat the Mountain Eagles in the other semifinal.
The Grizzlies beat the Eagles in the Fraser Valley third-place game and the top three teams were guaranteed spots at the provincial championships, which begin May 23.
Mountain did qualify for provincials, however, after defeating a team from the Okanagan, Clearwater-Barriere, 15-5 in a wildcard game.
Poppy, who won the Fraser Valley title in 2014 and finished eighth at provincials last year, has five returnees from that squad.
“I think they learned that this (Fraser Valleys and provincials) are a grind and having a full team is beneficial in the B.C.’s,” Barry said.
“The team also learned this year that rugby is more than just a game: it’s a family, and a brotherhood, and it’s been amazing to see them all become friends on and off the field.
“I think they have learned to play as a team and as a family.”
At the start of the year, the Redhawks had a pair of goals.
One of those was to win Fraser Valleys, which they came up short in.
But the other goal is still attainable: a top eight finish at provincials.
“Like I said to my guys today, myself and my fellow coaches are extremely proud of the year that we have put together so far and look forward to finishing the season at provincials,” Barry said.
To prepare for provincials — and to take advantage of the number of players they had — Poppy ran two senior teams: one which played in league and the other which was an exhibition team that faced 3A second division teams.
Barry likes his team chances to finish in the top half at provincials.
“Our team is very well-rounded; we have a solid group of forwards who all do their jobs and are strong tacklers and a back line that is good on both sides of the ball,” he said.
“We won our games by executing our game plan and grew stronger as the season continued.”