For the Robert Bateman Timberwolves, climbing to unprecedented heights required a dynasty-toppling performance.
The T-Wolves senior boys rugby team secured the first Fraser Valley AAA championship in program history on Wednesday, rallying from a 10-point first-half deficit to knock off the Earl Marriott Mariners 24-15.
The South Surrey-based Mariners have been the Valley’s Goliath in recent years – they’d won the last five AAA regional titles dating back to 2009.
But after falling behind 15-5 in the first 25 minutes of the game, Bateman scored 19 unanswered points en route to victory.
“We’ve won the AA (Valleys) a number of times, but never the AAA,” enthused Stephen Rowell, who co-coaches the T-Wolves boys with Dave Chambers. “In the 20th anniversary year of the school, it’s quite a feat to achieve.”
After Bateman’s Austen Zacher opened the scoring with a try, the Mariners reeled off 15 consecutive points to take control.
But the T-Wolves rallied on a pair of tries by Kolby Steen bookending halftime, a late try by Josh Thiel, and two converts from Gavin Rowell.
Rowell lauded the way his team dug in defensively after falling behind early, led by the likes of Kurtis Kirschner, Gerrin Tram and Pascal Schella.
“We started getting some opportunities and scored, and our defence stepped up to stop their attack,” Rowell noted.
“It was an awesome game to watch, it really was,” Marriott coach Adam Roberts told the Peace Arch News. “It was just the tale of two halves . . . Bateman has three very high-end players, and they just carried them to the win.
“Their kicking game was sensational. Every time we made a mistake in their zone, they’d boot us back deep into our end and we’d have to start over.”
• The Yale Lions also climbed the podium on Wednesday – they knocked off Lord Tweedsmuir 26-22 on the road in Surrey in the AAA bronze medal game. Travis Murray and Noah Bain notched tries, while Surge Francis accounted for 15 points via kicks.
“We played a good team game – the backs and forwards both played well, and our defence was pretty good,” said Lions coach Doug Primrose, whose team joins the T-Wolves at provincials. “It was one of our better games of the season so far.”
• On the AA scene, the Rick Hansen Hurricanes boys fell 29-24 on Tuesday to Southridge in the Valley bronze medal game. Kirat Bhadesha and Alex Ho were among the standouts for the Hurricanes, who also advance to the B.C.’s.
“I just want the boys to put forth a solid effort and leave everything on the field,” Hansen coach Nathan Sagert said, looking ahead to provincials. “For a lot of them, it’s the last time they’ll play a high school sport with their friends.”
• First-round provincial games will be held at a trio of locations across B.C. on May 24, with the balance of the AAA and AA tourneys running May 28, 29 and 31 at Abbotsford’s Exhibition Park.