Royals win battle over Nighthawks

Christopher Cameron
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Cameron scores pair of trys in Northumberland loss

ALMA – Never give up.

Northumberland Nighthawk Isabel Bennett looks for space during NSSAF girls rugby action against the J.H. Gillis Royals Tuesday afternoon in Alma. The Nighthawks fell 15-10 to the Royals. Northumberland plays again Friday against North Nova, while the Gryphons play today against J.H. Gillis.

That was the Northumberland Nighthawks motto – or at least it seemed to be – during Tuesday’s girls rugby game at home against the J.H. Gillis Royals. With just two minutes remaining in the game Maggie MacCarron scored her second try of the game for the Royals to give them a 15-10 lead.

Although the game was all but over the Nighthawks didn’t stop working and fought for every inch of the field until the final whistle blew. Coach Laura Vermeulen said the team was obviously disappointed, but there were a lot of positives to be taken out of their game, including their first two trys of the season.

“Once you feel that try, once you’ve got to the other end and had that try it picks you up, so that’s another positive thing for us,” she said. “You’ve worked together for the last 15 minutes or whatever it is – in the freezing cold and the mud – to get there as a team to make it over that line. I’m very pleased and I know the girls that were there on the field at the time were very happy about it.”

MacCarron opened the scoring 10 minutes into the game for the Royals, but four minutes later Skylar Cameron scored her first of two trys for Northumberland in the game.

The teams stayed tied 5-5 heading into halftime as neither made their convert.

Cameron scored next for the Nighthawks, 16 minutes into the second half, to give them a 10-5 lead and cap off a long possession deep in Royals territory.

With just five minutes left in the game Rachel Bekkers tied the game. MacCarron scored just minutes later as she broke from the Nighthawks backs and brought the ball to the centre of the Northumberland try area to break the 10-10 tie.

Although the final result wasn’t what the team wanted, Vermeulen said her team has a lot of new players and they are moving in the right direction. She said yesterday that they were hitting hard, tackling better and improved their communication.

Those things, plus the basic skills needed to play the game, will be what they continue to work on in practice in coming weeks.

“What happens if you haven’t played rugby before – and it takes a really long time – is not to be focused on the ball, but focused on your position and know where you have to be,” said Vermeulen. “It’s really just a repetitive thing that we need to practise over and over again, being in the same spot, in your position and doing what you’re supposed to be doing.”

On top of the team having a lot of new players, this is the first year of coaching rugby for Vermeulen. She said it has been a learning experience in more ways than one. Being an experienced back player she hasn’t played much as a forward, so she has had to get help with coaching the forwards.

“In the past I’ve played a lot of rugby, but not necessarily played in the forwards,” she said. “I’m learning just as much as the girls and as a coaching experience I couldn’t ask for anything better. I always thought that playing rugby was the end-all and be-all, but coaching is just on a completely different level because I get to see the potential in the girls and have them out in the field and get them to love the sport.

“It’s just a fantastic group of girls here and they’re just as patient with me as I am with them, so I’m really appreciative for that.”

Northumberland’s girls team plays again on Friday in New Glasgow against North Nova. North Nova plays against J.H. Gillis today at home.

On Thursday afternoon the Gryphons and Nighthawks boys teams play in New Glasgow.

All games are scheduled to start at 4 p.m.

On Twitter: @NGNewsChris

Geographic location: Royals territory, New Glasgow, North Nova

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