North Nova too much for Northumberland in boys semifinal preview

Christopher Cameron
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ALMA – When yesterday’s grudge match between North Nova and Northumberland came to a close both boys teams knew they would be across from each other in a weeks time, but with more on the line – their season.

The Gryphons won the final regular season game for both boys teams 53-10, claiming the Pictou County Cup with a 2-0 record in their head-to-head matchup with the Nighthawks.

“It’s definitely a nice thing winning that two years in a row,” said North Nova co-captain Darryl Wheadon. “I got to be a part of the team both years and although we didn’t have it in Grade 10 it would’ve been fun to play for it all three years.

“It was definitely great to win it today to give us a confidence boost going into playing these guys again in the semifinal and hopefully winning that game.”

Eric MacLeod led the charge offensively for the Gryphons with three tries and three conversions, while Mark Vokey chipped in with three tries and one conversion.

Jared Livingstone, Lucas MacDonald and Christian Frosst each scored individual tries.

Yesterday’s game may have helped the Gryphons confidence heading into the playoffs, but the true turning point and boost came last Thursday at home against Hants East.

“Winning that game was when all the guys game together and we realized we had a goal in mind and that’s to win the provincial banner,” said Wheadon. “We know going into these playoffs that we’re going to give it everything we’ve got and every single guy is on board.”

Colton Murray and Jacob Read were the individual try scorers for the Nighthawks, who will be looking to take lessons out of their loss according to Read.

“We really need to keep the pressure going through the whole game (next week),” he said. “We got lazy through the middle, but we just need to keep going hard and play our game like we can.

“It’s been a rough time because a lot of guys got injured and we had to pick up a few guys halfway through the year, but we’re coming around now and hopefully next game will be a lot different.”

Tuesday’s semifinal will take place in New Glasgow at 4 p.m.

 

Girls: North Nova 67, Northumberland 0

The girls Gryphons team capped off a perfect regular season yesterday with their win over the Nighthawks.

North Nova’s victory also earned them the Pictou County Cup in its inaugural year for girls rugby in the county.

Although it’s difficult for a group learning the game like the Northumberland to stay positive in a 67-0 game, coach Laura Vermeulen they are taking strides in the right direction and work hard at remaining positive no matter what the score.

“Our main focus when we’re playing North Nova is keeping our heads calm and not to get down on ourselves,” she said. “We just keep pushing forward and take it as it comes. I’m not a fan of negativity on the field and when the girls get down on themselves it's not fun anymore. They’ve worked really hard, we’re still building and maybe next year we’ll win that trophy.”

Keeley MacCuish had three tries and Caroline Straub one try and six conversions to lead the Gryphons offence. Lily MacDonald, Lindsay Feit, Selena Denny, Latisha Benoit, Paige Clarke, Hailey Conley and Rebecca Taylor had a try apiece.

“They’re doing really well,” said coach Dougal MacInnis about if he thought his team would be where they are. “They pass well. They tackle well. A lot of that comes from natural talent. We have a lot of really good athletes.”

Thursday afternoon the Northumberland Nighthawks travel to Antigonish to play J.H. Gillis in their final game of the regular season, which will determine who North Nova faces on Tuesday in their semifinal.

Should J.H. Gillis win they advance to the playoffs. Northumberland must win by six to be guaranteed to advance. If they win by five points the two teams tie in their head-to-head matchup and have to use a tiebreaker to determine who moves on.

“It’s their last chance to prove how bad we want it,” said Vermeulen. “Again with every game (we’re going to focus on) communication, pressuring the other team and really wanting that ball. When we were in P.E.I. we lost the first game on Friday, but then on Sunday the girls really wanted it. We were determined to win and we did. You could see the intensity (in those games) and we were missing that today. The togetherness wasn’t there.

“We want to prove how hard we’ve worked and follow through by winning against Antigonish on Thursday.”

 

christopher.cameron@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsChris

Geographic location: North Nova, Pictou County, Hants East New Glasgow Antigonish P.E.I.

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