NEW GLASGOW – It was one of their best games of the season, but the injury-riddled North Nova boy’s rugby team was eliminated from provincials by Kings-Edgehill in Saturday’s NSSAF provincial semifinal.
For the Gryphons looked like it could be an uphill climb as KES scored early in their game.
North Nova answered on the final play before halftime as Ryan MacDonald scored their first try of the game, with Darryl Wheadon kicking the conversion to knot the semifinal 7-7.
Both teams had their fair share of possession in the final 20 minutes of play, but with no time remaining on the clock KES scored their second try of the game and kicked the conversion to win 14-7.
“We’ve been a team that’s been hurting for a few weeks now,” said North Nova boys coach Joe MacDonald. “Everybody that we put on the field today was injured and not 100 per cent, but they gave us more than 100 per cent. They played in front of their school and the huge crowd that was here to support them and they did themselves justice by the way they played.
“Like I said to them, they’re all winners leaving here today because they left everything out on the field.”
Kings-Edgehill went on to lose the provincial final to Citadel 34-0. Both teams had finished first in their pools after round-robin play.
Although they wanted to be hoisting the banner on their home field, MacDonald said the coaches and school were proud of the team’s effort in their final game of the season.
“I think that was best team game they played all year,” he said. “I think individually there was no selfishness. We played as a unit, we heard them communicating and we heard them having fun. When you’re communicating in this game you’re having fun.”
He did admit that having the game end with Kings-Edgehill scoring was tough, but they won’t dwell on it.
On the girl’s side North Nova was shutout 15-0 by Citadel High School in their semifinal played at Northumberland.
In the opening three minutes the Gryphons went down 8-0, but looked like they may get that back before halftime as they came within inches of scoring. Instead the whistle went and they remained down 8-0 at halftime.
Citadel capped off the game with a try and conversion in the second half, with all 15 points being scored by Sophie Kinley.
“What was it today? I think after we got down a couple points the pressure of trying to come back in a shorter amount of time weighed on us a little bit,” said girls coach Dougal MacInnis. “The girls played hard right to the end, so I was proud of them and am happy with that.”
Citadel went on to lose 19-12 to Halifax West, who North Nova had defeated 7-5 to open the tournament. MacInnis admitted it was tough to end the season on a losing note, but overall he was happy with his team’s year.
“They had a fantastic year and it is a tough way to end the year, but that’s why we play the games,” said MacInnis. “I’m really proud of the girls. They had a fantastic season, it’s just when you’re at provincials they’re all really good teams.”
The Gryphons girl’s team graduates eight players this year, while there are 10 graduating from the boys.
“We have a fairly young team, but we’re going to lose eight pretty good players,” said MacInnis. “Our team is deep. Even being young, of the 17 coming back, those 17 are all really strong players. We should be fine.”
Next year North Nova will also be adding Grade 9 at the school, which will mean finding ways to incorporate them into the rugby program. Both MacInnis and MacDonald said they have thought about that, but don’t have a particular plan in place just yet.
“I think it will give us a lot more depth, but we’re not quite sure how we’re going to structure that,” said MacDonald. “We have a structured program, so we have to look at ways we’re going to fit them in. Playing time is an issue for everybody. Everybody wants to play, it’s a foreign sport for all these kids, so it’s basically like they’re starting from scratch not knowing the game or the rules. Having them for an extra year will be huge for our program.”
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