Williams Lake Rustlers player Brendon Pritchard (from left) battles through a tackle while teammates Peter Ivens, Caleb Lee, Eric Smith and Jordan Murphy follow up in support. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo)

Rustlers victorious over Gnats in season opener

The Williams Lake Rustlers put forth a dominant performance Saturday in a 64-15 win.

The Williams Lake Rustlers Rugby Football Club erupted for 10 tries in its season and home opener Saturday at the Ottoman Drive rugby fields.

The Rustlers defeated the visiting Prince George Gnats, 64-15, in the contest in front of a large gathering of fans at the local pitch.

“They’re big guys and they hit hard and they play good rugby,” Rustlers player Brendon Pritchard said.

“We managed to play a bit wider which worked to our advantage and run the ball in a couple times that way and, ultimately, that’s what led to our victory today (Saturday).

“We love that these guys travelled down to play us and looking forward to going up to play them.”

Ryan Welke recorded three tries for the Rustlers, with Sky Freeman and Jordy Pritchard both recording two. Cole Feldinger, Caleb Lee and Alex Crook also each notched singles in the victory.

Gnats’ player Cris Amoroso said it was a tough game for Prince George as they travelled to the lakecity with a shorthanded roster.

“Williams Lake did us a great solid by playing down a couple guys so we could have a full game going,” Amoroso said.

“It was tough here. You have to go the full 80 (minutes) — big hits out there. I think the difference came down to just having some fresher legs and towards the end they started outrunning us.”

Rustlers head coach Braden McCallum said he was pleased with the team’s effort, especially for the first game of the season.

“Our defence held strong and we capitalized on almost every opportunity that presented itself, especially off the mistakes by Prince George.”

He credited the work of Bernier and Welke at the centre position, as well as Freeman, who he said did an excellent job directing traffic on defence from the fullback position.

The Rustlers will now have the May long weekend off, before they travel north to Terrace Saturday, May 27 for a double-header with games against Terrace and Prince Rupert.

They’ll then host Terrace Saturday, June 3 in Williams Lake, before the annual Stampede Rugby Tournament takes place from July 1-2.

On Saturday, July 15, Prince Rupert comes to Williams Lake for a tilt.

Then, on July 29, the Rustlers will close out its season with the Saratoga Cup — a B.C.-wide competition for clubs in the province from Northern B.C., Vancouver and Vancouver Island, the Kootenays and the Okanagan. Last year’s Saratoga Cup was won by the Terrace Northmen.