An excited Columneetza Cougars senior boys squad celebrates their Northern Interior Seven-A-Side Zone Rugby Championship Saturday after beating the Williams Lake Stags

An excited Columneetza Cougars senior boys squad celebrates their Northern Interior Seven-A-Side Zone Rugby Championship Saturday after beating the Williams Lake Stags

Cougars land provincial sevens berth

Stags, Cougars face off in Northern Interior Seven-A-Side Zone Rugby Championship.

It was about as close of a rugby game as there could be Saturday in the final of the Northern Interior Seven-A-Side Zone Championships at Williams Lake secondary.

And, not unfamiliar to one another, it was the Williams Lake Stags and the Columneetza Cougars battling for a lone provincial championship berth.

“That was anybody’s game,” said Cougars senior boys head coach, Todd Pritchard. “It was great competition and the kids really enjoyed it.”

The Cougars scored first on a long, hard run by winger Brady Johnson, giving Columneetza a 5-0 lead. Josh Thonhill then kicked a convert to make it 7-0 heading into the second half.

There, Williams Lake added a try; however, they failed to make the kick to send the game to overtime, giving Columneetza the narrow 7-5 win.

“The bottom line was we converted on our try and they didn’t,” Pritchard said.

Stags senior boys coach Morley Wilson echoed those statements, and added he thought his squad played well in the final.

“They were exciting games,” he said. “We had the momentum at the end, but it changed hands pretty steadily. It was just a great game.”

The bronze-medal match pitted the Terrace Kermodes against the DP Todd Trojans, with the Kermodes squeaking out a 12-5 overtime win.

The Cougars will now have to wait until March to make the trek to Vancouver’s Saint George’s for the Seven-A-Side Provincial Championships.

“We’ve won zones the last three years and we’ve gone every year,” Pritchard said, but added the competition is tough. “It’s real tough to win down there because you’re playing ‘AAA,’ so the talent level is amazing.”

Meanwhile, the Junior ‘A’ and Junior ‘AA’ zone champions were decided at WLSS over the weekend.

In single-A junior boys action, the Cougars edged the Stags for the win, 17-12.

Jay Richards, with no time left, scored the winning try for the Cougars, with Charlie Mutschele adding two more in the win.

In double-A junior boys action, the Stags thumped Vanderhoof, 52-0, to take the title.

Stags junior boys coach David Neufeld said this year’s junior boys division was tightly contested.

“They [the Cougars] stepped up in the single-A final for sure,” Julius said.

“It was a good lesson for my guys. It was a close game but they came away the victors in the end.”