Williams Lake Rustler Riley Ilnicki (second from right) dives for a try against the Terrace Northmen Saturday as Sidney Paul (right) follows up in support. The Northmen

Williams Lake Rustler Riley Ilnicki (second from right) dives for a try against the Terrace Northmen Saturday as Sidney Paul (right) follows up in support. The Northmen

Northmen edge Rustlers in opener

The Terrace Northmen spoiled the Williams Lake Rustlers Rugby Football Club’s home opener under tumultuous skies with a narrow victory.

The Terrace Northmen spoiled the Williams Lake Rustlers Rugby Football Club’s home opener Saturday under tumultuous skies with a narrow 10-5 victory.

Players endured sunshine, heavy rainfall and even hail and sleet during the course of the match — something Rustlers head coach Braden McCallum said he hasn’t endured since his time coaching in Scotland.

“I’ve not been in Canada when we’ve had three different weather patterns come through in the same game,” McCallum said. “That played a bit of a factor causing knock ons, balls lost on contact and balls lost with no contact.”

Riley Ilnicki scored the lone try for the Rustlers in the match.

“On the day they were the better team,” McCallum said. “But as much as it was close, which was excellent, they could’ve won by a whole lot more. Our guys stepped up at key moments and held the defensive line and also showed me things we need to work on.”

The Rustlers opened the contest finding themselves on their heels and pinned in their defensive end. McCallum said getting off to a better start will be key this weekend when they host the Prince George Gnats Saturday.

“They came out hard right from the beginning,” McCallum said. “They caught us napping a little bit. We were slow to start — that’s something we need to work on for the rest of the season, making sure we start strong and hard. Once we settled in we matched up pretty well and the score was indicative of a close game.”

The Rustlers will host the Gnats Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Ottoman Drive Rugby Fields. There will be a barbecue and concession, and McCallum is inviting the entire community to come watch the game.

“I’ve got no idea what to expect [from Prince George],” he said. “Last year we beat them twice — home and away. So if they’re the same team as last year it should be another pretty hard-fought match, potentially as close as this last one. But if we adjust our game plan and move some personnel around and play the game we know we can play we should be able to come out victorious.”

McCallum also thanked all the fans who endured the weather Saturday for coming out to support the club.

“It was amazing to have a crowd like that,” he said. “So thanks to all the spectators that came out.”