The Ballenas Whalers senior girls rugby team nearly sank the more seasoned Alberni Armada in the final home game of the season.
The Whalers made a strong comeback in the last five minutes and were leading by a try. They almost held off the Armada who made one last drive in the last minute and were able to ground the ball just outside the post to tie things up, then sailed off with the win when they booted in the conversion.
It was a hard loss but still a very promising performance by the Whalers, who are playing as a development team and will not be heading to the North Islands.
“It is always disappointing to lose in the last play, but what I was proud of was the girls won the second half,” Ballenas head coach Olivia Hill said.
The Armada, who have big players who drove the ball successfully against the Whalers defence, led 17-12 in the first half. But when game resumed the Whalers turned on the jets and were able to use their speed to score two tries to take a 22-17 lead. With five minutes left to play, the Whalers mustered all they could in defence to stop the charging Armada but were unable to shut the door. The final score was 24-22 in Alberni’s favour.
“Port Alberni is a very physical team,” said Hill. “They have strong players. We tend to be a quicker and faster team. We were mismatched in terms of our skills. They had to adjust their playing styles to defend against a strong forward, low heavy runners. They adjusted in the second half. They had a lot of big tackles and they fought hard until the end. I am really proud of them. I think that’s the best we’ve played.”
The Whalers will wrap up their season in a three-team tournament in Courtenay on Monday. Then this coming Wednesday Hill is organizing a fun mixed touch rugby that would involve the boys rugby team.