Ballenas Whalers Mika Melnick sprints past the Mark Isfeld defence to score a try at the season-ending tournament held in Nanaimo on Friday. — Michael Briones photo

Whalers find it cool despite getting Iced

Ballenas coach proud of her players who have learned to love rugby

The Ballenas Whalers senior girls rugby team got iced again by a familiar nemesis. But it’s cool.

Despite losing to the Mark Isfeld Ice for the second straight game, 26-5 at the end-of-season tournament held last week in Nanaimo, the Whalers remained upbeat and pleased with the way they have played, not only on that day, but for the entire season.

The Whalers were hoping to avenge their only league loss to Isfeld and they came out raring for a good fight on Friday afternoon at the Nanaimo Rugby Club field. They opened the scoring late in the first half when Mika Melnick forced her way through the Ice defence and sprinted along the wing to land an unconverted try.

But in the second half, things didn’t go well for the Whalers. It was their defence that led to their demise, missing crucial tackles that Isfeld capitalized on with scores on four successive tries. The Ice missed only one conversion to seal the win 26-5.

In their earlier game, the Whalers beat the Cowichan Valley Thunderbirds 42-7.

Coach Olivia Hill said she is proud of the Ballenas team, which consists of new players with very little rugby experience.

Ballenas has not had a rugby team in the last seven or eight years and this team, Hill said, has shown great progress in just a short time.

“When we played Cowichan the first time this year, we tied them 17-17. Today we beat them 42-7. So they demonstrated a lot of growth and, more importantly, they had fun and they played well as a team and they were sportsmanlike the whole season through,” said Hill. “They had fallen in love with rugby and that’s all I wanted.”

Some members of the Whalers team will not be hanging up their boots just yet. They will continue to see action in the weeks ahead.

Hill indicated the Whalers will be fielding a 7-a-side team in the Nanaimo league that starts this coming Thursday.

Hill also added that she is bringing the Whalers team to watch the 2017 HSBC Canada Womens Sevens tournament May 27-28 at Westhills Stadium in Langford. It is part of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, with 12 of the worlds best national teams competing.

“After an exciting season, I think they deserve to have a bit of fun,” said Hill.

The Whalers also had the opportunity of attending a sevens skill camp in Victoria on April 29, led by Team Canada members.

Next year, Hill plans to coach the Whalers again. She will have to recruit new players as most of her members are graduating this year.

“We will continue playing and develop the team,” said Hill. “This year I started with players with no experience but at least next year I will have seven or eight girls that have already played. I can’t wait.”

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