Heading into their OCAA men’s rugby crossover playoff game the Georgian Grizzlies men’s rugby team knew they would have their hands full against the defending silver medalists in the Algonquin Thunder.
Georgian had a strong regular season with a 4-2 record to earn home field advantage and a Saturday afternoon playoff game at the Barrie Community Sports Complex.
Unfortunately that advantage didn’t last long for the Grizzlies as the Thunder were able to score in the opening few minutes of the contest on their way to owning a 21-0 lead by the twenty minute mark.
Georgian showed the same fight they have all season pushing back but still trailed 33-10 by halftime.
With their season on the line Grizzlies Head Coach John Daggett got his players ready for the second half. The team responded, scoring three times early in the second half to get the team within 11 points with still much of the second half remaining.
Those scoring drives took the energy out of the Grizzlies and with the injuries piling up Georgian could no longer hold off the Thunder as Algonquin scored 17 unanswered points to win the game 50-22.
Liam Birkwood (Ottawa) and Kyle Labine (Ottawa) led the Thunder with two tries each, while Brian Hue had five converts. The play of John Shaw (Ottawa) proved difficult to stop for the Grizzlies as he had one try and was a key cog in Algonquin’s offence.
The Grizzlies continued to get stellar play from Conan Valyear (Barrie), Devon Jackson (Angus) and Albert Calamatta (Erin) who each had a try on the afternoon.
For the Thunder the win means they have earned a spot in the OCAA semi-finals and will travel to Peterborough next week to face the Trent Excalibur.
For the Grizzlies it leaves a long off-season of thinking of what could have been but also time to reflect on the many positives from the year. Georgian now has three straight winning seasons under John Daggett and in Division-I play. With all the hard work being done, that elusive playoff win is only a matter of time away.