Wade Lavallee’s try gave the Kamloops Raiders a 14-point lead and the inside track to a repeat B.C. Rugby Union title in Burnaby on Saturday.
Langley Rugby Club preyed on indiscipline and Kamloops turnovers in the second half of the men’s Division 2 final, recording 19 unanswered points to win 24-19.
“I was massively disappointed for the boys,” Raiders’ head coach Derek Pue said. “I’m incredibly proud to be involved with these guys. For amateur athletes to put in what these guys put in, it’s a huge ask year in and year out.”
Tries from Matt Scott and Justin Blanchard, both converted by prop Greg Thomson, gave Kamloops a 14-0 lead. Langley answered with an unconverted try, but Lavallee dotted down to put the Raiders ahead 19-5.
“We stuck to our game plan in the first half,” said Pue, whose Raiders posted a 10-4 record in the regular season, finishing third behind Bayside (11-3) and first-place Langley (13-2).
“The idea was to not let Langley build up too much momentum and limit the turnovers so they couldn’t really breathe.
“Going into halftime, we had actually missed on a couple of scoring opportunities, so the score could have been a little bit bigger.”
The lead was cut to seven points when Langley struck with about 30 minutes remaining in the second half.
“Langley woke up and they really brought the tempo up,” Pue said. “They didn’t turn it over and we lost our shape defensively, unfortunately. They were able to pump in two quick ones in the middle of the second half and we couldn’t recover.”
Langley scored twice — one try set up by a Raiders’ infraction and one penalty try — to take the lead with about 10 minutes remaining in the match.
Kamloops marched toward the goal line looking for late heroics in the dying seconds, but a lineout gone awry finished in dispossession.
Langley hoofed the ball out of bounds, cueing the sound of the final whistle.
“No one likes being second, but, in the big picture, you can’t look at it as a negative,” Pue said. “The guys came together for the evening and enjoyed each other’s company on the way home.
“We jumped out, touched some snow and had a little huddle at the tollbooth. Spirits were up eventually.”
Kamloops, thrashed 38-0 at the hands of Vancouver-based Meraloma Rugby Club in the 2017 provincial final, rebounded in 2018 with a 28-27 victory over Vancouver Rowing Club to snare the B.C. championship.
A repeat title was not to be, but Pue, who plans to be back for his fifth season at the helm in 2019-2020, said the Raiders are already turning focus to reaching a fourth straight B.C. final.
“Some of the kids coming out of local high schools are seeing we’re a fun club to be involved with, but we also push the standard high,” Pue said. “We’re coming together to create that environment across the whole club.”