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PNW Teams Play in Western Canadian Championships

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PNW Teams Play in Western Canadian Championships

Loggers girls warm up for a tough tournament.

The Pacific Northwest Loggers have sent two U18 teams to compete in this weekend's Western Canadian Rugby Championships.

The Loggers faced off with provincial sides from throughout Canada. 

Girls Loggers

This is the second year that the Loggers girls have participated in the Western Canadian Rugby Championships. Coming off a long trip (carpooling 800 miles to Calgary), they did well to shake the trip out of their legs for the opener.

On Friday morning the Loggers faced Manitoba, which started strong early putting the Pacific Northwest under pressure. The Loggers played stiff defense near their own tryline, pushing back the hard-driving Manitobans several times before conceding a try at about six minutes.

The Loggers responded well and at 14 minutes a 40-meter run by Joan Castor equalized the game 5-5. Three minutes later Sophia Clasen again showed the speed of The Loggers with a 60-meter breakaway for a try. Ryan Stammen converted and it was 12-5 at halftime.

In the second half the Loggers pressed their advantage. Princess Va'a showed power and quickness to get through the line before offloading to Clasen for her second try of the match. The girls from Oregon and Washington controlled play in the second half and capped it off when Kiona Hill got over the line with four minutes remaining. The conversion by Stammen made it 24-5 at full time. 

In their second match of the day, The Loggers faced a very physical Ontario side and fell 7-34. Vivianne Wright scored and Stammen converted, but Ontario won comfortably.

On Saturday, the Loggers handed Saskatchewan a 24-7 defeat.

The championship pools were divided into a West Pool (BC, Alberta's Wolf Pack, PNW) and an East Pool (Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan), with teams from one pool playing the three teams from the other. The West teams dominated, meaning that despite being 2-1, the Loggers were actually 3rd in their pool as the Wolf Pack's loss to Ontario was not but as big a margin as the Loggers' loss, and BC went 3-0. 

In the semifinals, BC shut out Manitoba 36-0 and Ontario held off the Wolf Pack 20-12. PNW played Saskatchewan for the second time and won 20-7. So BC will face off with Ontario for the final, but then it gets shaken up a bit as teams that didn't face each other play off. This means Manitoba plays Saskatchewan for what should be 5th, and the Loggers take on Wolf Pack in what should be a very interesting 3rd-place match.

Boys Loggers

This is the PNW Loggers Boys first trip to the Western Canadian Championships and it has been a learning experience.

Their opener against the BC Bears was a rematch of a warmup game played between the two a couple of weeks ago. In that game BC had won handily. It was a tighter game this time around, but BC still won. The Loggers were able to keep the Bears in a check for much of the first half despite having to defend their 22 for most of it. BC did finally execute some well-drilled players to score trice. PNW answered off a quick-tap midway through the second period, But BC closed it out 22-5.

In the second game against the team from the Maritimes, the Loggers opened strongly with some strong forward carries and well-placed kicks. But all that backfired when Rock Rugby intercepted a pass and ran in for the first try. Loggers heads and energy dropped and aside from some strong scrums and sporadic forward drives, they could not reclaim their initial energy.  Rock scored five, Loggers one as Rock won 27-7.

Day Two saw the Loggers get a win as they played an aggressive, direct game and connected a little better. Their mauling was very good and that led to two tries for prop Joe Marlino. No. 8 Joe Chambers scored off a free kick play and the PNW had their first victory 15-5.

The fourth game of the tournament for the PNW saw perhaps one of the most intense. Ontario was the top seed and heavily favored in this game, but they ran into a very determined Loggers side. Ontario scored first with a searing run down the left wing and added a second just before the break to lead 14-0.

But the Loggers were unfazed and fought back. their forwards led the way and off a pick-and-dive Lawson Barton got over the line. That made it 14-7, and the Loggers through they had another but the referee judged the ball had been dropped in-goal. An exciting game for sore as Ontario held on 14-7.

Sunday will see a round-robin between the Loggers (1-3), Saskatchewan (0-4), and Manitoba (0-4) to see who gets 5th overall. Meanwhile Wolf Pack takes on Rock for 3rd while BC and Ontario, both 4-0, play for the championship.

See video from all three days here: