Vancouver, BC: The British Columbia Under-23 women's provincial team are on the verge of clinching the Tier Two National Women's League rugby title after posting an impressive 34-10 win over Saskatchewan's senior provincial side on Friday afternoon.
In Under-20 action, the Ontario Junior Storm recorded a convincing 54-0 win over Manitoba to top the standings heading into the final round of games. Tournament hosts British Columbia fell 15-10 to Alberta, but are currently sitting in second place, setting up a blockbuster finale on Sunday.
Tier Two - Round Robin
British Columbia-U23 34, Saskatchewan 10
After a tight first half of crunching tackles and stiff defence, the BC Under-23 women's provincial team found their footing against Saskatchewan and ran in five tries en route to a 34-10 victory.
BC's kicking-prop sensation Randi Hunter led all scorers with nine points through three conversions and a penalty. BC tries were notched by Captain Jesse Olynyk, Chelsey Minter, Hannah Yow, Megan Hamm and Joan Cole.
A relentless Saskatchewan lineup went toe-to-toe in the opening frame with BC and trailed only 10-3 at the break after Jenn Skilnick converted a penalty. Their offence was unable to break the BC defensive line until the dying minutes, however, when Julie Paetsch crossed over for a try converted by Skilnick.
"We knew today was going to be a little more physical and Saskatchewan definitely was a very strong forward team. [They] play the typical prairie rugby you see against Alberta and Saskatchewan, a lot of forward games, hard and close to the breakdown," said BC Captain Olynyk. "It was a battle of attrition, but we lasted longer and we were able to run our plays. They had some skill out in the back, but [today] was definitely decided on whether or not our forwards could match up with them."
The BC U23 squad currently leads the Tier Two standings with 10 points, with Saskatchewan and Ontario both trailing with five. BC will play their final match against New Brunswick, a team still winless in the NWL competition this year. Kickoff for the BC U23 match is scheduled for 9:00am on Sunday at UBC's Wolfson Fields.
Ontario-U23 53, New Brunswick 5
Ontario's U23 squad were in top form on Friday, when they downed New Brunswick's senior provincial team 53-5 to record their first win of the 2011 NWL Finals.
New Brunswick scored the opening try when Jessica Frenette crossed over for an early 5-0 lead, but were unable to hold off a relentless Ontario attack.
Led by Katie McNally's hat trick of tries, Ontario crossed over nine times for the win. Louise Chen recorded a brace of tries with Courtney Mellish, Brittany Sammut, Katie Chu, and Tiera Thomas-Reynolds also going over. Caleigh Harris successfully kicked four conversions to cap off an impressive day two performance.
Ontario and Saskatchewan are currently level with five points a piece in the Tier Two standings and will square off on Sunday at 10:45am.
Under-20 - Round Robin
Alberta 15, British Columbia 10
Fresh off a narrow day one loss to Ontario, Alberta's Under-20 team came out firing and downed tournament hosts BC by a score of 15-10.
In a tightly contested match which changed leads several times, Alberta's speedy winger Cassandra Orr proved to be the difference with two crucial tries. Jillian Ankutowicz provided the third try to register Alberta's first win of the tournament.
BC's two tries were recored by Brittany Holness and Jen Cousineau. By keeping the score line within seven points, BC claimed a crucial bonus point to keep their national title hopes alive. The hosts will now take on table leaders Ontario on Sunday morning at 10:45am.
"Considering that was just our second game together as a team, we played pretty well," said BC coach Stephanie Murphy. "Alberta came out more aggressive and that was the difference today. We're obviously disappointed in the outcome, but we are still in this competition and we will now look forward to Sunday."
Ontario 54, Manitoba 0
The Ontario Junior Storm wrapped up day two of the NWL Finals with their second straight bonus point victory to top the Under-20 standings. Ontario recorded nine tries to blank Manitoba by a score of 54-0.
Maggie Cogger-Orr and Zoe Smith notched two tries apiece while singles were recorded by Gillian Pegg, Julia Greenshields, Tanya Bennett, Hollie Smith, Samantha Beal and Claire Lockhart. Greenshields tacked on two conversions to round out the scoring for Ontario.
"I was pleased to see our team really execute our game plan," said Onatrio head coach Bob Periard. "We've had some great leaders so far with Julia Greenshields, Claragh Pegg and Maggie Cogger-Orr really stepping up to lead this squad. Now we move on to Sunday and that's going to be a big game for us."
Manitoba will play their final match at 9:00am on Sunday against Alberta at UBC's Wolfson Fields.
2011 NWL Schedule
Sunday, July 3 at UBC's Wolfson Fields
9:00am: Manitoba U20 vs Alberta U20
9:00am: (Tier 2) New Brunswick vs BC U23
10:45am: (Tier 2) Ontario U23 vs Saskatchewan
10:45am: Ontario U20 vs BC U20
12:30pm: (Tier 1 Consolation Final) British Columbia vs Quebec
12:30pm: (Tier 1 Championship Final) Alberta vs Ontario
The National Women's League Finals is an annual competition featuring the highest level of domestic women's rugby in the country. BC will field three teams for the NWL tournament scheduled for June 30th through July 3rd at the University of British Columbia's Wolfson Fields.