Knights team off to 2-0 start as high school rugby season gets underway
By Fred Sherwin
Wakim tries to break a tackle during the St. Peter Knights' 17-7 win over the
Hillcrest Hawks on Wednesday. Fred Sherwin/Photo
winning four of the last five city championships and losing 22 of 25 players to
graduation, the St. Peter Knights senior boys rugby team is supposed to be going
through a rebuilding phase. As it turns out, so are the rest of the teams in Ottawa.
Wednesday, a relatively inexperienced St. Pete's team beat the Hillcrest Hawks
17-7. Hillcrest has a rich and storied rugby tradition, but on Wednesday they
had to give up a number of uncontested scrums because their front line doesn't
have enough experience to do it properly.
difference between the Knights and 95 per cent of the other high school rugby
teams in the city is coaching. LeeAnn Napiorkowski is one of the best in the business.
The former national develop.m.ent team member, took 11 of her charges to Scotland
last month to immerse them in rugby culture.
team lost two close matches before ending their tour with a 24-23 win over Thurrock
RFC. Before returning home they watched the Royal Wedding on a giant screen at
Windsor Castle and then joined in the celebrations in London.
being a tremendous bonding exercise, the trip exposed the players to the sport
at an extremely high level. As a result the team is of to a strong start with
wins over Lisgar and Hillcrest.
big test comes next Tuesday when they host the Bell Bruins who are also 2-0. A
win would assure them a spot in the top two and a first round bye in the playoffs,
assuming they beat Colonel By next Friday. A loss would put them in the middle
of the pack.
area the Knights need to improve on is their start. Overzealousness resulted in
a number of mistakes against Hillcrest which allowed the Hawks to carry the play
in the first half and resulted in the first try of the game.
7-0 at halftime, Napiorkowski settled her troops down during the break and told
them to focus on the fundamentals.
more relaxed Knights side responded with an impressive drive to start the second
half which resulted in a try by Phil Wakim, who is one of only three returning
players from last year's city championship team.
the try, Corey Costantini missed the convert attempt from a sharp angle which
left the Knights trailing 7-5.
to take the lead, the Knights pressed their advantage in the second half and eventually
scored the go ahead try on a series of passes ending with Brendan Sheahen crossing
the touch line for the first time in his high school rugby career.
missing his first convert attempt, Wakim split the uprights on his second attempt
to extend the Knights lead to 12-7.
would add to their lead late in the game on Sheahen's second try of the afternoon
to make the final 17-7 for the home team.
the game, Napiorkowski breathed a sigh of relief.
was stressful," said the Knights coach. "In the first half we were just
overstimulated and all hyped up which led to a lot of silly mistakes. Thankfully,
we were able to calm down in the second half and took care of things."
other rugby action on Wednesday, the varsity girls squad lost 20-3 to Ashbury
to even their record at 1-1. The junior boys team, meanwhile, will see action
again on Thursday against the Colonel By Cougars after crushing Cairine Wilson
44-0 on Tuesday.
8:30 a.m., May 5)
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