Volume 12 Week 5

Wednesday, March 29


 

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

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Tim Tierney

 

 

 

 

'(Posted 7:30 a.m., May 27)
St. Pete's wins battle of the Knights to capture AAA/AAAA rugby crown
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The St. Peter Knights celebrate after winning the NCSSAA AAA/AAAA senior boys rugby championship on Monday. Photo supplied


The St. Peter Knights had no lack of motivation heading into the senior boys AAA/AAAA high school rugby championship on Monday. Besides wanting to avenge their lopsided loss to the Hillcrest Hawks in last year's final, the Knights also wanted to make amends for their only loss to the Nepean Knights earlier this season and deliver a win for teammate Harrison Lowe who had to sit the game out due to a mild stroke he suffered last week.

Unfortunately, their eagerness to get the job done failed to come through in their execution as the St. Peter Knights got into early trouble due to poor ball control.

As the first half wore on the Knights kept shooting themselves in the foot with poor tosses and bad decisions on the ground which eventually led to Nepean's opening try by Tommy Shabinski, who took the ball off a quick tap on a penalty and ran it in from five metres out.

The rest of the half went pretty mush the same way as the first 20 minutes as Nepean managed to keep the up the pressure. It wasn't until the final 10 minutes that the Knights finally got their act together and made a foray deep into Nepean's end.

A chip on by Shane Dabros and a solid run managed to move the ball down to the 10 metre line. They would get to within an eyelash of the touch line before a penalty call against St. Pete's allowed Nepean to kick the ball out of harm's way.

On the change of possession, St. Pete's once again came knocking on Nepean's door. Kadim Grant tossed the ball out to Gabe Carbone off a penalty on the 10 metre line and Carbone ran it in to tie the score moments before halftime.

After a lecture from head coach LeeAnn Napiorkowski during the break, the Knights came out with a lot more purpose in the second half, and despite playing into a strong head wind, they made great headway.

When the Knights didn't have the ball ,they pressured Nepean into making mistakes. Just three minutes into the second half, Parker Morrison managed to block an attempted kick from Nepean's in-goal area and then covered the loose ball for the easy try to give the Knights a 10-5 lead.

Nepean was on their heels through much of the second half. An Alex Graham run midway through the half had the Knights knocking on the door once again and once again it was immense pressure in Nepean's in-goal area that forced a turnover as Morrison once again gathered up the loose ball for St. Pete's third try.

Down 15-5, Nepean finally came to life through the later stages of the second half, but the Knights were more than up to the task as they prevented their west end opponents from scoring from inside the 10 metre line on two separate occasions.

With just under five minutes to go in the game, the Knights sealed the game for good on an excellent run by Dabros to the corner. He then circled around the touch area before placing the ball directly behind the posts to give Graham a chip shot for the conversion and a 22-5 lead which is how the game ended.

This is the third time the Knights have won the senior boys rugby championship since Napiorkowski took over the program four years ago. A talented rugby player in her own right, Napiorkowski isn't shy when it comes to expressing her opinion about the latest group of champions.

"This is definitely the strongest rugby team I've coached at St. Pete's. The team in 2007 was a bunch of football players who were awesome athletes, but this is a real rugby team," said Napiorkowski.

The transformation from football and hockey players into ruggers started with the first indoor workouts back in January and culminated in a trip to Ireland in March during which they won all three games they played.

As the high school season began, they reeled off four straight wins before losing 12-5 to Nepean. They managed to quickly right the ship in beating
St. Pius on the last game of regular season and then mauled the previously undefeated Merivale Marauders 45-0 in the semi-finals.

One of the unsung heroes of the all three Knights' championship wins has been coach Napiorkowski's mother Flo, who had the entire team over for a huge pasta lunch before the game.

To show their appreciation, the players gave "Grandma Flo" a bouquet of flowers after the big win and had her kiss the trophy.

With the NCSSAA championship now safely back in the east end, the Knights must prepare for the upcoming OFSAA provincial championships where they hope to have Lowe back in the line-up.

'(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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