7:30 a.m., May 27)
St. Pete's wins
battle of the Knights to capture AAA/AAAA rugby crown
By Fred Sherwin
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local
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