Sports

Hornets women try for championship

Nanaimo Hornets players Elyse Pepin, left, and Kylie Turner participate in a drill at practice Monday night at May Richards Bennett Pioneer Park. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
Nanaimo Hornets players Elyse Pepin, left, and Kylie Turner participate in a drill at practice Monday night at May Richards Bennett Pioneer Park.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

It’s safe to say the Nanaimo Hornets women’s rugby team was ready for Div. 1.

After capturing B.C.’s Div. 2 championship last spring, the Nanaimo women wondered how they might handle the jump to Div. 1. They needn’t have worried. This Saturday (May 5) in Duncan, the Hornets play for the Div. 1 provincial championship.

“We thought it was a developmental year going into it and we were pleasantly surprised,” said Arlene McGuff, veteran player. “And we ran with it.”

The women compiled a 5-3 record in league play. Then last Saturday, they travelled to the desert and upset Kamloops 27-15 in the B.C. semifinals.

“It was the perfect lead-up because it was [some] of our biggest competition,” said Brenna Collicutt, Hornets team captain. “We learned how to play together, we jelled as a team and we totally stepped our game up.”

The team made some defensive changes, upped the physicality and more than kept pace offensively with high-scoring Kamloops.

McGuff, Sam Kreeger, Lisa Breuer and Kylie Turner each scored a try and Britta Peterson was a force at the back position.

The Hornets know they’ll need another full team effort in the final as they go up against the undefeated Cowichan Piggies.

The Duncan team has beaten Nanaimo twice this season, but McGuff said the Hornets had lots of opportunities near the try line the last time the teams played, so this Saturday it will just be a matter of breaking through. The Nanaimo women also think their chemistry has improved as the season’s gone on.

“Having that cohesion is something that we’re really working on that the Cowichan Piggies have mastered,” McGuff said.

Just reaching this stage is an achievement for the Hornets, and they believe they’re capable of one more big win.

“It’s going to be very challenging but if we come together like we did this past weekend, we can definitely bring it to them,” said Collicutt. “It’s going to be a tough game for both sides.”

GAME ON … The Hornets and Piggies play Saturday at 1 p.m. at Cowichan’s Herd Road grounds.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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