Winning the Saratoga Cup was not meant to be for the Penticton Harlequins men’s rugby team.
After losing the opening game of the round-robin tournament Saturday afternoon to the defending champion Elk Valley Bulls 25-24, their fate of winning the trophy was in the hands of the Williams Lake Rustlers.
Things looked good for the home side as the Rustlers led the Bulls 8-7.
On the next kickoff by the Bulls, the Rustlers decided to play the ball instead of kick it off, which resulted in a penalty kick. The Bulls then converted to repeat as champs.
“It was extremely disheartening that Williams Lake botched up the game that badly,” said Harlequins coach Ken Sommerfeldt. “When you leave it to another team to decide your fate, that’s what happens.”
The Harlequins didn’t help themselves with a slow start against the Rustlers that resulted in them spotting the visitors a 10-0 lead.
However, the Harlequins evened the score before the half ended. In the second half they scored three unanswered tries for a 29-10 win.
Leading the offensive charge for the Harlequins was Spencer Dunstan-Adams, Ropati Faoa Ulutoa and Evan Lloyd. Lloyd also had three converts and one penalty kick.
“We did better than I expected in the Saratoga Cup,” said Sommerfeldt. “The team definitely stood up and played when they had to. Results were better than I expected.”
The Saratoga Cup was played in a round-robin format because the Kats representing the Lower Mainland / Vancouver Island contacted Sommerfeldt indicating they were not able to field enough players to make the trip. The tournament normally features four teams.
On the Harlequins Facebook page, they posted a message stating that they will continue to hold practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. at McNicoll Park.