Harlequins striving to win while learning

Defence is going to be pounded into the heads of the Penticton Harlequins rugby club.

Defence is going to be pounded into the heads of the Penticton Harlequins rugby club.

The Harlequins are fresh off a 20-15 loss to Westside at McNicoll Oval on Saturday in season opener in the men’s Division 3 Okanagan Rugby Union. Westside squeaked out the wining try in the last minute.

“That (defence) kind of fell apart a bit in the second half,” said Harlequins coach John Cannon on Tuesday. “Salmon Arm, we don’t really know what to expect. We are focusing on improving things from last week. Hopefully we can hammer them out in two training sessions.”

Cannon, who represented Canada and played professionally in England, said his team came out strong and explained what his rookie players gained.

“It’s always difficult going from training to game experience,” said Cannon, taking a break from his coaching duties. “You can train as hard as you want, hitting each other, but when it comes down to it, especially for new guys who are just picking up rugby, the game experience was pretty important.”

In facing a younger Westside squad, Cannon said that showed in the second half.

“That’s when they came back,” he said. “Definitely a few things to work on. Looking forward to taking those challenges on and getting a couple of wins.”

Cannon said his players can hold their heads high as they are in a learning process. Among the positives was ball possession and Cannon liked the play of his forwards and has been working with them on rucking and mauling.

“It wasn’t the prettiest game but there is definitely some positives,” added Cannon.

Brandon Messier, who plays the back row, feels confident they will come together against Salmon Arm on Saturday.

“Come together as a team, have one voice,” said Messier. “That’s the major thing, one voice speaking for all of us. Working on a few of our lineout plays. Throwing the ball back in from out of bounds.”

With several new faces, Messier feels having Cannon as a coach will help because of his experience. He feels confident that the team can challenge for the Division 3 Okanagan Rugby Union. In facing Salmon Arm, Messier is aware they have older guys with size, but adds that can be an advantage for the Harlequins to utilize their speed. The Harlequins will host Salmon Arm at the McNicoll Oval at 1 p.m.