Justin Gabriel of the Penticton Harlequins tackles Jan Vreys of the Vernon Jackals in the Okanagan Rugby Union playoff final Saturday at Grahame Park. (Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star)

Jackals brush back Harlequins

Win third straight Okanagan Rugby Union playoff title

The Vernon Jackals pulled a three-peat by brushing back the Penticton Harlequins 24-22 in the Okanagan Rugby Union playoff final Saturday afternoon at Grahame Park.

The teams were meeting in the championship tilt for the third straight year and it again went right down to the final whistle.

The second-place Harlequins came up flush with numbers and were able to pull in some faces from the past to truly test the defending champs.

“Penticton threw everything they had at us in that first 10 minutes; we were lucky to get out of that only down three,” said Vernon backs captain Bryan Cragg, discussing the start which was dominated by the Penticton forwards and was capped with a 40-yard boot which split the uprights giving the visitors the early lead.

Vernon, who had not trailed in a game for their entire undefeated season, needed to reset and led by veteran and eventual co-Kal Sports Bar Man of the Match Jan Vreys and Reece Milham, calmed the team down which stopped the Jackals from hemorrhaging penalties and turned the momentum to the home team.

RELATED: Jackals jolt Harlequins in final 

Once the champs could retain ball possession, they were able to score three quick tries before the half with Vreys, Kyle Richardson and Rich Frankin all finding the end zone and Cragg kicking two conversions.

The effort Penticton came out with at the onset of the game was nothing compared to how they started the second half as the Jackals’ 19-3 half-time lead disintegrated quickly as the Harlequins exploited some weak spots and perhaps a little overconfidence by the Jackals.

The Harlequins scored twice and converted both to shave the lead to 19-17 and looked to have all the momentum against a relatively inexperienced Jackals squad.

“It wasn’t looking great but coach (Clay) Coles noticed something late and made a call from the sideline next time we were in their end,” said Cragg.

That call from sideline boss Coles who coached this season due to injury sprung Cragg around the edge for a score with eight minutes remaining for a 24-17 Vernon lead.

Penticton answered but just didn’t have enough left in the tank for another score in the dying minutes.

Vernon now takes a small summer break to rest and heal before they start the tournament season with Centre of Gravity in late July which now has a sevens competition.

The Jackals have earned the right to compete for the provincial title which takes place in Penticton in September versus the Rocky Mountain Rouges, Prince George Gnats and Terrace Northmen, who have beat the Jackals the previous two years in the B.C. final.


@VernonNews
sports@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penticton group growing produce for those in need

Garden box project aims to provide ‘dirt therapy’ and supply Penticton with more fresh produce

Shoppers line up hours early for reopening of Penticton’s Care Closet Thrift Store

The not-for-profit thrift store supports several local organizations and charities

Summerland man rescued following ATV accident

Helicopters used to transport injured man to Kelowna for treatment

South Okanagan playgrounds now open

Once caution tape is removed, playgrounds are officially open for public use

Moog and Friends Hospice hopes to raise $30,000 this month

Donations give hospice a chance to win an additional cash prize of $20,000

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

Kelowna Mountie faces internal review after ‘uncooperative’ arrest

“A thorough internal review of this officer’s actions is currently underway,” said Kelowna RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle.

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

B.C. NDP says Andrew Wilkinson is wrong about federal link

Morning Start: #BlackLivesMatter started with a love letter

Your morning start for Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Parent, superintendent, trustee report smooth return to classrooms in B.C.

The biggest challenge is convincing families that it’s safe, some say

High water levels on Shuswap Lake may close popular Canoe Beach

Rain forecast could flood entrance tunnel, city staff to evaluate

189 homes in Grand Forks area given evacuation orders

Homes are in the Nursery, Grand Forks Airport, Gilpin Rd., Johnson Flats and Granby Rd. areas

Mother bear and two cubs spotted in West Kelowna

Residents of Shannon Lake are urged to be on the look out for three bears in the area

Social justice advocate yells at Kelowna council, demands presence at Black Lives Matter rally

Heather Friesen has again taken to council chambers to make her opinion heard

Most Read