Lakers rugby teams set for playoffs

Lakers senior girls ready for valley playoffs, junior and senior boys teams look for playoff success

PEN HIGH Laker Nakai Penny offloads to Jaxon Stel in a game against the Mt. Boucherie Bears. Penny and the Lakers host a playoff game at McNicoll Park on Thursday against Salmon Arm.

PEN HIGH Laker Nakai Penny offloads to Jaxon Stel in a game against the Mt. Boucherie Bears. Penny and the Lakers host a playoff game at McNicoll Park on Thursday against Salmon Arm.

Kendra Penner, Sabrina Warkentin and Julia Speirs all scored two tries as the Pen High Lakers senior girls rugby team bowled over the Mt. Boucherie Bears for a 56-5 win May 1.

The victory improved the Lakers to 4-1 after their unbeaten record was shattered in a 27-7 loss against the NorKam Saints on April 29.

“We were much better poised in the MBSS game than we had been against NorKam,” said Lakers coach Ian Butters.

Rounding out the Lakers offence was Lorreine Stanley, Emma Morgan, Sophia Reimer and Shantelle Bishop each scoring one try. Anika Hollowaty finished with three conversions.

Butters has seen his experienced players be leaders and show the younger players a sense of rugby culture. Butters sees it as an advantage to have Grade 9 to 11 players with Grade 12s.

“Our rookies play alongside (some) young women who are playing in their fifth season. Our older players mentor and lead the rookies so that we have been able to develop and sustain a sense of unity and common direction that overlaps from year to year,” said Butters.

He wasn’t surprised the pressure of facing the undefeated Saints, who were also 3-0 going into their game, got to some of his players. Scoring tries for the Lakers was Penner with a conversion by Elena Greig. It was the Lakers’ first league loss in three years.

The Lakers will now host Salmon Arm Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at McNicoll Park in the Valley playoffs, while the Saints host city rivals South Kamloops Titans. The winners play each other for the Valley Championship and a berth in the AAA provincial championships May 22-24 in Port Alberni.

Senior boys

A 24-16 win at home against the NorKam Saints on May 1 gave the Pen High Lakers a home playoff game.

“At the start of the season I never would have thought we would have been talking about a home playoff game,” said Lakers coach Ken Sommerfeldt, as his team placed fourth in a seven-team league.

Sommerfeldt said the only problem with that win is that Nakai Penny scored all four tries.

“I would like the other guys to step up and contribute,” he said.

The Lakers next play Salmon Arm on May 8 at McNicoll Park at approximately 4 p.m.

“I really like the idea of getting another crack at them,”said Sommerfeldt.

The Laker coach believes the two sides are close and play a similar game. In their tie, he saw areas they could exploit by kicking and chasing.

“I believe that we can beat them,” he said.

After losing their opening three games, the Lakers tied Salmon Arm on April 25 and defeated the Rutland Voodoo 17-5 at home on April 28. Sommerfeldt has seen improvement but knows there is more to be done. In their first three games, rookies were thrown in and “they got pounded on pretty hard.” Sommerfeldt did that as he felt those games would be a good training ground for the players.

Junior boys

The Lakers are facing the Summerland Rockets in the South zone playoffs Wednesday at 3 p.m. at McNicoll Park.

After starting the season 3-0, the Lakers were brought back down to reality by the Kelowna Owls losing 32-5.

“It was definitely a solid drubbing,” said Sommerfeldt, who hoped for a better score. “The experience plus size was definitely a factor. We got beat by a stronger team.

“They were feeling pretty cocky about themselves,” said Sommerfeldt with a laugh about his players. “They needed a little bit of a waking up to show they are not as hot as they thought they were.”

The Lakers coach said the group still has a lot to learn, but most of the team are in Grade 9. Sommerfeldt stressed the need for the players to listen to the coaches.

“Sometimes from the sidelines it doesn’t look like they are doing that,” he said. “It’s like we are beating our heads against the wall trying to tell them to do something that’s not seen. It’s a case of thinking they are doing what they are asked.”

Sommerfeldt added the group is good at tackling and possesses individual talent. It’s just a matter of playing the strategic game.