Barbarians devour Jackals 52-0 on home turf
The Merritt Barbarians men’s rugby team continued its inspired play of recent weeks, thrashing the visiting Vernon Jackals 52-0 on Sunday at Voght Park.
The win was the Barbarians’ second in as many games, and more than avenged their 25-0 loss to the Jackals back on April 28.
As they did two weeks ago in a 52-19 conquest of the West Kelowna Grizzlies, the Barbarians dominated almost every facet of their contest against the Jackals. They scored on their first two possessions of the game, and systematically picked apart Vernon’s fragile defense for 31 total points in the first half and another 21 points in the second.
Leading the way for the Barbarians was standoff/fly-half Cole Levitt. In addition to scoring one try of his own, and generously distributing the ball to his fellow backs all game long, the local elementary school teacher successfully kicked six of eight convert attempts to personally contribute 17 points in all to his team’s impressive performance on offense.
Not far behind Levitt in the points parade was fullback Eric Schmidt, arguably the fleetest player in Okanagan third division rugby. The Merritt Secondary graduate, and Princeton Posse junior B hockey player this past season, ran the ball in for three long-distance tries.
The most exciting of Schmidt’s scores, and easily the play of the match, happened midway through the second half. An uncharacteristic low pass from Levitt to Schmidt arrived ankle-high. Without missing a step, the 19-year-old former soccer player flicked the ball up with his foot to teammate Sam Carroll, who in turn relayed back inside to Schmidt. A stunned Jackal’s back line could only watch in amazement as the world-class give-and-go ended with yet another Barbarian’s tally.
Outside centre Cameron Graham chipped in with one additional try from Merritt’s backline, while Riley Clarke, Stuart Woodman and Tom Wigglesworth combined to demonstrate the prowess of the Babarians’ hard-working forward group.
“it was a good result all around,” stated Barbarians’ spokesperson Nathan Brigden. “As a team, we were just so much more organized than the first time we played them [Vernon].”
That organization was in evidence all game long, as Merritt dominated in the scrums, the rucks and even in the line-outs.
Prop and player-coach Ryan Reid said his side gave away some weight to the Jackal forwards, but as a unit more than held their own.
The Barbarians (3-3) have two games remaining in the regular season. Next weekend, they travel to Penticton to take on the first-place Harlequins (5-1). Two weeks after that, Merritt hosts the Kelowna Crows (2-4).
“Every game is a must-win,” stated Brigden, “but we’re feeling pretty confident right now about making the championship game.”