Players of the Bow Valley Grizzlies took a drink from the Grizzly Bear Cup for the first time yesterday and now have their eyes set on some loftier goals.
Yesterday, the Grizz hosted the Banff Bears in their third and final match of the season and went undefeated against the mountain community rival.
It also left the Grizzlies undefeated with their ninth straight win of the season to climb to the top of the men's recreational league.
The Grizz grabbed a 24-5 lead by the end of the first half, and after a sluggish start to the second half, the Bears made it 24-12 with their second successful try of the game. That didn't sit well with the hometown team and sparked three successful tries to take an unsurpassable 45-12 lead. The Bears scored two in the dying minutes to end the game, 45-24.
"They did not stop," says Grizz head coach Ty Hawes. "They came with a huge game and had a massive work rate. They're a very good skilled club and we had to battle right to the final whistle.
"I'm really proud of how our boys played and the work they put in. It definitely showed."
Lucas Douchin hails from France and was number 10 (flyhalf) for the Grizz. He was visiting some friends in the area and was eager to hit the field. Hawes gave him a shout-out after the game.
"He's definitely a talent. We got him in a game and it came at the right time because a couple of our regular 10s were out of action this week."
The flyhalf's role is to organize and communicate well with the forwards and backs. The kicking effectiveness of the flyhalf has a big impact on how a team performs.
There's a natural rivalry and shared joy of the game between the Bow Valley Grizzlies and Banff Bears that's evident every time they take to the field.
"I think in rural rugby in general there's a huge connection between the guys," says Hawes. "It's a pretty huge piece for rugby off and on the pitch."
The Grizzly Bears Cup was created a few seasons back to be claimed by the team coming out on top in their season meetings. Last season it was the Bears.
Grizz captain Dave Evans says the team is not content with winning just one cup this season.
"We're hoping to have two more when we win the city finals and provincials. We're gonna have two more cup games, so winning this first one gets us on the right track."
That makes their next game especially important. They host the Red Deer Titans on Saturday (Aug. 19) in a game that could determine who will advance to the Sept. 16 championship game.
The Titans have only lost one game this season, and it was to the Grizz 36-5 early in the season. Only one of the two teams can advance to the league championship.
"The Titans will bring everything they have," says Evans, "because if they lose to us next week, then it's the end of their season. They won't make the post-season, so it's gonna be a huge game for them. We're gonna have to come ready to war."
Game time is 3 p.m. at Mitford Park.
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