The Bow Valley Grizzlies men's team were a perfect 12-0 on the regular season and are heading into the south final as the top-ranked team.
A Sept. 9 game that had absolutely no impact on the final standings saw some vicious play from the visiting Calgary Hornets, who finished a distant sixth on the season.
"It was super brutal," agrees Grizz head coach Ty Hawes. "The Hornets came into the game with a lot of bad energy. I think they were disappointed they were getting beaten so badly. So you know, we left the payback on the scoreboard."
It was a 55-5 final with the Hornets' lone successful try coming in the second half.
On the final try of the game, Grizz captain Dave Evans received a headshot that sent him staggering to the ground.
"It was a very cheap, cheap shot, and I think that player is going to get suspended," says Hawes. "I hope he does because there's no need or place for that on the rugby pitch."
"I think the boys had a great game," says Hawes. "We started with 15 players, so we were struggling, but they came out and played a great game. It was some of the best stuff I've seen all year. Hopefully, we can carry that on to the final."
The Grizzlies topped the men's recreational league with an astounding 568 points, punching in an average of 47 points per game. Their defense was equally impressive, allowing just 87 points. That's just over seven points a game.
"I think coming into the season, we knew we'd be like a pretty quality team, and we were debating on whether to go into seconds or thirds."
Concern over having consistent bench strength was one of the key factors in staying in the recreational league.
"We've played a couple of games this year where we've only had 15 or 16 players, so it's hard to play a division up when you don't have a whole lot of depth."
Instead, they focussed on developing their systems.
"We've had a bit of a focus on defence and you can definitely see it. I'm proud of the fact that we haven't had 100 points scored against us this season and we've almost scored 600."
But the Grizz aren't about to let it get to their heads. There's unfinished business on the field, and a desire to challenge for the provincial championship.
The Grizz face the Red Deer Titans in the south final this Saturday at noon at the Calgary Rugby Union. The winner advances to the provincial finals the following week.
The Titans were the next toughest team in the league, losing only twice, both times to the Grizz.
Hawes says they aren't to be taken lightly.
"They were missing guys in their games against us, so I expect them to come with a full squad and it'll be a tough game. It's certainly not going to be a walkover. It's gonna take a lot of work and the guys are going to have to leave every ounce on the pitch."
He says it will be key to complete tackles, have a strong transition, and tire out the Titans by spreading the ball around on the attack.
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