The Vikes, who play in the B.C. Premiership, exploded for 52 first-half points – and didn’t slow down in the second. Victoria ran in several tries from long distances, showing off a high level of both skill and speed. And the Maritime University champion Panthers were unable to keep pace.
Victoria head coach Doug Tate had plenty of praise for the opponent.
“We play teams every week that are physical, faster and bigger, and I think they were outsized against guys with a little more experience,” said Tate. “Hats off to them for not giving up. They played two hard games in two days, after a 19-hour bus ride. That’s a tough ask.”
The Panthers faced a huge hurdle in matches against powerhouse teams from B.C. and Ontario. Head Coach Charles Waddell was most of proud of his team’s work rate throughout the two matches against Victoria and host Guelph.
“There was no quit, which we came into the tournament hoping to display,” he said. “We knew that we couldn’t necessarily compete with these bigger schools but we could work hard and show what kind of heart UPEI has.”
Thirteen different players had tries for the Vikes, including two each from wing Noah Bain and eight man Jackson Matthews, who also took Man of the Match honours. Outside half Brennig Prevost took over the tournament scoring lead with 10 converts for 20 points.
Victoria had the ball for most of the match and began the onslaught early. Bain touched down after an incredible long run down the right sideline in the fourth minute. Flanker Thomas Heuser added another try in the sixth minute before Matthews scored his first try in the ninth minute for a quick 12-0 lead.
The Vikes kept going forward, stealing the ball the rare time UPEI had possession, and sending waves of attack at the Panthers. Despite the scoreline, Waddell knew the experience would be beneficial for his side.
“It’s great for our guys because it’s exposure to a higher level of rugby,” he said. “Now they see what they hope to achieve at some point in the future. Playing these guys, seeing how well organized, how fit they are, it gives them a goal. They will have new-found belief that given some hard work, they can compete with these guys in the future.”
Victoria will now play the host Gryphons, Saturday at 11 a.m. Tate said the Vikes aren’t necessarily used to playing on fast turf and he knows the weather will be a challenge, with plenty of rain expected for the weekend.
“It’s going to be tough,” he said, acknowledging the need to deny the physical Gryphon lineup possession. “They’re the home team, they play all their games on turf. I thought they were physical and well organized.”
“There’s no question we will have to defend well. We fell off some tackles today. We’re definitely going to have to be on our game tomorrow.”
For more information on results and recaps, visit Tournament Landing Page