Eventually, the gym walls of Earl Marriott Secondary are going to run out of room for rugby banners, but in the meantime, space will need to be made for at least one more, after the senior boys team edged the Yale Lions for a Fraser Valley championship Wednesday.
But boy, was it close.
The Mariners edged their Abbotsford rivals 24-22 to win a Fraser Valley banner they’ve had a stranglehold on for the better part of the last decade, and they did it in dramatic fashion – winning on a convert kick from Takoda McMullin with no time left on the game clock.
Just moments before, Takoda had set up his twin brother, Talon, for the game-tying try.
Perhaps fitting, considering their recent dominance in the regional showdown, the Mariners will be the last team to ever win a Fraser Valley banner, as a province-wide re-alignment of zones is set to take effect next year.
EMS defeated R.E. Mountain Secondary of Langley in the Fraser Valley semifinal game.
The Mariners now head into triple-A rugby provincial championships as the No. 1 seed – Yale is right behind them at No. 2. The tournament begins Wednesday in Abbotsford, and wraps up Saturday.
And if Earl Marriott – who played in the five-team premier league during the regular season – is to have success at the eight-team B.C.-wide tournament, it’s likely that they’ll need performances from the McMullin twins that are similar to Wednesday’s. Against Yale, the two brothers combined to score all four tries for the victors.
However, despite such strong performances, it was the Lions who controlled much of the play, especially in the early parts of the game. Yale led 10-7 at halftime, then extended the lead to 17-7 after a converted try in the second half.
After the two sides trades chances – and tries – Yale led by 10 as the clock ticked down to its final minutes. With seven to play, Takoda scored his second try of the game to bridge the game to 22-17, while set the stage for Talon’s game-tying score with less than 30 seconds left on the clock.
As the top seed at provincials, Marriott will now face No. 8 Handsworth on Wednesday, 2 p.m. at Abbotsford’s Exhibition Park (Field 2).