Rivers Dragons finish in fifth place at provincials

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Byran Farrell boots the ball down the field for the Saskatchewan Rivers Dragons during a game against the Warman Springbox at Max Clunie Field Wednesday evening.

As he looked back on last weekend’s provincial championships in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Rivers Dragons coach Paul Roy equated the tournament to the work of Charles Dickens.

“It was like A Tale of Two Cities,” Roy said Wednesday. “There was a spring of hope and a winter of despair.”

Although the Rivers Dragons finished the event in fifth place, their journey through the field was unlike any they’ve had in recent years.

After earning a convincing 41-0 win over the Regina Scots in their opening game last Saturday, things went completely pear-shaped in their second contest as they dropped a 41-0 affair to the eventual champion Notre Dame Hounds.

“Things were out of hand after three minutes,” Roy said. “In about a 10-second span, we lost Elijah McPherson to a broken collarbone and then each team lost two players due to a red card after a mutual fracas.

“In our 18 years of play, we’ve never had a red card and then we had two happen, so that’s very out of the ordinary for us. In just a few seconds we went from potentially reaching the podium to being out of the mix as we lost three guys, including two of our most experienced leaders.”

Following a 25-10 defeat to the tournament runner-up Regina Rogues in the quarter-final round, the Rivers Dragons finished up the day on a winning note with an 19-5 triumph in the fifth place contest over the Notre Dame Hounds ‘B’ team.

“Although we were down three guys and lost one more due to an ankle injury, I thought it was a pretty even game and we could have won if we had a few bounces go our way against the Rogues,” Roy said.

“It takes a full 14 minutes to win a game and that’s what we saw in our last game. Everyone was giving it all out there and determined to make things work.”

The win over the Hounds also gave the Rivers Dragons coaching staff a glimpse into the future, as the squad was made up of players that will be on next year’s team.

“It was a win that was against all odds as we had eight players and they had 13,” Roy said. “As a coaching staff, it was probably our favourite game of the year.

“They rose above the challenges and worked through all of the body blows that they dealt with during the day.”

The Rivers Dragons were back in action for a mini-tournament at Max Clunie Field Wednesday, as they dropped a 19-15 affair to the Warman Springbox and played to a scoreless draw against the Saskatoon Badgers.

The team’s final event of the season is the annual Rowlands Cup tournament, which will be held in Saskatoon on Saturday, June 15.