An extra five minutes could have allowed the Saskatchewan Rivers Dragons to end their season on a winning note Saturday in Saskatoon.
After falling behind 12-0 at halftime to the Warman Springboks, the Rivers Dragons rattled off 10 unanswered points in the Rowlands Cup final but the final whistle came just as momentum was on their side.
“Everything was finally starting to swing our way and we had them on their heels in the last couple of minutes,” coach Justin Derkach said.
“It was just too little too late for us. We had a few too many turnovers early on and Warman was able to capitalize on it.”
Following a fifth place result at the provincial championships earlier this month, the Rivers Dragons had a 2-1 record to reach the Rowlands Cup championship game.
They lost 27-5 to the Springboks in the first game but bounced back with a 24-7 win over the Saskatoon Badgers and a 29-10 triumph over the Lashburn Lucky.
“It took us a little while for us to wake up out there and we didn’t play some great defence in that first game against Warman,” Derkach said. “We knew that we needed to win our last two games in order to have a shot of just reaching the final and the guys came out and played well.
“Byran Farrell had a really good day for us and Jonty Kruger led the way for us on defence, but it was a real group effort. We had a number of second year guys that were making key tackles and keeping things close.”
Farrell and Kruger both had successful tries for the Rivers Dragons during the day, along with Thayne Clarke, Jacob Beauchesne and Dante Doell.
Following a year-end banquet on Thursday evening, preparations will begin for the 2020 campaign for the Rivers Dragons, which will see a slightly different looking lineup for the squad.
“We’re going to be losing some key players and leaders from our core, so it’s important to have our returning guys step up and to find some new players to help with our overall depth,” Derkach said.
“That depth is huge during the course of a short season. You’ll have guys that are banged up or miss time due to injuries and it’s important to have a few extra players on the team to help fill those holes.”