It had been almost a year since the Prince Albert Whiskey Jacks took to the pitch at Max Clunie Field.
Despite the wait, the Saskatoon Goats prevented them from having a successful homecoming as they came away with the win in a high-scoring 72-33 North Saskatchewan Rugby Union affair Thursday night.
“Obviously, we were hoping for a better result for our first game of the year in Prince Albert,” Whiskey Jacks player Darcy Murphy said. “We did some good things out there but the mistakes that we made hurt us in the end.
“It was just mental errors. When you cough up the ball and turn it over to an experienced team like this, they are going to turn it back up the field and score points.”
Part of those unforced errors may come down to the fact that the Whiskey Jacks are still working out some early season jitters, as they’ve played just a handful of games due to changes in the NSRU structure.
“We played in 15 games over the course of last year and were able to build momentum as the season went on,” Murphy said. “When it’s a shorter season like it is this year, you have to get that chemistry built right away.
“It’s a team game and if you can manage your mistakes, the better off you are for it. You can’t put a Wayne Gretzky type of player out on the field and expect him to take things over for you. Rugby doesn’t work that way.”
Despite the lopsided score in favour of the Goats, there were a number of positives that the Whiskey Jacks could take out of Thursday’s contest.
“Our rucking and ball handling was really good and I thought our mauling was fantastic,” Murphy said. “We were able to get one of our tries on a set play and it’s shame that we weren’t able to use that play more during the game.”
The Whiskey Jacks will be back in action on Wednesday night at Max Clunie Field as they’ll take on the Saskatoon Kradgers at 8 p.m.
“We played them already this season and lost by 10 points, but we are a step or two better than we were in that game,” Murphy said.
“If we can build off of some good practices this week, we should have a good game against them.”