Whiskey Jacks lose provincial semifinal to Gophers

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Armand Schellenberg makes his way up the field for the Prince Albert Whiskey Jacks at Max Clunie Field earlier this month.

A pair of yellow cards in the early stages of the match proved too much for the Prince Albert Whiskey Jacks to overcome Friday, as they suffered a 48-10 loss to the Saskatoon Gophers in a Division II provincial semifinal contest in Saskatoon.

“We scored in the first minute and had the momentum rolling, but then we had those two yellow cards in the span of a couple of minutes, so we were down a couple of men and facing an 80-kilometer wind about 10 minutes into the first half,” Whiskey Jacks player Darcy Murphy said.

“As a result, they were able to score 30 points in a 10-minute stretch and we found ourselves down 34-5 at halftime. It’s just one of those things where the momentum shifted like a tidal wave and we found ourselves in quite a hole.”

Although the second half of the game was much closer, the 10-minute run by the Gophers was hard to claw back from for the defending Division II champions.

“I have to hand it to the Gophers,” Murphy said. “They really brought it to us on Friday and it was one of the best performances I’ve seen from them in quite some time.”

Although the Whiskey Jacks have a chance to finish off the year on a winning note as they’ll play the Regina Highlanders in a friendly match at 2 p.m. Saturday at Max Clunie Field, the team is already looking towards next season and building from a challenging campaign.

“We need to play a lot of rugby to play well and if we aren’t getting the number of games like we did a year ago, we need to make sure that we are working hard and staying focused in between those league games,” Murphy said.

“We need to be consistent in practice and while it’s easy to stay focused when you are playing every week, we need to find a way to play the game better.”