Perfect weekend for Rivers Dragons in home tournament

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Jonty Kruger takes control of the ball for the Saskatchewan Rivers Dragons on Saturday afternoon at Max Clunie Field.

With the North Saskatchewan Junior Rugby League Sevens Championship on the horizon, the Saskatchewan Rivers Dragons are rounding into fine form.

The Dragons posted a 3-0 record in their home tournament of the regular season at Prime Ministers’ Park and Max Clunie Field Saturday, as they finished up their tournament slate with an overall record of 7-1.

“It was an awesome weekend for us,” Rivers Dragons player Jonty Kruger said. “We have a great group of veterans on our team and we’ve been working hard since our first practice together.

The Dragons opened up Saturday’s slate with a pair of dominating wins as they shutout the Lashburn Lucky by a score of 43-0 and followed that up with a 39-0 triumph over the Saskatoon Badgers.

They finished up the triple-header with a 19-14 victory over the Warman Krems.

“It was our best rugby of the year without a doubt,” Dragons coach Justin Derkach said. “We were getting out of the rucks the quickest and we were making smart plays out there.

“There’s some things we can improve on our defence by committing to the tackle and not dancing around a bit, but everything else is good.”

Although they don’t know which teams they will be facing yet, the Dragons are pleased with the position that they are in ahead of the league championship, which will be held on Saturday, May 25 in Warman.

“It’s really just minor things that we can be better at, such as our defence and our overall fitness,” Kruger said.

“Our ball handling on offence is really good and everything’s coming into focus.”

The Dragons opened up their season on Thursday, May 2 in Saskatoon with a 27-0 win over the Krems, a 29-5 triumph over the Badgers and a 36-5 victory over the Saskatoon Wild Oats.

“We get to start our training a little bit earlier than those teams and I think that shows during the first few weeks of the season before everyone gets up to speed,” Derkach said. “There will be a lot of close games between us before the year comes to an end.

“One of the highlights for us was seeing returning players Austin Belair and Dante Doell scoring their first try’s and also seeing Carter Wilson getting his first career try on his first ever touch of the ball. I was talking to Paul (Roy) and Mark (McElligott) afterwards and they have never seen that happen in all of the years that they have been coaching.”

The Dragons then split a pair of games last Saturday in Lashburn as they picked up a 15-5 win over the Lucky and lost a 10-7 affair to the Badgers.

They also played an exhibition game later in the day against Lashburn, who came away with a 15-10 victory.

“Some of our older guys were unable to make it down for those games due to prior commitments, but it allowed our younger players to get some valuable minutes,” Derkach said.

“The games ended up being much closer as a result of that, but I think that’s going to be huge for our newer faces as the year continues.”