Whiskey Jacks beat Badgers for league title

The Prince Albert Whiskey Jacks pose for a team photo after winning the NSRU Division 2 Championship on Saturday September 16, 2017. (Peter Lozinski/Daily herald)

This year, it looked as if the North Saskatchewan Rugby Union Division Two championship would almost certainly go to the Saskatoon Badgers.

After all, they went undefeated through the season, winning most of their games by blowout.

They had a chance to claim the title Saturday on home field, taking on a team they had outscored 73-5 during the year.

But there was one thing they didn’t count on – the strong play of the Prince Albert Whiskey Jacks.

P.A. came into the game riding high on their best season ever. Only their third year in the league, the Whiskey Jacks only lost twice all year, both times at the hands of the badgers, and the 22-5 loss back on June 23 was one of the Badger’s closest games all season.

Saturday in the league finals, the Whiskey Jacks came looking for revenge.

Prince Albert opened the scoring in the division two final just three minutes in.

Tuks Ratuki scooped up the ball coming out of the scrum and dashed in for a blindside try. The conversion attempt missed, putting the Whiskey Jacks up 5-0.

They kept the pressure on.

Cam Oleksyn got the ball, beat a few defenders and dashed 60m through an open seam to score another try for the visitors. Colm Cournane nailed the convert to put P.A. on top 12-0.

“One of the tries was a fantastic run by Cam,” Coach Dominic Ellsbury said after the game.

“He went through a gap and fended off two or three defenders.”

In the second half, the Badgers pushed hard, trading tries with the Whiskey Jacks before scoring again with only two minutes left, setting up a tense finish.

P.A.’s second half try was scored on the open side by Jonty Kruger.

With time ticking down and Sskatoon down by just by five points, P.A. was awarded a penalty kick. The ball sailed through the uprights for three points to put the Whiskey Jacks up by eight – two scores – and just out of reach of the Badgers.

That would be how the game would end: 20-12 in favour of Prince Albert.

“It feels wonderful,” Ellsbury said.

“The guys played absolutely fantastically well. I couldn’t be more proud of the boys.”

For more on this story, including more game photos, a full recap and more reaction, please see Tuesday’s print or e-edition of the Daily Herald