Whiskey Jacks hang tough against Wild Oats

Bianca Bharti/Daily Herald Colm Cournane kicks a convert for the Prince Albert Whiskey Jacks during their meeting with the Saskatoon Wild Oaks Wednesday night.

In their last meeting against the Saskatoon Wild Oats, the Prince Albert Whisky Jacks lost on the road by a score of 35-7.

Although they were unable to get revenge in a 36-35 affair at Max Clunie Field Wednesday night, coach Dominic Elsbury was thrilled with the amount of improvement his team showed in their second meeting of the year with one of the top clubs in the province.

“I felt we did a lot better this time around as we were a lot more physical and a lot more organized out there,” Elsbury said.

“The last time we played against them, we didn’t get into our own game and we got beat by quite a bit. Since then, we’ve got some more experience for our younger guys and a few of our senior players have come back into the lineup, which has allowed us to return to our regular level of performance and I’m pleased to see that out of our group.”

After giving up three tries early in the game, the Whiskey Jacks were able to claw their way back in what proved to be an evenly matched affair.

The Wild Oats would have the final say, however, as they elected to kick a three-point penalty in the late stages of the second half to take the win.

“Obviously it’s a tough way to lose, but how we matched up with the Wild Oats has me excited for the rest of the year as we gear up towards the playoffs,” Elsbury said.

“Having Kevin Mageto back in the lineup for us was huge. He had been out for the last couple of weeks but his leadership and the physicality that he brings makes a big difference.”

Elsbury also felt that Pelasio Vereakula and Tuks Ratuki played key roles in Wednesday’s performance.

“They both have a real sense of attacking flair and our team really plays well off of them,” Elsbury said. “They have a skill level that’s unmatched in our province.”

With a 3-3 record following their loss to the Wild Oats, the Whiskey Jacks will look to return to the win column next Wednesday, as they’ll visit the Saskatoon Gophers.

They will then return to Max Clunie Field next Saturday for a 2 p.m. tilt with the Regina Highlanders.

“There have been times that we haven’t played well away from home, so we’re focused on having a strong mentality heading into that game Wednesday,” Elsbury said.

“Even though we’ve played them already this year, we haven’t faced the Highlanders a lot in recent years so they are still a bit of a unknown for us. As such, we have to be ready for anything.”