Whiskey Jacks win big in season opener

The Prince Albert Whiskey Jacks struck early and often on route to a big win in their season opener. -- Photo from the Prince Albert Whiskey Jacks Facebook page.

It may be early in the North Saskatchewan rugby campaign, but the Prince Albert Whiskey Jacks are in mid-season form.

The Whiskey Jacks struck early and often on route to a big 38-0 win over the Saskatoon Kradgers in their season opener on Wednesday. Head coach Darcy Murphy was pleased with the club’s strong start.

“We played outstanding,” Murphy said. “I think we were expecting a little bit of rust for the first game of the year, but we had a powerful game. We took control of it start to finish and it was nice to see.”

Derek Haines led the way with three tries for the Whiskey Jacks, while Colm Cournane kicked four converts. Murphy said the club made good decisions on both sides of the ball, which helped them build up a big lead.

“At the end of the game I didn’t really have much to say technical wise, or identify a ridiculous number of mistakes or anything like that,” Murphy said. “It was a really well-played game and it was exciting for us to come out of the blocks like that.”

The two teams had less than ideal conditions to deal with as the skies opened up and doused Max Clunie Field with a deluge of rain Wednesday evening. The storm made for wet and slippery conditions, but the Whiskey Jacks were able to quickly adapt and build a big lead.

While Haines did the most damage, Ben Myo, Matthew Tysiaczny, Miek Harasyn, and Hugh Pritchett also scored tries for Prince Albert. Murphy said it was encouraging to get contributions from so many different players.

“We’ve got forwards scoring and we had some of the fast wingers scoring,” he said. “We were attacking well on the inside and then getting the ball wide, so that’s nice to see. It’s part of the complete team game offensively. We moved the ball really, really well last night.”

The Whiskey Jacks hit the road for the second game of the season when they face the Goats in Saskatoon on June 21. They then return home the following week to play the Saskatoon Badgers on June 28. Both games start at 8 p.m.

Murphy said the Whiskey Jacks have their eyes on the playoffs after the last three seasons were disrupted by COVID.

“Obviously, we’re off to a great start, and we want to go deep into the playoffs again this year,” he said. “Obviously with COVID, everybody had some stumbling blocks in the sports world (with) trying to get back on track.

“This is our first full season back after COVID where we’ve got the schedule start to finish. We beat a good team last night. We beat them very handily, so I’m hoping everybody’s got high expectations this season.”