While the defence wasn’t airtight and the offence lacked finish, the Banff Rugby Football Club men’s side had enough in the tank to defeat the last-place Calgary Hornets 29-28 at the Rec Grounds on June 11.
Malcolm Wilson and Fernley Simmonds scored pivotal tries in the second half to give Banff enough offence to secure victory in the team’s home opener.
Banff dominated possession through most of the first half, scoring easily on the Hornets. If not for a few mistakes, Banff would have been up by three tries, but instead ended the half with a 10-7 lead.
However, the suffocating defence that is Banff’s trademark – especially on their smaller home field – showed a few holes in the second half, letting the Hornets back in the game. Every time Banff appeared set to settle the match and take a commanding lead, the Hornets would return with points of their own, even scoring a rare penalty try. Oddly, Banff added their own penalty try minutes later.
“It was a matter of too many chiefs, not enough Indians,” said Mark ‘Hoops’ Hooper. “Too many people were worried about what others were doing and not doing their own job.”
Upset they let the 0-5 Hornets back in the game on their home field, the team will refocus its efforts for their road game against the Medicine Hats’ Ogres this weekend (June 18).
“We’ve got the ingredients to make a great cake,” Hooper said. “The problems aren’t ones we can’t fix. I’d rather go slow at the beginning of the season than at the end.”
Banff was relatively healthy going into the match, however, they were missing a few bench players. That led to complacency with the starters, Hooper said, something the team has to watch for this season.
“We have a few players who think they should just get a starting job. They have to earn it,” Hooper said.
Steve Lower has taken the departed Kalib Cupples captaincy and didn’t appear to miss a beat.
“We made some silly mistakes, but we pulled through,” Lower said. “Our backs were really good with some big hits.”
The team was happy to escape with a win, but know they’re capable of much more, and hope to defend their Southern Alberta title, plus earn another trip to the provincial finals.
Hooper also took time to congratulate Banff Community High School’s provincial championship rugby team. The clubs have had a longstanding relationship.
“People think we’re just a bunch of immigrants, but we’ve had the best players from Banff play for us. Most people return home and when those kids come back, we’re here for them.”