There’s a reason the Vernon Jackals are the four-time reigning Okanagan Rugby Union champions.
They’re pretty good.
And the young Salmon Arm Yeti found that out Saturday in the Shuswap.
After nearly a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the ORU kicked off its 2021 season with the experienced Jackals reaching the try line 13 times in a 79-7 mauling of the Yeti.
“It wasn’t the prettiest rugby, it was sloppy out there, but that was to be expected,” said Vernon captain Adam Morad. “But it was good to see so many new young guys out for Salmon Arm. I expect they will be much improved when we meet again in September.”
Vernon received the opening kickoff and quickly took command of the game within a few phases, and after 10 short minutes they found themselves up four scores to zero after two tries apiece from veterans Kyle Richardson and Bryan Cragg on the wings.
The rust of so much time off started to show as the Jackals piled up three yellow cards and a red causing them to play shorthanded for the majority of the match to follow. Some tense time spent on the defensive goal line was eased with some long break-out runs from rookie Riley Bos, who scored his first try in men’s Div. 3 rugby and standoff Lewis McKnight who ended up with a pair of scores and converted 7 of 13 conversions on the day.
The second half had Vernon on the back foot playing a man down and the Yeti would eventually find a way to punch one in on a penalty-riddled possession. That seemed to galvanize the Jackals as some stiff defense from leaders Jed Miller, Lucas Hofer and Josh Cooper shut the door for the Yeti for the rest of the match, each of them rewarded with tries for their efforts.
The Penticton Harlequins round out the three-team loop and they will host Salmon Arm in the next league action Saturday, Aug. 7. The Jackals are off til Aug. 14 when they visit the Harlequins.