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Comets take rugby tournament title in Edmonton 

Posted on May 4, 2023 by admin

By Garrett Simmons

Westwind Weekly News

Sometimes, the championship game isn’t the one that’s the hardest to win.

On the weekend in Edmonton, the Raymond Comets rugby 15s team won the tournament final with a decisive 43-0 win over Grande Prairie,

But it was Raymond’s semifinal triumph that was the talk of the tournament.

Against a game Sturgeon Composite High School squad, Raymond was on the ropes early, and had to battle back in a nail-biting contest that wasn’t put away until late in a 17-5 win.

“They scored first – they came out swinging,” said Raymond coach Dan Bikman of the Sturgeon squad that provided an extremely tough test. “They’re similar to us – a small town team that is gritty and tough.”

Down 5-0 early, Raymond responded with a try of its own, and then converted on a difficult kick from the corner to go up 7-5, a lead the Comets would not be able to extend until very late.

With about 10 minutes left, Raymond’s fullback collected the ball outside and had a narrow one-metre gap in the Sturgeon defence to exploit.

“She shot the gap and scored,” said Bikman, whose team followed that up with a long 60-yard score to create an insurmountable advantage. “It was a two-point game forever. It was hard hitting and it was a good test for us.”

The semifinal set up a bit of an anti-climactic final, as the northern Alberta city team just wasn’t up for the challenge.

“They were a solid team but couldn’t handle our full offensive attack,” said Bikman.

Raymond’s tournament began the way it ended – with a dominant win. Bishop O’Byrne was no match for the Comets, and fell 53-0.

“They were a decent team on defence but their offence really couldn’t move the ball on us,” said Bikman, who added his team really showcased its full arsenal in the opener. “We’ve got a nice, balanced team. That’s what’s fun about this team – it’s a different person scoring the tries all the time. I think this year’s team is as talented as any team we’ve ever had.”

Depth is a major strength this season, according to Bikman, who added the 2023 team has players on the bench who in previous years, would very likely be in the starting 15.

With all of that talent, a road trip to Alberta’s capital was just the recipe to have the team gel, and that teamwork was on full display in another big win, a 37-0 dismantling of St. Francis Xavier.

“They had a little more speed and a little more punch,” said Bikman.

And while the 15s team dominated in Edmonton, Raymond’s 7s team competed in the second 7s series of the season. Once again, Raymond went unbeaten, until a game with Lethbridge Collegiate Institute. A week ago, the Clippers dominated the Comets, who came ready to play this time around.

“We were up with a minute left and got scored on and lost by three,” said Bikman. “It was a great improvement to close that gap.”

Raymond’s 7s team will get another crack at LCI this weekend in Vulcan in the third and final 7s series of the season.

On Wednesday, Raymond’s JV and SV also took to the pitch. Scores from those games were unavailable at press time.

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