OAKVILLE, Ont. - The Sheridan Bruins men's rugby team (8-1 OCAA) made the most of their first opportunity to play for the league crown, climbing out an early 10-0 hole and holding off St. Lawrence down the stretch to claim the OCAA Championship, after a 31-29 victory.
"We played freakin' awesome," head coach Rick Bria said. "Our guys have worked so hard all year, they deserve everything that came to them. We knew that were going to be in tough, especially with the forwards, but the boys did it. They really dug deep, even when we were going backwards in the scrums, they still persevered. They didn't let up and I can't say enough about what our guys did today."
St. Lawrence connected on a penalty (Ty Shemko) and scored a try (D'Shawn Bowen) in the opening seven minutes, to take an early 10-0.
After the Vikings' Vasko Alexander was sent to the sin bin, the Double-Blue pounced on the opportunity.
Had Hamade kicked a penalty to get the Bruins on the board, then took off from inside the Sheridan 40-metre mark, split a pair of Vikings, then ran two of them into each other, before touching it down.
He also tacked on the convert, pull Sheridan level, 10-10.
St. Lawrence would take the lead into the interval though, after an Andrew Merry try was set up by a scrum win at the Sheridan five-metre mark.
The convert was missed, making it 15-10.
Early in the second half, an Owen Schimpl try pulled Sheridan level once again, and a successful conversion from Hamade gave Sheridan their first lead, 17-15.
Nearing the hour mark, they extended that lead to 24-15 with a Tristian Hylton try.
St. Lawrence won a scrum at their own five-metre line and tried to kick to relieve the pressure, but Alex McCallion blocked it and Hylton was on the spot to corral the ball and touch it down.
Dominant in the scrum all day, the Vikings pushed the Bruins back far enough that Alexander could pull the ball out and touch it down, narrowing the gap to just two points, 24-22.
Sheridan would push the margin back to nine, 31-22, with Matt DaCosta supplying the try.
After a Bruin line out, the ball was swung around the back line, finally settling in DaCosta's hands, who made one tackler miss before powering through two more to get it to ground.
St. Lawrence gave the game a dramatic conclusion with a 77th minute try - once again Vasko, and once again out of the scrum - but were unable to climb all the way back.
Jad Hamade was named Championship MVP - scoring 16 points - while Hylton, DaCosta were named Championship All-Stars, as were Kurt Nguyen and Elias Pickell from St. Lawrence.
"I'm humbled," Hamade said. "The foundation has been built up over the last few years and to get to where we are now, it's a huge deal - not just for us playing now - but everyone who has played for Sheridan."
St. Lawrence 3, Sheridan 0 | SLC Penalty Kick, Ty Shemko
St. Lawrence 10, Sheridan 10 | SLC Try, D'Shawn Bowen (Ty Shemko convert)
St. Lawrence 10, Sheridan 3 | Sheridan Penalty Kick, Jad Hamade
St. Lawrence 10, Sheridan 10 | Sheridan Try, Jad Hamade (Jad Hamade convert)
St. Lawrence 15, Sheridan 10 | SLC Try, Andrew Merry (Convert failed)
Sheridan 17, St. Lawrence 15 | Sheridan Try, Owen Schimpl (Jad Hamade convert)
Sheridan 24, St. Lawrence 15 | Sheridan Try, Tristian Hylton (Jad Hamade convert)
Sheridan 24, St. Lawrence 22 | SLC Try, Vasko Alexander (Ty Shemko convert)
Sheridan 31, St. Lawrence 22 | Sheridan Try, Matt DaCosta (Jad Hamade convert)
Sheridan 31, St. Lawrence 29 | SLC Try, Vasko Alexander (Ty Shemko convert)