Division 2 Finals
After defeating the Saracens in the Second Division Semi-Final, the Assassins 2 had their work cut out for them when they met the Winnipeg Wasps in the Final. It was a drizzly day which favoured the Wasps style of play in comparison to the Assassins ball in hand mentality. The Assassins got up early with a try by starting Fullback Brandon Sacrey, with Eightman Johnny Alongi slotting the conversion.
In the first half the Assassins dominated both territory and possession. In the dying minutes of the half, with the assassins pressing inside the wasps 10m, the wasps picked off an errant pass and had a clear break for score. The fans were treated with a match saving tackle from fullback Brandon Sacrey as he made up a clear 15m difference to catch one of the fastest players on the pitch that day. The assassins were able to recover from that mistake and hold off the wasp push to close out the half with a 7-0 lead. The defensive stand allowed the assassins to regain the momentum they had for most of the first half as they had dominated both the field position and possession categories, but just weren’t able to convert that into more points on the board.
Many wondered if this would prove costly. A back and forth second half saw the Wasps pull ahead 10-7 at about the 65th minute in the match. It was the Assassin’s discipline at the breakdown which was hurting them. It was the Assassins fitness which was worked on all season during practices which came through. Johnny Alongi scored a late try to put the Assassins up. Then a late kick chase recover by inspirational captain Pat Hansen saw reserve forward Dylon Lockhart support well and take Hansen’s offload to score another try. This sealed the victory for the Assassins who hoisted the Second Division Championship trophy. Final score 19-10 for the Assassins!
A deserved award for a side who had moving parts all year long. Led by Fly Half Pat Hansen and on the back of an impressive group of young forwards this side got the Assassins off to a good start to the day by winning this trophy for the first time in 9 seasons.
Fired up by the efforts of the Assassins victory during the Second Division Final, Assassins 1 took the field to take on their fierce rival the Wombats in the Premier Final. Again, in this match the Assassins ball in hand mentality was on full display. Phase after phase the Assassins would build pressure with ball in hand running into the large wall of defense in the form of the Wombat forward pack. The Assassins entered the second half up 12-5 on the back of tries by Winger Jordan MacKinnon and star Centre Joel Verville. As the second half progressed, the Wombats did what they could to slow down the Assassin ball at the breakdown and use their set piece to their advantage. It would not work and the Assassins defense scrambled to halt all Wombat attacks. The hearts of the entire 22 men who took the field for the Assassins in the Premier Final was on display in defense. A second try by MacKinnon and later by reserve forward Nancy Aganze along with a penalty kick by Verville saw the Assassins make history. Final score 29-12 for the Assassins!
Not only was this the only season apart from 1998 that the Assassins won both the Second and First Division Championship; it was also the first time the Assassins had won the First Division Championship 3 season in a row after winning in 2014 and 2015 as well. The Assassins had made history under the guidance of player/coach Jarett McLaughlin. The spoils of 2016 can be attributed to many things, but more so to do with the fact of the strong bond the current playing group has amongst one another. The club will proudly take the trophies with them into the Assassins 50th season in 2017 and this group feels like there is still more they would like to achieve together!
Also a big shout out to the Assassins Womens team whom were out in full force to cheer on the men. Their encouragement and hand crafted signs put the opposition cheering section to shame. This is another example of how tight-knit the Assassins RFC are as a whole!