PENDLETON — The Pendleton Sasquatch Rugby Club woke from its offseason hibernation with a return to the pitch in recent weeks. But in the squad’s first league match Saturday against Lincoln/Westside, the Pendleton club still looked a little drowsy.
The Sasquatch fell 51-10 to the Portland-based Lincoln/Westside in Oregon rugby’s Division Two play, an early season game full of early season mistakes for Pendleton.
“The big thing about (Saturday) — and it’s a really good thing about today — is we don’t have to start over with a lot of things,” the local boys’ coach Eric Gabriel said. “Every player had his own little victories. He also had his crap-outs, too.”
Isaiah Fair, a football running back by trade, adds some explosiveness to this year’s Lincoln squad, scoring a try of his own while playing limited minutes at wing back. More importantly, Aisea said, the bursts from he and fellow football convert Joey Dunne — who also touched the ball down for a try — opened up opportunities for the rest of the team.
“Those new kids, they know how to move. We really needed speed in our back line,” the 15-year old Aisea said. “Our forwards are good but our back line needed to work on some things and it really cooperated (Saturday).”
The Sasquatch got on the board just before halftime with a short burst by back Hunter Erwin. The 17-year old took control of the ball immediately following a Lincoln penalty and took advantage of a line of defenders trying to catch their breadth.
The team in possession after a penalty can kick the ball upfield, but with the try line just meters away, Erwin quick kicked it to himself and bowled through the line for a 5-point try.
“We were just paying attention to how the defense was playing and paying attention to the gaps that they were leaving open and just relying on the ability to break through tackles,” said Erwin, of Pendleton High.
Pendleton missed the conversion kick to head to halftime down 22-5.
Similar to the first half, Lincoln came out energized after the break scoring 15 points in the first 14 minutes. By the time Nathan Boozer broke a long run for a Sasquatch try in the 57th minute of the 70-minute contest, the victory was out of reach at 44-10.
The ruggers go on the road this weekend to McMinnville this Saturday and play their next home match on Saturday, April 7.