From the opening moments of the high school rugby city semi-final Wednesday, it was clear the Notre Dame Cougars hit the field with something to prove.
By the end, the Cougars exerted their depth on a tired and depleted Hunting Hills Lightning team and the game finished 48-0 in favour of Notre Dame.
“We’re starting to come together as a team,” said Cougars coach Jon Mauro, who celebrated his birthday watching his team capture the win.
“We’re starting to work everything out and work on technique and work on all the things we need to do to be successful. Gaining that experience so that we have the depth to go further into playoffs.”
Only once was Hunting Hills really able to push the Cougars back and a strong kicking game from Notre Dame helped pin the Lightning deep on a number of occasions.
“We’re starting to realize where our strengths are and have a better understanding of the game,” Mauro added.
Notre Dame will welcome a bye-week next week, before they take on crosstown rival Lindsay Thurber Raiders on May 31 for the combined city and zone final. The winner will advance to provincials on June 9 and 10.
“We have some strong athletes. The biggest thing we’ve been working on is that structure to go along with that athletic abilities that our guys have. In reality, we have the guys that can do it, they just don’t quite know how yet,” coach Ian Rattan noted.
For Mauro, there’s a lot of development that needs to happen between now and then, especially if they hope to beat a Raiders team that has bested them twice this season, both times by just one try on the last play of the game.
“We just have to be confident in ourselves and not make those mental errors is what ended up shooting us in the foot the last two games,” he said. “I think talent wise and athleticism, we are ahead of them. They do have a couple of strong players. Overall, with our depth we are above them, we just have to show up on that day.”