It was an all out war for the Central Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association Girls Rugby league title Monday at Titans Park in Red Deer, with the Rimbey Spartans battling to a thrilling 34-17 victory over the Hunting Hills Lightning.
The two teams pushed each other to the limit from the opening kick off on, neither side giving an inch until late in the second half when the Spartans managed four straight trys.
“We’re really so happy, we knew were going to have to fight hard and we fought hard and we came out on top,” said Rimbey head coach Ceara Newman.
Newman was incredibly complimentary of their opponent in the final, explaining that both teams overcame the odds to even make it to the final in the first place.
“I was expecting a good game. I knew they were going to be coming for us,” she said.
“This is their first time in the league final and only our third. It says a lot, we’re a tier 3 team and they’re a tier 2. Both of us beat tier 1 teams in our league. They have incredible athletes, they’re well coached. They’re awesome.”
Hunting Hills opened the scoring early in the game, but Spartans co-captains Courtney Holtkamp and Lora Lee both scored trys before half to take a 14-5 lead into the break.
The Lightning jumped out of the gate in the second half with back-to-back trys to take a 17-14 lead, but Holtkamp again barrelled her way in for another score to earn back the advantage.
“I think our biggest strength is we can run the ball both blind and wide,” Newman added. “So I’ve got some really good runners in my forward pack and my backline. So, we’re able to have some variety in our play. That makes a huge difference for us because we’re not always running the same direction and it’s hard to defend.”
Holtkamp said after the game she was proud of the way her team pushed through adversity to win the league title.
“It feels awesome, the girls played really well. We just played out hearts out,” she said.
Her co-captain Lee added that it was extra special beating the Lightning in such a hard fought game because the two squads are friends off the field.
“I’m just glad it was against Hunting Hills because they’re really good rivals and it was just a really good game,” she said, as Holtkamp added, “They pushed us to our limits.”
The Spartans will line up against the William E. Hay Stettler Wildcats on Wednesday in Rimbey to determine who makes the trip to provincials.
In Red Deer, the Notre Dame Cougars will play the Lindsay Thurber Raiders on Wednesday for the right to represent the Central Zone at provincials in Edmonton.