Warriors punch ticket to provincial rugby finals – The Carillon

The Eastman Warriors made quick work of their semi-final opponent in the Manitoba Rugby Premier league, easily locking up a spot in the league finals by defeating the Winnipeg Wasps 75-8 at AD Penner Park Sept. 17.

The Warriors looked unstoppable in the first half, racking up try after try and easily putting the game out of reach early. The teams entered the half-time break with Eastman leading 54-8.

In the second half complacency set in, with head coach Eric Laflamme warning his team post-match that kind of play won’t get it done in the final.

An Eastman Warriors player plows through a couple of attempted tacklers to ground the ball and score a first-half try. The Warriors looked dominant in the first half of their semi-final, opening up a 54-8 lead heading into the break.

“That first half was perfection,” Laflamme said.

“It was an exercise in excellence. And the second half was an exercise in frustration.”

It was a familiar tale for Laflamme, as despite the team’s unbeaten record this season he urged them to play more disciplined rugby. As the second half rolled on, sloppy penalties came back into Eastman’s game, with a Warriors player shown a yellow card for a high tackle as well.

The second-half performance was especially frustrating to Laflamme, who urged his team at half-time to think of the game as resetting to 0-0. Despite his message, it was clear the team relaxed with such a big lead.

“At the end of the day, as frustrated as I am with the second half, we won a semi-final,” Laflamme said.

“We won it after the half, and everyone coasted. That’s good, but we could have used the opportunity to practice systems against an adversary.”

In the other semi-final, the Manitoba Wombats defeated the Winnipeg Assassins 27-15. Before this season, the Warriors had never defeated either the Assassins or the Wombats in first division play.

In the two match-ups against the Wombats this season, the Warriors were able to come out on top, winning 14-12 in wet conditions in Winnipeg and also winning 26-21 in Steinbach after a heroic goal-line stand.

“If you’re reflecting back on the two games, it’s a coin toss,” Laflamme said.

An Eastman Warriors player sheds a tackle while running for a try in the second half.

“We just happened to win two games, not by fluke, but it happens. We got the good bounces in two games. That’s not to say they’re going to get the last bounce in the last game.”

Laflamme said he expected another tight contest between the two teams in the final, and expected an especially strong Wombats lineup, given the stakes of the match.

“I’m afraid of what’s going to happen next Saturday,” he said.

“I trust in the system and I trust in the players ability to listen and want to play the system. I see that we’re going to have a fantastic game. If they feel the need to be autonomous in a game-setting, then we’ll have problems.”

The Manitoba Premier League finals are set to kick-off on Sept. 24 at Maple Grove Rugby Park at 5 p.m

In an M-League (second division) semi-final in Winnipeg played later Sept. 17, the Warriors defeated the Assassins 31-17. The M-League final between the Warriors and Wanderers will take place at 1 pm Sept. 24, also at Maple Grove Rugby Park.

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