Eastman Warriors complete season sweep of Assassins

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When the Eastman Warriors began the 2022 rugby season, they had never defeated the Assassins Rugby Football Club. They are now 2-0 against last-year’s champion this season, after a convincing 54-21 victory to remain undefeated in Winnipeg Aug. 6.

Head coach Eric Laflamme has been pressing his team all season to play up to a higher standard, despite strong results on the field, and after what he called a ‘terrible beginning to the game,’ the Warriors found their footing as they headed into the final moments of the first half.

In those final minutes of the opening half, the Warriors were able to turn a 7-7 tie into a commanding 26-7 lead, scoring three tries (with two conversions) in that span.

“If 35 minutes of excellent rugby got you 54 points, imagine if we would have played 80 minutes of excellent rugby” – Eric Laflamme, Warriors head coach

“We played superbly, to our potential,” Laflamme said of that eight-minute stretch, noting the beginning of the second half was also a little rough.

“For the next 25 minutes of the second half, we totally dominated, because we played as a unit.”

Laflamme was excited to see his team grow stronger throughout the game. From the beginning of the season he’s been preaching about the potential Eastman has to become the first team outside of Winnipeg to win the Rugby Manitoba premier league, and has hoped they can begin to eliminate the silly mistakes and penalties which have prevented them from dominating opponents.

“If 35 minutes of excellent rugby got you 54 points, imagine if we would have played 80 minutes of excellent rugby,” Laflamme said.

“The score could have been 100 points, but for the first 32 minutes we couldn’t string together three passes.”

The Eastman squad defeated the Assassins for the first time in their history in their opening match of the season, winning 40-24 at A.D. Penner Park. While the score may have been similar, the way the game played out couldn’t have been more different.

In their first match, the Assassins were able to dominate physically up front, with their forwards performing well in scrums, while the Warriors used speedy backs to find long runs to unlock the defense.

In Winnipeg last weekend, it was the Warriors forwards who came ready to play.

“You should have seen how we destroyed their scrums,” Laflamme said.

“This was a game dominated by the forwards, and the backs ruined it for the first 32 minutes. Every time (the forwards) got the ball out, (the backs) would drop it.”

Laflamme praised his entire team for working hard in training, pointing to the second division match final score of 51-31, played against the Assassins after the premier game, as proof the entire club is raising their skill level.

“I was so happy for the club, the club deserved that win,” Laflamme said.

“A lot of people came to training, a lot of people understood the systems, and we put those systems into place.”

The Warriors find themselves at the top of the standings, with a perfect 4-0 record. Of their final four games, two will be played against last-place Brandon, although Laflamme is a little worried about finding enough players to make the trip for their match Aug. 13. The squad is looking forward to getting a chance to face the second place Wombats at home Aug. 20.

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