The Saskatchewan Rivers Dragons took home a bronze medal from the North Saskatchewan Rugby Union playoffs on Saturday. Not bad for a team in rebuilding mode.
After a .500 record regular season, the Dragons entered the first round of the NSRU playoffs in Saskatoon to take on the Springboks, losing 12-10 as they were relegated to the bronze medal match.
"It was a hard fought battle," Dragons coach Cory Trann said of his team's first round exit at the hands of the Springboks. "It could have went either way, it was a really good game of rugby."
Fighting for the bronze medal against Lashburn, Trann said the Dragons dominated every aspect of their final match of the season, trouncing their opponent 36-5.
With every game they played this season, the Dragons progressively developed and everything came together against Lashburn to take home a NSRU medal for a second consecutive season.
"They dominated," Trann said of the Dragons bronze medal-winning tilt. "They controlled the scrums, the lineouts, the backs. They spread the ball real wide, ran hard, tackled hard. It just really was a comprehensive victory."
The Dragons, a team consisting of a mix of players from Birch Hills, Carlton Comprehensive, Prince Albert Collegiate Institute and Wesmor high schools, finished their 2014 regular season 3-3 with victories against the Springboks and Wallabies, both Saskatoon-based teams.
With key pieces from their previous season moving on due to graduation, the Dragons entered the 2014 campaign younger and a little more inexperienced.
Despite the rebuild, Trann said the team developed well throughout the season, hitting their stride in Saturday's season finale against Lashburn.
"We started off with a young team," Trann explained upon the conclusion of his seventh season coaching the Dragons. "They matured very well over the season. we ended up with a .500 record in the league, won the bronze final, so really we did very well."
Trann added that the team got key contributions this season from departing players Aaron Evans and Lukas McConechy, a senior at Carlton.
Both McConechy and Evans scored tries in their final match as a Dragon, a "fitting send off" for two players who have led the team over the past couple of years, Trann said.
Entering "phase two" of the team's rebuild next season, Trann thinks the team is in good shape with a strong contingent of Grade 10 students making up the bulk of the roster, coupled with a pair of Grade 11 players to lead the way.
The Dragons will finish off their 2014 season with an awards banquet on Monday at Carlton Comprehensive High School, starting at 5 p.m.