Play without ball a concern for rugby Dragons

Marty Hastings
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Dragons practice May 3, 2010

Head coach Paul Roy used a metaphor to describe the Saskatchewan Rivers Dragons' defensive effort Thursday in a 38-12 loss to the Saskatoon All Blacks at Prime Ministers' Park.

"We gave them too many windows, and not enough doors," he said.

Roy was referring to the Dragons' lack of cohesiveness when playing without the ball. It wasn't that his team didn't play tough defence - it's that they weren't playing tough defence together.

"Our defensive spacing has to improve because we have lots of rookies and they tend to clump up," said Roy, a teacher at Vickers School.

The Dragons looked to shore up their defensive play at practice on Monday at PACI ahead of Wednesday's game against Saskatoon Mahikinak.

Eight-man Dylan Boleski, who scored one of the Dragons' two tries Thursday, said his team needs to "come up as a group" instead of advancing toward the ball-toting opposition in a staggered line, which creates the "windows" Roy would like to see shut.

When the Dragons did have the ball, they had trouble holding on to it.

"Turnovers - I stopped counting at eight," Roy said. "And there were several after eight. It's about possession. We have to keep the ball."

One Dragon Roy recognized as a standout performer in last week's losing effort was Daris Samson, who was playing in his first rugby game.

"It was quite the rush," said Samson, a Grade 9 student at Carlton. "I liked hitting more than I actually liked passing the ball."

Roy took notice of the pleasure Samson derives from doling out pain during Thursday's game.

"I watched him track a player down over 40 yards and make a try-saving tackle," Roy said. "He's going to be a player of the future."

Mahikinak and the Dragons have faced off twice in the last two seasons. Saskatchewan Rivers was victorious on both occasions, but Roy isn't expecting a cakewalk.

"Last year they played a tighter game,' he said. "They are very physical. They had some big, big players. I mean really big players."

Kickoff Wednesday at PACI is 6 p.m.

Organizations: All Blacks, Vickers School, Carlton

Geographic location: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

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