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Valley Bulldogs hold on to beat Windsor Machine during tough rugby semi-final

WINDSOR, N.S. — The semi-final between the Hants County RFC's Machine women and the Valley Bulldogs came down to the wire, with the Valley team eking out a 49-43 victory.

The game, played Aug. 24 as the sun was setting in Windsor, saw the Bulldogs dominate the first half, with the Machine putting up a spirited second and nearly tying the game.

While the outcome wasn't what they wanted, Sarah Boudreau, who co-captains the Windsor-based squad with Maria Smith, said she was proud of what they accomplished this year.

“I think we started from a very young, very inexperienced team and we just built our team up throughout the season. From start to finish, I think we are legs above where we started,” said Boudreau following the close semi-final.

Boudreau said they didn't come out strong, but wound up taking control of the game.

“We got stuck playing their game in the first half but in the second half, we really turned it up and we were playing Machine rugby,” said Boudreau, noting that the women gave 100 per cent.

“Overall we're really happy with how we played. Regardless of the outcome — somebody's got to lose — but next year we will get them,” Boudreau said.

Two of the key Machine players during the Aug. 24 game were Danielle Wisen and Justine Blatt-Janmaat.

“We have some strong runners. Danielle Wisen is our 8-man and she is a spitfire. When she gets ball in hand, she's up the field and nobody can catch her. She's one of our key players,” said Boudreau.

Blatt-Janmaat “is one of our youth but also one of our hardest runners on the team.”

The Valley Bulldogs now face the Enfield RFC in the final on Aug. 26 in Port Williams.

Jason Hokai, a Valley Bulldogs coach, said he was happy for the win.

“I'm happy that the girls got what they deserved. I think they worked really hard this year,” said Hokai of the Bulldogs win.

Although they had some defensive issues, especially as the game ticked down, Hokai said they persevered and “never had a problem scoring.”

As for stand out players, Hokai said Brianna Graham, the team's No. 8, helped put them in the win column against Windsor.

“I can't even put it into words. She was just phenomenal... easily her best game of the year and I think they would've lost if she didn't play as well as she did. She was outstanding.”

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