Ellerslie Rugby Park — The best team in Alberta not playing premier women's rugby is ripping up the Edmonton second division league.
Wednesday's 56-10 laugher against the outclassed Lep/Tigers (2-3) was the fourth blowout win by the undefeated St. Albert Blues. The average margin of victory by the first 15 is a whopping 57.5 points.
"We're deep this year and very talented. It's not like we have one or two or three people who do it all," said Laura Tod, a pint-sized scrum-half who plays with fire in her eyes. "It's a hard team to make. Everyone has to fight for their spot. So many people are playing well. You have to play well or someone from the Red team can come up and take your place."
Next year the Blues will move up to premier and the Reds, the St. Albert women's developmental team, will stay in the second division.
"We're contenders for premier," said Tod, 20, who played senior rugby in 2006 when St. Albert fielded a winless premier team and an equally inept second division squad. "The thing about premier teams is they are so well organized. When you play people in premier who come down [to their second division teams] it's a more organized squad. We're also organized, which is the biggest part of our success this year. You can have pieces of a team who can play but we all play well together as an organization."
The only team that could give the Blues a game is the first-place Pirates (5-1). The showdown for top spot is June 27 at 2 p.m. at Ellerslie. A win would give the Blues a big boost in their quest for an undefeated season.
"So far it feels really good that we're winning," Tod said. "You want to start every game thinking you're going to win. If something is not working you want to fix it so you can win and that's what we're doing. When teams get down [in our end], we've got that mentality going that we need to fix it even though we're winning. They shouldn't be down here and how do we make that not happen."
The Blues are also flat-out fast. Led by fullback Michelle Marler's hat trick, six of the eight tries against the Lep/Tigers were scored by the speed demons in the backs.
"We have people who can finish. Even the forwards scored tonight," Tod said.
Veteran prop Alicia Sliwkanich left a trail of destruction into the try area for a pair of scores. Stunning runs by U20 Team Canada outside-centre Amanda Lalonde, winger Marcia Davis and rookie Mickel Yuzdepski added to the point total.
All but one try was scored under the posts. Tanis Sawatzky kicked five converts, Yuzdepski split the uprights twice and Katie Davis was perfect on her conversion attempt.
"Everyone made it easer for them today," Tod said. "You always want to score between the posts if you can."
The Blues rolled up five converted tries before the Lep/Tigers cracked the try line towards the end the first half.
"The goal of the game was not to let the other team get bonus points and that's what we did," Tod said. "We set goals before each game. We work on them and try and achieve them and we've been achieving them."
After the one-sided affair, Tod was honoured as St. Albert's player of the game. The tough-as-nails field general made tackles all over the pitch when she wasn't working her magic in the scrums.
The high school rugby product of the Bellerose Bulldogs was one of several candidates who starred for the Blues. Marler's breakaway speed produced three tries. Lalonde, the team's MVP through the first four games, was dynamite every time she touched the ball. Her explosive runs blew the Lep/Tigers away. In the first half she turned in a wicked defensive play to gain control of the ball in front of the St. Albert try line, then whipped up a short but powerful run with several twists and turns before dishing the ball back to Marler. She reeled in the pass while in full flight and bolted three-quarters the length of the field for her second try of the night.
Tara Sliwkanich also showed good form in her first start with the Blues. She made a key play leading up to Yuzdepski's try late in the first half.
"As a team we were working together and talking to each other," said Tod, who started playing senior rugby after her Grade 11 season at Bellerose. "We called plays and they happened for us and when they broke down we were able to clean it up and fix it."
Bikini car wash
Lalonde is hosting a bikini car wash and barbecue fundraiser today at the Lube X location at 13004-82 St. in Edmonton to help with the costs of playing with U20 Canada at the Nations Cup tournament in England in August.
Also representing the Blues with the U20 national team is prop Stacie Becker.