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Riders edge Blue Bombers in Labour Day Classic

Saskatchewan Roughriders running back William Powell fights for yards during first half CFL action against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, in Regina on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019.
Saskatchewan Roughriders running back William Powell fights for yards during first half CFL action against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, in Regina on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor

The Saskatchewan Roughriders continued their dominance over Winnipeg in the annual Labour Day grudge match between the two CFL West rivals, edging the Blue Bombers 19-17 in a hard-fought battle at Mosaic Stadium on Sunday.

The Roughriders picked up their 14th win in the last 15 classics and improved their overall record in the long-running series to 37-18.

Brett Lauther kicked the game-winning field goal from 26 yards out with no time left as the Riders won their sixth straight game to improve to 7-3 while first-place Winnipeg dropped to 8-3.

READ MORE: First place Bombers have underdog status ahead of Labour Day Classic

That winning three-pointer came after the Blue Bombers had taken their first — and only — lead of the game when Chris Streveler scored on a third-and-goal, one-yard plunge with 3:44 remaining.

“I felt like that drive at the end to put us up was a good drive,” Streveler told the 680 CJOB post-game show. “But there was a lot of missed opportunities — I made a lot of mistakes today. I think when we watch the film we’ll see a lot of opportunities to get better next week.”

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The Bombers ended the first quarter trailing 10-0 after being held to minus-10 yards.

READ MORE: Winnipeg Blue Bomber Andrew Harris suspended after testing positive for ‘very small trace’ of banned substance

Streveler started his second game in place of injured No. 1 pivot Matt Nichols and completed 16 of 24 passes for 161 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, while also rushing for 65 yards.

The Blue Bombers were also without star running back Andrew Harris, who was serving the first of a two-game league suspension for a failed drug test earlier in the week. His replacement, Johnny Augustine, filled in admirably with 98 yards on 12 carries while also catching three passes for 17 yards.

Head coach Mike O’Shea was generally pleased with the effort of both Streveler and Augustine.

“Johnny had a couple real nice runs, one extremely explosive run I’m sure he wished he’d finished,” O’Shea said following the loss. “Strev played well. It took us a little while to get going. That first quarter would need to be improved upon but overall, I thought they did a good job.”

READ MORE: Ex-Blue Bombers receiver Chris Matthews lands with Montreal Alouettes

The Blue Bombers scored their only other touchdown in the second quarter, when that “explosive” 55-yard run by Augustine set up a nine-yard pass by Streveler to Kenny Lawler to cut the Riders’ lead to 10-7.

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Saskatchewan quarterback Cody Fajardo threw for 300 yards and a major and was intercepted twice in the evenly played contest.

The teams meet again on Saturday afternoon in the annual Banjo Bowl rematch at IG Field in Winnipeg.