James Bay Climbs Back Into the Playoff Hunt
by Phil Meyer
posted March 26 2017
Saturday at MacDonald Park, JBAA Ones and Prems scored convincing victories over Capilano RFC. In the early game, Kieran McAuley scores a hat of trys to lead the Bays to a 46 to 10 win. Nate Tough scores twice – his second on a 60 meter scamper. Nate Waldmann, Bryan Kelly and Andrew de Goede run in one apiece – de Goede on an interception and 55 meter free-dash to goal. David McGrath has two converts – Max Sydenham and de Goede one each.
Bays’ Ones lead 32 – 0 at half time. Caps kick a penalty goal early in half two – and score a converted try just before the end. It is not enough. JBAA 46 – Capilanos 10.
A highlight is the appearance of referee Phil Smith. He is one of the “best in BC” – and, beset by work responsibilities, rugby has not seen enough of him this season. Welcome back Phil!
Unfortunately, last week’s solid JBAA Ones’ win over Rowers has not been entered in standings on the BCRU website – so it is impossible to know exactly where JBAA now stands. What we do know: JBAA now has 10 standings points, and is back in the BCRU Reserve League hunt for a playoff spot.
The Premier game, in many respects, mirrors days of yore. Caps are a hard proud straight ahead team. The Bays respond in kind – and trainers are kept busy administering to the wounded, and in some instances, dragging the nearly dead off. But this is not a Caps day. They open scoring with a Chris Robinson penalty goal – but the Blue Crush assert a slight edge that, over the day, will wear the Black-shirted Cap forwards down.
The Bays score their first at the 16 minute mark. A Blue Crush surge – back rower Travis Larsen finishes off – Elliot Mitrou converts. Hard play continues – then, 7 minutes from half, Jimmy de Goede goes on one of his signature pirating forays near the Capilano goal – snatching the ball from opposition lineout play – reaching over the line to score. Ed Adams converts.
This seems to open the doors for the Navy Blue. Four minutes on, passes from Shea Wakefield to Aaron Evison to Adams sees a score in the corner. And another 3 minutes on – with the referee puckering for half time – Blue Crush surges again – and Blake Van Heyningen trundles over. Throughout this half, JBAA D – led by Sean White – are tackling pretty much everything that moves keeping the Caps out. At the half: JBAA 26 – Capilanos 3.
Larsen gets his second six minutes into Half Two – slicing left from a forwards’ power surge to plunge across the line. Adams’ convert good again. Then five minutes more, and White lofts an attacking kick high into the Caps in-goal – and Chris Slater soars over a Black-shirted defender, then crashes to the earth – ball in hand – to score. Bays now 38 – Caps still 3.
Caps get a first get-back try with 65 minutes gone, when fullback Connor Martin races into the left corner. And as the game-curtain begins to fall, Rich Merinsky scores for Caps – and Robinson converts. Curtain now closed. JBAA 41 – Capilanos 10.
After, in the House of Bays, the Men in Black are not pleased. The Navy Blues have also had such experience from time to time. But not this Saturday. The James Bay win means lots in terms of fighting for a playoff spot this year. It will mean little when the Men in Navy Blue and Men in Black stand up against each other again - further down the rugby road.
Weekend results here at MacDonald Park – and elsewhere round the BC Premier League – have left most quite excited. Five teams are now tied with 12 points in the race to the playoffs – Capilanos, U Vic, Ravens, Seattle, and the Bays. Three will get in – two will not! Trying to figure out how this will end, based on “who might beat who” lies beyond my aging mind. So I conclude – each of these five teams “has their playoff life in their own hands”. What they do on the field through April will tell us – and them – where they will finally stand.
[ed. Ravens 13pts - JBAA, Caps, Vikes, Seattle 12pts]
Magic Created by Mack and White Raises Game: JBAA 75 - Rowers 8
by Phil Meyer
posted March 20 2017
Saturday at MacDonald Park – a pale sun offering slight hope of distant spring – from time to time, shadows from drifting clouds returning chill to fingers already numbed from too-long hardened winter. The men of Rowing Club and James Bay step on the field to battle for the Cox Cup – as they have for 80 years before – the Bays first upslope - against the usual southwest wind.
Two minutes in, and Magic strikes. A penalty awarded Navy Blue on Rowers 25. In less time than it takes for regrouping Rowers and gathered spectators to draw a breath, Phil Mack quick taps – beats Rowers to a crack in their defense – powers through a hopeful tackler – straight ahead to goal. Elliot Mitrou converts. Bays ahead 7-0. Mitrou adds a penalty goal 4 minutes on.
At twelve minutes, Brian Duran gets a kick-back penalty goal for Rowers. At 13 minutes, Bays spin the ball to Chris Slater, who dashes to the left for 20 meters – pass to Sean White, who slashes for 30 more – then an over-his-head alley-oop back to Slater – and a final 15 meters to the line. Mitrou again converts. JBAA 17 – Rowers 3.
Rowers continue to play hard – but with no reward – and another 12 minutes on, Rhys Davies breaks from a rolling Blue Crush maul – powers cross the line. Bays 22 to 3. At 28 minutes, JBAA front rower Cole Keith, returning from Canada’s difficult South America tour, scores – on passes from White and Mitrou.
By now, the Magic created by Mack and White seems to have affected all – as Bays across the lineup raise their game. Mitrou beats two Rowers to the ball – kicks it through – Mack is following again – gathering ball in hand - slicing to the end-zone – flipping ball to Travis Larsen for the touch down.
At the half, Navy Blue 34, and turning down-slope – back now to the biting wind. Rowers 3. By now, also, the Bays have incurred a mysterious red card. Commentary on this will be left to bug-eyed video analysts. Perhaps incentivised by this handicap, the Bays pour in another six trys during Half Two.
Mitrou starts the half with his second penalty goal four minutes in. At 49 minutes, Mack and White set up Slater for another Magic score. Mitrou adds the 2. At 51 minutes, the Mack attack is back again – Phil scoring on another Magic combo play – Mack to Larsen – to Neil Meechan – and back to Philley. Elliot with the convert.
Whitey swings wide left at 55 minutes – striding in to touch down in the Rower end. Elliot converts another. Score now JBAA 58 – Rowers 3.
Midway through Half Two, the Blue Crush, while undermanned, are still taking ground. They power toward the Rower goal – then a jailbreak by Shea Wakefield – pass to Whitey – Jimmy de Goede scores. At 67 minutes, Chris Slater gets his third – on an Elliot Mitrou setup. George Richmond responds with Rowers only try. Five minutes from the end, Slater gets his forth on a setup from Nate (Cheeseburger) Waldmann. Final score: JBAA 75 – Vancouver Rowers 8.
For this writer, early BCRU days this year have been hard. Play by the Magicians on the field today was pure joy. It reminded me why I, and many others, keep working on for Navy Blue.
JBAA Ones 41 – Rowers 7.
In the early game, JBAA Ones and Rowers contested for the Ferguson Cup – a competition also several decades long. Both teams had struggled in league play. But Saturday, the Bays broke out for a 6 trys to 1 win.
At 12 minutes, Mike Cody gathered a kick-through for a Navy Blue score. Mid-half saw the Blue forwards surging to the goal, with Jason Lines touching down. At 30 minutes, Eddy Adams scored for the Bays. Adams converted all three of these. The Rowers’ only score came from a converted try early on. At the half, JBAA Ones 21 – Vancouver Rowers 7.
In half two, Tennyson Brown zipped into the right corner at 44 minutes. Max Sydenham quick-tapped a penalty, and burst 20 meters to add to the Navy Blue tally ten minutes later. Adams added a Bays’ penalty goal just past halfway. Cody ran in his second try four minutes from time. Ed Adams converted. Final score: JBAA Ones 41 – Vancouver Rowers 7.
Given post-Christmas JBAA struggles, Saturday’s results left JBAA players and spectators well pleased. For Rowers, standing up in the face of a whirlwind is tough. But stand up they did. More than 100 years of play reinforces the respect that these most venerable teams in the BCRU have for each other – and results from a single game will do nothing to dispel that.
As noted, for the Bays, Saturday was Magic. For Rowers, it was difficult – as they continue down their recent rugby road – heads held high – remembering their historic past – looking to their rugby future. Huddy Huddy to all four teams!
Next Saturday, the Bays will host Capilanos at MacDonald Park. Rowers will regroup against Ravens in another battle at Jericho.
A Hard Winter on The Bay: UBCOB 34 – JBAA 30
by Phil Meyer
posted March 6 2017
When I returned to Victoria from California in 1989, I had a written contract: Nice Canadian people – good rugby – no snow. This winter, I have torn that contract up. Since Christmas, there has been more than enough white all around to warm (or is it, freeze) the heart of The Donald, and bevies of his “southern” supporters. Jack Frost biting and blowing at your toes and finger tips is hard. Skating over city streets and practice fields is hard. Wishing I was in Hawaii, and not being there, is hard. And, oh yes – not winning is hard – at least for those of us who expect to continue winning “our fair share”.
So it was on Saturday. A nippy – but mostly sunny day at Jericho – entertaining rugby for some 70 minutes – then an attempted mugging along the Ravens’ hash marks – UBCOB sideliners joining the fray. The only outcome, a yellow card to JBAA – Ravens let off scot free, now with 15 men to 13 advantage, and expedited passage to an overlapped winning score.
Bays enjoyed a small on-field advantage in play on the day - led 20 to 15 at the half – and by 3 with 78 minutes gone. Then more of the “hard” stuff came down.
Bays’ try scorers were Mike Nieuwenhuysen and Trevor Larsen in the first half – and a group effort by the Blue Crush in Half Two. Elliot Mitrou put in a spectacular kicking day – converting all three JBAA trys – and adding three penalty goals.
I apologize to Ravens for not notating their scorers. The BCRU no longer mandates exchange of such information – and I was so PO’ed at the end that I could scarcely speak – let alone remember to chase down rival scorers.
Passage into Monday seemed to alleviate my despair somewhat – until I looked out my Metchosin window this morning. It is snowing again. Life still seems hard!
I have been critical of the BCRU’s hop-scotch schedule - all teams off again next week. As it stands, I may need the additional recovery time.