Bayside v Nanaimo Match Report: Sharks Wrap Up Season
posted May 3 2017
by Kevin Whitmarsh
After raising a few eyebrows with their convincing win against Abbotsford in the first round, the Bayside Sharks were tasked with providing an encore. Flanked by a school of support, the men boarded the boat and crossed the chummed waters of the Juan de Fuca, hungry for another taste of playoff victory. Their opponents - The North Island stalwarts and Times Cup Champion Nanaimo Hornets. As island champions, they had earned the right to a 3 week break and came in well rested.
A large crowd turned gathered to support the sides, especially given the driving wind and rain that persisted through most of the day. They were treated to a doozy of an opening act as the Yoos-to-Bees took on the SOBs (Semiahmoo Old Boys). The (barely)Over 35s squads decided to reschedule their Sunday matchup to Saturday in the name of a true club day. The SOBs rolled off the bus and onto the field, and once they shook off their ferry legs, managed to take the victory and inspire the young men to do the same.
Finally it was time for the Sharks and Hornets -who had never played each other before- to square off. The Sharks came out of the gates with possession, and save for a few clearing kicks and well timed penalties, managed to pin the Hornets in their own end for the first 10 minutes. Sticking mainly to disciplined forward play, the visitors drove within inches of the line, but the defence held up and forced a penalty.
The teams slugged on, trading blows as Nanaimo pushed up the field with some talented back play and they themselves came close to scoring, but the Shark defence remained solid. Both teams flirted with the scoreboard - first Bayside missing a penalty wide then Nanaimo clanging one off the upright - but neither could seal the deal.
Eventually Nanaimo would break the ice, using a series of sharp outside runs to eventually set up a line break that the #13 turned into the first score of the game. It looked like Bayside might tie the game up before half, as Alex Ferguson #10 placed a penalty kick near the flag and Bayside had a lineout from the 5. The lineout was secured and brought down for a maul, but the Nanaimo players refused oppose, resulting in an obstruction call. The Bayside side wasn’t happy with the call, but credit to Nanaimo on the execution of the crafty play. The halftime whistle sounded and the teams went to the break 7 points apart.
The second half would be more of the same, with tough forward play, plenty of kicks, and surprisingly few dropped balls for the conditions. Bayside applied pressure, spreading the ball wide more than they had in the first half, looking for cracks. They didn’t find many. Possibly the most impressive part of Nanaimo’s game was their defence through to backline. There were very few occasions where Bayside backs were able to look up without Black and Yellow stripes in their faces. But the Sharks plugged away, coming painfully close to the try line yet again before knocking on the ball once more. #13 Andrew O’Connor would receive a yellow card. While it was the first of his career (he must’ve been framed), it still put the Sharks down a man. The Rugby Gods, likely equally shocked by seeing O’Connor in the bin, soon answered with a yellow for the Nanaimo #10 to even out the squads. The Sharks would power away and eventually have their determination rewarded. Rookie standout (and BCRN MOTM) #9 Logan Smith took it himself and, powered by 3 or 4 sharks behind him, willed his way over the line to even the game at 7!
The euphoria would not last long for the Sharks however, as the Hornets quickly took one back. Their #14 would go on a sensational 60 yard run to set up the score in the corner, putting the Hornets up 5. They would add another minutes later, with solid kick-chase defence setting up a forward try up the middle. Soon after the Hornets would swing the ball wide and find a hole in the defence, putting up one more try to put the contest out of reach. The final score, Nanaimo 26, Bayside 7.
The Sharks battled right through to the end but came up short against a well-drilled team that was solid in all facets of the game. The Sharks players had nothing but positive things to say about their foes after the match. Hats off to Nanaimo on a well earned victory and good luck in the final!
It didn’t take long for the Sharks spirits to climb after the final whistle sounded. This season was a tremendous step forward, for all senior teams in the club. The Women’s program took tremendous strides adding both members and wins over the year before, not to mention outpacing the men in fundraising and support for their fellow Sharks. The SOBs became more integrated with the Sharks than ever, and nearly single handedly ensured strong club culture in the process. The U23 program drew out more young players than ever, paving the way for 2 fully stocked Senior Men’s teams in the second half that saw their most successful season in recent memory.
The true measure of a club is what you see when you look around after a tough loss, especially one that ends a season. When I looked around on the ferry home and saw my Bayside brothers and sisters of all ages, laughing and singing together, looking forward for what the summer and next season would bring to the club, it was pretty clear;
Sharks Take the Bite Out of Abby in Quarter-Final Matchup
posted April 26 2017
by Kevin Whitmarsh
Saturday marked a big day for the Bayside Sharks rugby club, as the Men’s Div 1 squad got a long-awaited taste of playoff rugby. The club battled hard but finished near the bottom of the table the past few seasons, however this year saw the club take a definitive step in the right direction. Upstart head coach Pete Clifford was blessed with elevated numbers at training to work with and through preaching a fast-paced style of rugby, he had the senior men began playing in a way that conjured up memories of Bayside teams of old. With the addition of a few key players returning from school commitments and few new faces from overseas playing huge roles, the club was buzzing again.
Three weeks earlier, a loss to Brit Lions in the relentless wind and rain on the Delta shores had the outlook looking bleak. But diversity breeds character and strengthens resolve. A bonus point win against Kelowna in the final week of the regular season put the Sharks ahead of Langley by the narrowest of margins for the final Mainland playoff spot.
It was clear by the way that they came out of the gates on Saturday that the squad was switched on. The game began with 10 minutes of sustained Abbotsford attack, with the Fraser Valley giants content to play disciplined, smash-mouth rugby. Outsized but undeterred, the Bayside forward pack continually came up to meet the Abbotsford attack. Shored up by the return from injury of veteran leaders #3 Kaj Briscoe and #5 Jeremy Bergman, the Sharks endured the sustained pressure, eventually turning over the ball and turning up-field. After a punishing run up the gut by #1 Cali Martinez, the ball was recycled quickly by #9 Logan Smith.#10 Alex Ferguson delivered a well-timed flat ball to #12 Zach Koitka who turned a line break into daylight, chewing up yardage before unloading to #14 Trevor Nelson for the early try in the corner. Ferguson converted for an early 7-0 lead for the Sharks, to the delight and uproar of the numerous supporters that came out and did their best to make Abbotsford Exhibition Park sound and feel like the Shark Tank.
Not long after the Sharks hit the scoreboard, the home squad began to find their form. Precision kicking from the Abbotsford #10 and disciplined forward play marched them down the field. Abbotsford turned their dominant scrum into points, pushing the ball over the line to put them back within 2.
Bayside would respond quickly. A craftily weighted kick by Ferguson was fielded by the defender precariously close to the touchline, with #11 Spencer Marshall there to send the Abby player into touch. The lineout ball would be secured, and after a few go’s at it, #8 Spencer Thorpe rumbled the ball home, putting the visitors up 14-5. Abby would answer with a penalty kick between the sticks to bring the score to 14-8. After a sustained period of back-forth rugby, Bayside won an attacking lineout deep in Abby territory. After winning the contest and forming a maul, Thorpe peeled the ball off the back, taking the lineout to the blindside and Gunning it for the corner for his 2nd try of the half.
Bayside would not wait long to score again. Another lineout win from a penalty positioned them deep, and the Tasman Sea Tandem would strike again, with Ferguson feeding Koitka, who was breaking the line on the day like the big kid in class playing Red Rover. He offloaded to Marshall who fought his way into the try zone to put the visitors up 24-8 at the half.
The second half started with more of the same with Bayside once again flying out the gates. Ferguson surprised everyone by reaching into his bag of tricks and pulling out a slick drop-goal from 30m to put 3 more on the board. That was quickly followed up by a #6 Doug Fairbank try to push the margin to 32-8. A try saving tackle by the Abby #10 (who had at least 3 on the day and played tremendously in defence) on #7 Ben Sullivan who seemed destined to reach paydirt kept the home side in the game, but Bayside would soon add a penalty to go up 35-8.
Around the 65th minute, Abbotsford awoke and found their shape and began showing the type of play that had them atop the standings all year. The home side began dominating play, powering their way to 2 consecutive tries to pull the score to 35-20. With Bayside down a man after Smith was sent off with a yellow, Abby would eventually wear down Bayside’s steadfast defence and once again push over a their well-drilled scrum to pull themselves to within 10, 35-25. The Bayside sidelines grew admittedly nervous, with many of the supporters finding their hearts in their throats as Coach Clifford coaxed them to keep the energy high and will on the squad.
Bayside would soon put whatever doubts there were to rest. #13 Andrew O’Connor stepped in at 9, a roll he is more than familiar with. He scooped a loose ball and saw a gap, cutting upfield and turning on the jets to put another 7 on the board. General LeDougre would add 1 more emphatic try in the final minute to cap off a day where everything went right for the Sharks, bringing the final tally to 47-25. Bayside benefitted from having their deepest bench in recent memory and being able to play all 22 men on the day. Hats off to every single one for bringing their best and nothing less.
To beat a team like Abbotsford, for whom the Sharks have the utmost respect, made the victory extra special. As Captain Tyler Train said at the post game, they are a model club that in many ways we try to emulate. They were possibly victims of their own success, having to field 2 playoff teams while both their opponents had the luxury of fielding just 1. Bayside would like to extend congratulations to their club on yet another consecutive year near the top of the league. Thank you to the hosts for a fantastic day of rugby and a show of absolute class on a day with many tries and very few extracurriculars.
Hoist the sails and steer the ship westward! The Travelling War Circus is off to Nanaimo to face the Hornets in the semi-finals!