Burnaby Match Reports for Club Finals: Win in Premier Reserve, Losses in Premier and Div 3
by Mike Devlin
posted May 10 2017
A great year for the BLRC Men’s program came to a close on Saturday with the teams going 1 for 3 on the day. Getting all 3 teams to the finals is difficult and as the club found out, fielding all 3 teams in these competitive matches was even more challenging. The considerable resources of our club would be tested on Saturday but all teams showed admirably with 2 close losses and one close victory. Congrats to the players & management of all 3 teams and thank you to Westshore, UVIC and UBC for the great games and congratulations on outstanding seasons.
A few thoughts on the day. I thought that the staging of all Championship games at one venue was ambitious and turned out fantastic. In addition to watching 95% of all 3 BLRC games I was able to catch most of the Capilano/Kelowna 2nd Div Woman game, a good chunk of the 3B Final between Capilano & Squamish which allowed me to cheer on old teammate Alec Douglas. For those keeping score, this was the 3rd time this year I’ve been on a sideline cheering for Capilano… It’s a weird sensation. It’s like that feeling when you use someone else’s toothbrush by mistake and find out afterwards. You’re oblivious while you’re brushing & everything seems normal, but afterwards you just feel icky. I also saw a 15 minute stretch of the UBC/United 1st Div Women’s final where I caught BLRC’er Ciara Malone score a few tries, and watched the last 10 minutes of the Surrey Beaver’s 1st Div Championship romp! Each game was intense and even in the one “blowout” game, the energy on the pitch was contagious. I never made it in to the beer garden, unfortunately, but it looked like a good time! I think there were a few things missed or balls dropped here or there but mistakes get learned from and all in all it was a great day. I sincerely hope that the BCRU has already booked Abbotsford as a venue for next year. Where else can comfortably host 9 finals while charging a gate?
BLRC 3rd Div Men 15 – Westshore RFC 24
When you are team 3 of 3 club teams going to the finals, you are put in a difficult spot. Any injuries up top has a knock on effect that draw your top players out of the lineup, you have the smallest support group, and you are most likely playing against a team who has the full focus of their club behind them. The BLRC 3rds had a bit of a wakeup call on Saturday with Westshore coming out strong and putting the BLRC under pressure like no other team has so far this season.
Andy Drummond looks for an offload – photo credit Pj Carr
Westshore ran up a 17-0 lead at the half behind tries from Quinn Ngawati and (I believe) their 8man plus some handy work by the boot of Ngawati. The 3rds emerged from the break and controlled most of the final 40 minutes. First a penalty from Jarett Richardson, a try from Murphy, and finally an intercept try from Menzies and a Korobasaga convert made the game 17-15 with only about 8 minutes left. A series of penalties led to a 2nd BLRC Yellow card on the day so they faced an uphill challenge and they got close with no time remaining but spilled the ball on which was picked up and turned into 7 points by Ngawati. That was all she wrote.
Frazer Yule enters contact low with Chris Campbell supporting – photo credit Pj Carr
Giving your opponent a 17 point head start is an almost impossible margin to overcome especially against a big team like Westshore. Most of the Westshore players were experienced and did a good job of closing the game out which they needed to do because the BLRC were on fire in the game’s final 25 minutes. Westshore is a perennial 3rd Div favourite and appears in this game as often as not for a reason. In speaking with most of the BLRC players after the game all said that they were ready to hit the gym and come back stronger next year, so hopefully they hold each other to that and they get a shot at redemption next May.
The full game can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSDo9mhYfGY
BLRC Premier Reserve Men 32 – UVIC 24
This one looked like it was going to be a blowout with the BLRC running out to a 20-3 lead before allowing UVIC to get back in the game with 2 yellow cards and the hot foot of the UVIC Flyhalf bringing the game to 20-12 at the half. This was the 2nd game of the day where the BLRC would be assessed at least 2 yellows and play a quarter of the game short a man. That’s making things tough for yourself.
Mark Higgins spinning the ball – photo credit Pj Carr
Gino Paolella opened the scoring on the game’s first drive, cutting through the centres to score. Andrew Porter scored shortly after from the wing, dragging a few defenders along with him. Nolan Shelley converted one try and a penalty to give the BLRC a 15 point lead before the penalties started mounting up and 2 BLRC would get 10 minute rests. During this time Brad McHugh barreled over for another try and the UVIC kicker showed some skills hitting 4 penalties from all over and making a game of it.
Gino Paolella busting through some tackles – photo credit Pj Carr
The 2nd half began with Angus Fisher and a UVIC back exchanging tries and replacement scrumhalf Rain DeGuzman diving over for one himself. Shelley’s convert made the score 32-17. A Final flurry from UVIC ended their season on a slightly higher note with a converted try. Final score 32-24 and the BLRC Premier Reserve Men were once again confirmed the top Premier Reserve team in the league! Congrats to all of the players, coaches and management for another great year!
Superman, Mike Gough – photo credit PJ Carr
The full game can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hst30GHjlb8
2017 BC Rugby Premier Reserve Champions
BLRC Premier Men 17 – UBC Thunderbirds 29
A great crowd was on hand for the Premier kickoff and the first 20 minutes had both teams battling for a little wiggle room. UBC and Burnaby Lake each had stretches inside the opposition 22m but UBC was able to turn their foray into 7 points through an Andrew Coe try and Adam McQueen conversion.
Admir Cejvanovic tries to avoid the UBC tackle – phot credit Pj Carr
UBC kept the pressure on in the 2nd quarter and attacked wide where Elis Ergas touched down near the corner at the 30 minute mark. Only 4 minutes later UBC attacked the wing again with Coe making a break and McQueen converting to put UBC ahead 19-0. The BLRC were noticeably reeling and coming to the realization that they had only missed 3 tackles in 35 minutes of rugby and the speedy UBC backline had turned that into 3 try’s and 19 points…so no more missed tackles would be a must. Alas, a missed tackle 3 minutes into the 2nd half let (I believe) Sauder in for a try between the posts. An easy convert had UBC ahead 26-0 with 37 minutes left to play.
Fuku Vikilani wrapped up by UBC’s Sandover-Best – photo credit Pj Carr
The first few BLRC substitutions entered the game and made an impact immediately. The Big Puma, Lucas Albornoz, fresh off of taking a bottle to the face at a pub 5 days earlier (he’s still pretty, but in a dangerous kind of way now) added some aggression and some size to the pack and Burnaby Mountain Secondary grad Dan Josok who plays with a chip on his shoulder at the best of times would add a spark to the BLRC backline.
Taitusi Vikilani preparing for contact – photo credit PJ Carr
The impact was felt immediately as the BLRC took the kickoff and systematically moved the ball down inside the UBC end where they were awarded a 5m scrum. Entering the game next was Andrew Lackner, one of the longest tenured players at the BLRC. Lackner has been a BLRC club member for 17 years, almost as long as many of the players on the pitch have been alive! The BLRC pack took advantage of a tiring UBC front row and walked over the students. Referee Dave Smortchevsky awarded a penalty try to finally put the BLRC on the board. The BLRC had the momentum in their favour and the very vocal support of the Beer Garden which was filled primarily with BLRC, Abbotsford, Langley, Ridge Meadows and Surrey Beavers colours!
Lucas Albornoz tries to shake Clint Lemkus off the tackle – photo credit PJ Carr
UBC continued to tackle well and the BLRC were thwarted on numerous occasions at the 5m but eventually the ball went wide to a hard charging Cole McQueen who beat his opposite and scored to draw closer, 26-12. The BLRC came back raging off the kickoff, Goodall, Gotegote & Vunituraga playing a little tic, tac toe down the far sideline before finally being stopped at the UBC 5m. UBC were once again able to cause a turnover and cleared the ball. Only 10 minutes left on the clock, so the BLRC had to hurry but UBC were doing a great job of slowing the game down and extending the time between whistle & action. For a bunch of youngsters, they can control the clock like veterans. Eventually the BLRC had worked the ball back down into the red zone and Lucas Albornoz wouldn’t be denied. 26-17 with only 5 minutes left. Alas the Thunderbirds showed their mettle and used a penalty to get back into the BLRC end and another penalty to close out the game with a 3 pointer. Game, set + match.
The full game can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfB-U6Jsz10
Congratulations to UBC’s players and coaches. In the past 4 years they have had a run of dominance, hoisting a league championship at the conclusion of every season. The fitness and strength of the team, especially in their backline is beyond impressive and they were deserving winners.
The BLRC played well, save for a 15 minute period mid game where they decided to spot UBC 26 points. A little more “heads up” play during that span could have seen the Blue & White crowned league champions, but this was the UBC Premier Team’s year. Luca, Lackner, Cejvanovic, Taitusi & Fuku Vikilani, Vunituraga, McLaughlin, Gotegote, Ackerman, Josok, McQueen, Govorchin, Rockson, Reekie, Albornoz, O’Toole, Mosychuk, Goodall, Videla, Higgins & Dagg all put on a hell of a show and kept the crowd in the game with the 2nd half comeback. The Premier team was fully bought in this year and led the Men’s program in attendance at training. Setting that example on Tuesday and Thursday was as much a reason as any for the fantastic season that the BLRC men enjoyed.
On behalf of the BLRC I’d like to thank those who supported the club all year and last Saturday in Abbotsford.
Looking ahead to the summer, the BLRC are hosting the Scottish club, The Gordonians, on Friday June 2nd at 630pm. We will soon be putting a team together for that. All rugby fans are welcome to come out and watch some rugby at Burnaby Lake. The BLRC Sevens program will soon be starting up, and I imagine that some BLRC faces will be visible on the “new look” BC Bears. Additionally + most importantly, our women’s captain Carolyn McEwen will be travelling to New Zealand with the NSWT to take part in the International Women’s Rugby Series where Canada face New Zealand, England and Australia. This is a last chance look for the players to be named to the upcoming World Cup roster, so we wish her the best of luck!
Have a great summer!
Many Teams~One Club