Burnaby Get Two Wins In Nanaimo: Next Match Jan 20th vs Meraloma
by Mike Devlin
Before I get into the game reports I want to give a special thanks to Gillian, Allan + Shane Dagg (but mostly Gillian) who came to the Nanaimo pitch with trays of homemade sandwiches, a massive tank of Tim Hortons coffee and cupcakes for supporters and players of both clubs! The Daggs have moved to the Island recently and it was great seeing them again, supporting the Blue + White. They are missed every Saturday in the BLOB Zone (Again, mostly Gillian).
Also congratulations to the 1991 Canadian Rugby World Cup Team who will be inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame this January! There are a few members of that legendary team that are very close to the BLRC and to whom the club would like to offer a special congratulations. First, a big congrats to Paul Szabo! Szabo has been a coach with the BLRC for many years and tirelessly passes on his rugby expertise to the younger players at Burnaby Lake every Tuesday and Thursday evening. He’s the type of guy that every successful club needs in order to take itself to the next level and a guy who I’m proud to call my friend. 2n, a big congrats to Steve Gray, who was originally a product of Kats RFC but came to the BLRC during the clubs early years. The winger always punched above his weight and is generally considered one of the best players to have ever worn the BLRC men’s jersey! Lastly a big congrats to our long time kit supplier, sponsor and friend Eddie Evans whose company, X-treme Rugby wear, continues to support and help grow rugby in BC and around the world!
BLRC Premier Reserve Men 69 – Nanaimo Hornets 10
The Reserves got off the bus and got right to business with a crisp warm up leading up to kickoff. Perhaps the sense of scheduled urgency for the Reserves is the reason why they came out firing while the Prems with their 3 and a half hours of downtime before kickoff looked like they had concrete in their shoes for the first 30 minutes of their game. Whatever the reason, Flanker Cole Turner finished off a series of phases from the opening kickoff with a score and Nolan Shelley converted to give the BLRC a 7 point lead a few minutes in. Shortly after, Mathew Chan had made a big break and drew the defence in before bombing a pass to the streaking Giuseppe Laudisio on the wing. Giuseppe took the pass in for a try make the lead 12. Laudisio would add his 2nd try a few minutes later in much the same fashion with a wide pass coming his way and winning a footrace down the touchline. The BLRC had 3 easy try’s in 20 minutes and a 17 point lead. The ease of the lead caused the BLRC to noticeably take their collective foot off the gas pedal and Nanaimo came charging back, controlling much of the final 20 minutes. Nanaimo’s inside centre would start their comeback when he broke through the BLRC defence for a try, converted by #11. The winger would add another 3 points to bring the score to 17-10. The penalty kick seemed to spark something in the Blue & White up as they trapped the ball inside the Hornets 22m and went to work through the forwards. Liem Jung would end the half on a high when the Panda picked up the ball near the try line and dove over to make the score 22-10 at the whistle. Coach Murphy had some encouraging words at halftime which ignited the spark and it was all BLRC in the 2nd half.
Off the opening kickoff, Tom Dear finished off a strong run with a try, Andrew Porter sat his opposite down at the 10m line and went the rest of the pitch untouched, and Darren McCrory found a seam that saw him score from centre. Nolan Shelley hit all 3 converts to put the BLRC ahead 43-10 with about 12 minutes gone in the 2nd half. Laudisio would secure a hat trick with another score out wide, and McCrory notched his 2nd (which Shelley converted) to put the Reserves ahead 55-10. This was followed by a penalty try to the BLRC scrum and then Giuseppe Laudisio scoring his 4thd try of the game when a Hornets clearance kick failed to find touch and none of the Hornets seemed to notice or didn’t have the gas left to defend. Giuseppe scored between the posts and made Shelley’s convert easy.
Final score 69-10.
The BLRC Premier Reserves/1st Division have been a powerhouse in their league since 2010 and look the part again this season. If the squad stays focused and don’t fall prey to complacency they should see themselves competing for the Cup in May.
BLRC Premier Men 38 – Nanaimo Hornets 21
The first 40 minutes of this match were painful to watch if you were a BLRC supporter. A management concern in the week leading up to the game was that the BLRC Premier Men were taking the Hornets a little too lightly. A few too many mysterious injuries or uncharacteristic unavailability had the coaches draining the Reserves to make up the Premier roster. Once arriving at Nanaimo’s (fantastic) clubhouse, the players seemed a little too loose. Like the win was already tallied and they just had to get the formality of playing it out of the way so they could get back on to what was sure to be a party of a bus trip home.
Nanaimo however, was up for this game! The Hornets put Burnaby on the back foot right away and the opening 15 minutes were played almost entirely in the BLRC end. Their outside centre Jared Stephens got the scoreboard rolling when he took a seemingly innocent pass from the back of a scrum at the centre line and breezed through a handful of Burnaby Lake defenders, all the way in for a try at the 16 minute mark. Stephens is a hard runner to begin with, but it seemed like everyone on Blue & White just assumed that someone else was going to tackle him which certainly made his trot a little easier. Flyhalf Blake McGregor converted to put the home side ahead 7-0. Burnaby Lake responds at 22 minutes. From an attacking scrum at the Nanaimo 5m, Watkins spins the ball shortside to Caithness who pops to Cole McQueen. McQueen wrestles through 2 defenders to stay out of touch while he dives in for a try. The kick is struck well and is lined up perfectly, but falls just short. 7-5 Hornets.
The BLRC take the lead at 30 minutes when another Nanaimo penalty at their own 5m is quick tapped by Captain Rockson and passed to a charging Reid Watkins who touches down for a try! Caithness adds 2 to make the score 12-7. At 36 minutes the BLRC had the momentum in their favour but a no look pass to no one in the BLRC backfield was taken at full pace the other way by Stephens who ran 40m untouched for his 2nd try of the day! McGregor had his 2nd convert and Nanaimo was back in the lead 14-12. Just before the half the Hornets stung again (see what I did there?) through their #12 Brad Marshall. Nanaimo was pressing near the BLRC goal when Marshall took the ball into contact. He was brought down but not held, so he got up and dove over for the Hornets 3rd try of the half. McGregor added 2 points to give the home team a 21-12 lead at the break.
At the dawn of the 2nd half Burnaby found themselves with a lineout at the Nanaimo 5m. The maul was a strong point all day for the BLRC and this time was no different. Andrew Lackner was at the back with the ball when it went over the try line. Caithness added 2 and the score was 21-19 for the Hornets. Nanaimo would relinquish the lead with about 20 minutes left. The BLRC had a lineout just outside the Hornets 5m and after Breadon came down with the ball, the forwards had set up and it was moving quickly over the Hornets goal line. Andrew Lackner would once again be in the driver’s seat and rewarded with his 2nd try of the game. The conversion was short but the BLRC had the momentum and a 24-21 lead.
A few minutes later the BLC were attacking again, probing the Hornets defensive line trying to find a weak spot. Reid Watkins would find one and tear off of the base of a ruck, taking the ball all the way to the Nanaimo 5m before he was tracked down. A few breakdowns later it was big Craig McLaughlin who smashed into 2 defenders on the goal line and touched the ball down for a try! The conversion put the BLRC ahead 31-21 with about 10 minutes left. The final score would come from Man of the Match Reid Watkins. Watkins was running a nice support line to Ben McIvor as McIvor sliced through a handful of Nanaimo defenders. McIvor was dragged down near the 22 but popped the ball to Watkins who took off and scored between the posts! Jack Caithness split the uprights to make the score 38-21 in favour of Burnaby Lake which is how the game ended.
For most of the Burnaby Lake players & supporters who made the trip on Saturday (myself included) it was their first time at Nanaimo RFC. I was very impressed with the facilities and clubhouse Nanaimo has. Their hosting and hospitality was fantastic and I look forward to our next trip there. Also the quick 20 min trip from clubhouse to ferry terminal means more socializing can be had! Quite a bit more socializing was eventually had by the BLRC as the 7pm ferry had been cancelled and the team stuck around the bars on the waterfront until the 9pm sailing.
It was great to see Ryan Bradley playing top level rugby again! The former BLRC junior made a name for himself in the Blue & White as the youngest men’s player in our clubs history to play Premier rugby, coming on as a replacement as a 17 year old vs Capilano about a decade ago. Ryan moved to Nanaimo in 2008 or 2009 and has played with the Hornets ever since. He played a strong defensive game for Nanaimo on Saturday, but didn’t see much ball on attack. The Men of the Match for Nanaimo were Stephens in the backs and Wes Black in the forwards!
Since Ryan made his BLRC Premier Debut there have been 3 other 17 year olds who have played Men’s Premier rugby for Burnaby Lake, all named Vikilani. 17 year old Siaki played in his 2nd Premier game on Saturday as a fresh spare and entered the game in the 2nd half. Upon entering the game Siaki was, in my opinion, the best forward for the final 20 minutes. He became Burnaby’s primary ball carrier and used his big frame to win the point of contact in every collision, driving his legs to consistently make extra yards. He slotted in to an overachieving backrow consisting of Ed Swire, Doug Breadon and Cody Rockson who all had Man of the Match performances. These guys made a ton of tackles and were always around the ball with Doug Breadon, in particular, making a ton of yards with the ball in hand.
Now, a much needed break from league play for the BLRC who are off until January 20 when they travel to Connaught Park to take the Meralomas. In the meantime, the BLRC will be on the pitch for our annual John Latham Memorial Over/Under game on Boxing Day (Dec 26). This game pits all club members over the age of 30 vs all those under 30 and is followed by a great post game. The game kicks off at noon on Boxing Day!
Many Teams~One Club
Burnaby Split Results on Trip to Seattle: Loss to United in Div 2
by Mike Devlin
BLRC 2nd Div Men 13 – United RFC 17
A Friday night phone call that United’s fields were closed meant that the game would be moved to the BLRC’s home pitch. Big thanks to Paul Szabo + Trevor Flynn for setting up + lining the fields, Jason Cain for organizing the hosting and to bar managers Michelle + Miko MacKenzie for allowing us to use the bar which had been rented out for a private event that evening!
I went to the BLRC to watch this game rather than travel to Seattle with the top 2 teams and I’m glad I did! It was a great game of rugby, with some solid play from both sides! The rain made for some sloppy handling at times, but the field held up well and it was a nail biter to the end.
If you were tasked with writing a preview of the game it wouldn’t have looked to be a competitive afternoon. United entered the game in last place with an 0-9 record and (-209) point differential, but they certainly didn’t look the part of basement dwellers on Saturday. The BLRC fielded a very strong lineup with few soft spots. Burnaby made the decision this summer to enter their 3rd Div team into the 2nd Div league this season to increase the level of competition and, thus far, the club is extremely happy with the results and the performance of the players and coaches this fall! The team finished the first half with a 6-4-1 record and collected 9 bonus points! Great work to the players and staff who make up the team!
Now to the game…
From the kickoff United put the home side under all sorts of pressure and moved into the red zone. Only a few minutes in, the United #12 caped off a nice set of phases and scored through the disorganized Burnaby defence. It was much the same for the next 10 minutes as United pressured on attack and came up fast on defence to suffocate the BLRC backfield. At one point the Burnaby Lake backfield did build some momentum but a hanging pass was picked off by the United winger (wearing #18) and he ran it all the way back downfield for a try. He converted his own and Burnaby Lake found themselves down by 12 early. The BLRC started matching United’s aggression and you could see the ship starting to right. Eventually Burnaby was mounting some offence and it sprung winger Haydn Melin who slipped a tackle and scored wide to draw closer at 12-5. The convert was short but BLRC Fullback Cian Keegan did make good with a shot at posts a few minutes later to make the score 12-8. Some over aggressiveness on both sides saw a melee break out in front of the BLRC goal posts and the United #18 shown a red for kicking a BLRC player in the head and a BLRC 2nd row given a yellow for the retaliation that followed. The departure of #18 would be a big loss to United as he was their danger man and a threat any time the ball went his way.
Cian Keegan makes a break vs United. Photo Credit Rain DeGuzman
After the cards were delivered, it was United’s ball and they scored off the set play to go ahead 17-8. It was Keegan again who would mount the 2nd half attack and he scored the only points of the final half. The BLRC backs were playing tic-tac-toe going down the pitch with Karunathasan, McKeown and Bonell making some good decisions to keep the ball alive. Eventually Keegan was the man with the ball and no United defenders left. 17-13 which was your final.
Much credit to ref Dave Holmes who did a great job in trying conditions and whose calm demeanor and poise did much to control the player’s behaviour for most of the game.
BLRC Premier Reserve Men 64 – Seattle Saracens 5
Seattle had this one at BLRC 69 – Seattle 7, I am going with the BLRC’s scorekeeper until BC Rugby updates the official score on their website. The BLRC Reserves were a bit too much for Seattle to handle. A big pack combined with a backfield full of pace put Burnaby Lake ahead by 30+ at halftime and the 2nd half brought no respite for the Americans. BLRC received try’s from John McLoughlin (3), Dan Josok (2), Nick Vandergoes, Brian Robinson, Preston Petrovitch, Giuseppe Laudisio & Gino Paolella. Nolan Shelley went 7 for 10 on the conversions. This week sees the Reserves travel to the North Island for the first time in recent memory to take on Nanaimo.
Siaki Vikilani carries the ball into contact vs Seattle. Photo credit Pj Carr
BLRC Premier Men 14 – Seattle Saracens 34
This game will go down in BLRC lore as the American Mud Bowl. A pitch which looked sturdy at the start of the Reserves game had become a bog by the dawn of the Premier match. The muck was so thick that it made it impossible for proper drop-kick restarts. The best the kickers could hope for was for the ball to skip across the ground and make it the full 10m.
The scoring started early with the BLRC giving up a penalty right in front of their goal posts 2 minutes in. Shalom Suniula split the uprights and the Saracens had a 3-0 lead. The next 10 minutes were played in the Saracens end with the BLRC putting together some phases before Neil MacLaine took a crash ball through the centres, beating his man and stretched out to score. MacLaine converted his own to put the BLRC in the lead 7-3. At 19 minutes, Suniula made a break that took him 30 yards before engaging the final defender and popping the ball to his trailing flanker Jonathan Valz who touched down next to the posts. Suniula’s conversion put the Saracens back in the lead 10-7. The BLRC answered through their forwards and were awarded a penalty try after a scrum at the Seattle 5m. Burnaby Lake back on top 14-10 but they were shut out afterwards. Seattle took the lead just before half when Jonathan Valz scored his 2nd try, diving through a BLRC tackler for the score after Seattle had set up camp inside the Burnaby 5m.
Aladdin Schirmer breaks through a BLRC maul. Photo Credit Pj Carr
The first 15 minutes of the 2nd half was scoreless until Suniula sprung a big freight train that subbed on in the 2nd half for a try between the posts. I don’t have their spares list, but the guy was an impact player for sure. The Seattle forwards were battling in the trenches around the BLRC 5m when the ball went to the backs. Shalom faked wide and popped the ball back inside to the replacement centre who scored between the posts. The convert was good and Seattle now led 22-14. At 75 minutes the Saracens 2nd row Ben Gustafson would crash over between the posts after some nice work from the Seattle backs to trap the BLRC inside their own 5m and then create a turnover. Suniula made the convert to put the home side ahead 29-14. I believe it was Kellen Gordon who scored Seattle’s final try. The BLRC bobbled a high ball which was scooped up by Seattle. 2 phases later and it was Gordon (I think. All the jerseys looked the same by that point and it’s dark) crashing over in the corner to finish the game 34-14.
Seattle’s Shalom Suniula was outstanding for 80 minutes. He controlled the territory with his foot, using a steady diet of long & high punts to trap the BLRC inside their 22m. Perfect for a wet day. The BLRC back 3 were able to return fire often but without McQueen in the lineup there was no cannon in the backfield to match Shalom’s boot for distance. In the forwards, Aladdin Schirmer stood out for his play. He’s as solid as they come and knows the game well. No surprise that he gets the nod for the USA National team from time to time. Well-deserved based on his play on Saturday.
On the BLRC side of the field, Luca, Lackner + Worden controlled the set pieces until the field conditions made it so that the scrum was won by whichever team found a patch of grass on their side. Winger Andrew Porter played a good game, getting stuck in on defence and made some powerful runs with the ball. Also worth noting is that 17 year old Siaki Vikilani made his Premier debut at 8man, coming on to the field about 15 minutes in when Rockson went down to injury. It took him about 15 minutes to get used to the speed of the game and after that he never looked out of place. He carried the ball often and made some great hits on defence. He’s got a baby face and still has 4 or 5 years left to grow but he’s already the biggest of the Vikilani boys and matched up well across from an International caliber #8. The BLRC are encouraged & looking forward to big things from Siaki in the future!
Next weekend the BLRC Men will finish off a successful 2017 with a rare ferry from Horseshoe Bay to visit Nanaimo.
Many Teams~One Club