Burnaby 3-0 on the Weekend with Wins Over Westshore in Men's Premier and Seattle in Women's Premier
by Mike Devlin
BLRC Premier Women 24 – Seattle Saracens 21 (by Walt Brandl)
Playing rugby in January was never expected to be a warm, dry affair but heading down the I-5 at 7:00 am with driving rain and howling wind certainly had to have the less seasoned members of the BLRC lean mean seventeen Premier women’s squad shaking their heads.
The rain abated, the wind did not, but over all conditions were not a bad as they could have been. The Burnaby women played into the wind in the first half and emerged down (only?) 14-5 thanks to Camilla Maslo’s 25 meter dash after spinning neatly out of a tackle. Despite an advantage in possession and territory Burnaby had surrendered two long runs to dig the hole.
With the wind in the second half, the BLRC used their hard-won possession more wisely and pushed into Seattle territory off the left foot of #10 Megan Mason. The home team found it difficult to effectively relieve pressure into the gale with the exception of a couple long runs by their daunting outside centre. Thankfully only one of these runs resulted in points. Lauren Tagg driving over from a series of well won rucks narrowed the gap and then Gen Gratton, finding space to the outside, set the stage for the final act. Katie Grudzinski was held up in goal setting up a five yard scrum. Burnaby found space through the centres but the referee, again felt the ball had not been grounded properly.
Disappointment was short lived as the ball was moved back to the place of the scrum as advantage had been played. From here the newly registered scrum half, Lee Van Vugt powered in and scored the winner. Gen Gratton made the convert and Burnaby escaped Sea-Tac Airport with a 24-21 bonus point win. Special mention must be made of the players who made the trip and played despite twinges and dings. The team will try continue stalking the teams above them in the standings with a fixture against 2nd place Capilano next Saturday.
BLRC Premier Reserve Men 29 – Westshore RFC 5
A dogfight of a game in the pouring rain opened the day at Burnaby Lake. Westshore’s 2nd XV proved hard to put away the last time the two teams met and today was no different. The BLRC jumped out to an early lead before Westshore fought back and made a game of it. The BLRC were led by Liem “Panda” Jung who scored the first points on the day with a pick and go about 15 minutes in. Johnny McLoughlin made quick work on the convert to put Burnaby Lake ahead 7-0. Less than 5 minutes later the BLRC would move the scoreboard numbers again when Mathew Chan got the ball at the Westshore 10m line with some space. Chan cut through the Visitors defence and touched the ball down for 5 points. McLoughlin’s conversion banged off the cross bar…and fell in for 2 points. 14-0 for the home team. Westshore got on the board just before half. Their #6 picked up a loose ball and reacted quickly, stiff-arming one BLRC defender on his way into the end zone! That ended the first half 14-5 for the home team.
Mat MacKenzie gets outside the Westshore defence. Photo by Pj Carr
The 2nd half was scoreless for 20 minutes before Neil MacLaine finally got the BLRC on the board after a prolonged sequence inside the Westshore 22m. The convert fell short but the BLRC were back on the front foot, 19-5. MacLaine’s score seemed to open the floodgates at Johnny Mcloughlin dove in for a try a minute later after splitting the centres. Ben McIvor ended the game with a try just before the final whistle taking a long pass from McLoughlin to score untouched. Final score 29-5 for the BLRC.
The full game can be seen here: https://youtu.be/b5_xfdmL2Vs
BLRC Premier Men 34 – Westshore RFC 16
Not a good start for the BLRC as the game’s first whistle would be blown to signify a try for Westshore’s #14 Sitiveni Nacoko. Westshore had kicked a ball deep into the Burnaby end and the reception was extremely botched, allowing the ball to bounce into the BLRC goal. Nacoko was charging down the kick and barely had to alter direction to pounce on it for 5 points. Westshore’s scrum half Mark Didscombe made quick of the convert and the home side was down 7-0 with less than a minute gone.
Micha Govorchin fixes his man & gives the pass. Photo by Pj Carr
At the 6 minute mark, the Burnaby Lake backs responded through their centres. After a lineout just inside the Westshore end, the ball was sent to the backs where Jeke Gotegote drew in two defenders and popped to a charging Kimi Vunituraga who froze the final defender and scored beneath the posts. It was great to see Kimi regain some form after a quiet first game last week vs the Lomas. He sustained a rather serious injury just before the season at the Langford 7’s and missed the entire first half. Kimi has a unique (for BC) combination of speed, size and skill that the Premier Backline has been sorely missing. Nolan Shelley, who was pulled from the Reserves pre-game warm up to start for the Prems, hit the easy convert to tie the game at 7.
At 10 minutes the BLRC were penalized just outside their 22m and Didscombe slotted a 3-pointer to give Westshore the lead, 10-7. 5 minutes later the BLRC were pressing and were awarded a scrum at the Westshore 5m line. The ball ended up in Jeke Gotegote’s hands and he bulldozed through 2 defenders to score standing up. Nolan Shelley added 2 points to put the BLRC ahead 14-10.
Kimi Vunituraga prepares to offload. Photo by Pj Carr
The BLRC took another untimely penalty directly in front of their posts at the 22m and Didscombe would be called upon again to add 3 points. 14-13 for the BLRC. He would get another chance at the 27 minute mark and made good on it as well to put Westshore ahead 16-14. This would be the final points allowed by Burnaby Lake on the day. Nolan Shelley was given his first shot at goal after a Westshore penalty inside their 10m line and he split the uprights to make the score 17-16 for Burnaby Lake going into the 2nd half.
The first 20 minutes of the 2nd half was played almost exclusively in the Westshore end but the BLRC were unable to get any points out of it until Kimi Vunituraga took a Max Tacket offload inside the 5m. Kimi was brought down and the forwards got closer with a pick and go. Kimi stayed with the pack and took the next pick and go over the try line. The convert was wide so the score was 22-16 with 15 minutes left to play.
Off the kickoff, Westshore pinned the BLRC in their own end, got a turnover and pushed the home team back to their goal line. A defensive stand of epic proportions played out with Westshore trying to cross that paint in a spot that would give their kicker an opportunity to put them ahead and maybe, just maybe claim a scalp at Burnaby Lake. Hindsight is 20/20 but they should have taken the points on a penalty and tried to get back into the BLRC end to do it again because after 6 minutes a knock on gave the BLRC a scrum and Cole McQueen the opportunity to clear the ball with the 6 point lead still intact. Westshore chose to throw the ball in quickly and swing the ball wide but Vunituraga caused a turnover and the ball was sent wide to Cole McQueen at the BLRC 10m line and he galloped all the way in under the posts. Shelley converted to put the BLRC ahead 29-16 with about 5 minutes to play.
After a Nacoko run that brought Westshore back into the BLRC half, a fancy pass too many put the ball back into the BLRC’s hands and Darren McCrory did his best Cole McQueen impression taking a Cole Mosychuk pass at his own 10m and scampering into the corner of the end zone to finish the game 34-16 for the home team.
The game was obviously a lot closer than the final score would indicate as Westshore was in the game until the end and had they gotten points of any kind when they were camped out inside the BLRC’s 22m then we could have seen a different result. Alas, when McQueen booted the ball out of the Burnaby end the change in Westshore’s body language was noticeable and the game was all but over.
The McQueen + McCrory tries were just a formality.
The full game can be seen here: https://youtu.be/0ZmC9b_qU-A
This week sees the BLRC Premier Men & Reserves travel to Jericho Park to take on the Ravens, the Premier Women are on the road to Capilano, and the 2nd Div are still off. The 2nds don’t see action in 2018 until Feb 17 through some weird twist of scheduling.