Burnaby Weekend Match Reports: Losses to Ravens in Men's Premier - Win in Women's Premier vs Capilano
by Mike Devlin
BLRC Premier Women 14 – Capilano RFC 10 (By Walt Brandl)
While waiting until the last play of the game may not be the best way to secure a victory, it has its advantage to holding on to a two-point lead for dear life as time runs down in a hostile environment. The BLRC Premier women found the traverse across Burrard Inlet far less strenuous than the drive down the I-5 last weekend. BLRC immediately applied pressure in the Cap end and within the first 10 minutes Tianna Coutts made like Moses, parting the Caps post up defense to stroll untouched into goal. Gen (Argent a la Banque) Gratton was successful with the convert. Burnaby continued the pressure, turning over ball in the tackle and varying the attack until Gen Gratton found space with pace to the outside, touched down and again was successful with the convert. The Ladies of the Lake had to feel pretty good at half time up by 14 points and dominating on both sides of the ball.
The Capilano women had other ideas and began the second half much tighter, driving Burnaby back & running forwards off their #9. BLRC tackled again and again but consistently gave up ground. Two unconverted tries through the forwards and things were not looking good for the girls in Blue and White. Now was the time for the impact subs to make an impact. Burnaby made use of an uncharacteristically crowded bench to staunch the bleeding and change the flow of the game. Former BLRC juniors Rebecca Suchodolski and the erstwhile Thunderbird Tess Woldring both successfully stepped into the fray to hold down the fort. Caps still had a few chances but with a long field in front of them Burnaby was able to run out the clock for the 14-10 win.
In addition to the return of Tess Woldring the game also saw the return of Carolyn McEwan and Jessica Harvey who appear poised to be big contributors to the team’s push to the play-offs.
BLRC Premier Reserve Men 14 – UBCOB Ravens 27
The opening match of the day at Jericho saw a depleted BLRC side take the pitch. The BLRC have been hit by the injury bug in a big way and that combined with a historic number of suspensions and the odd unavailability that comes on any given weekend. The BLRC coaches + selection committee were thankful that the 2nd Div team had a bye on Saturday as I’m not sure that they could have fielded 3 squads.
Andrew Porter breaks a tackle in the Premier Reserve game. Photo credit Pj Carr.
To the game, the Ravens came flying out on their home pitch like it was the Super Bowl, perhaps sensing that this could be the first victory over the BLRC at the “Reserves” level in many years. The UBCOB backs were led by Gucake + Henrikson in the centers who were very fast off the line in defense and stuffed their opposites behind the gain line time and again! Their winger (McAllister, I believe?) also had a great game and was solid in his place kicking. The BLRC were missing their usual cohesiveness, and it seemed obvious that their may have been a few new faces too many in the match day 23 as the lineouts, usually a strong point for this very tall team, became a VERY weak point. Too many offloads went to empty space and there were way too many UBCOB kicks finding acres of empty space behind the BLRC back 3. Uncharacteristic play from what is normally a well drilled team. There were some bright spots, the starting front row of Liem Jung, Chris Campbell and Donovon Poitras were excellent in the scrums in the first half. Poitras was rewarded with a try in what was his 2nd start with the Reserves. Jung got the BLRC’s only other try. Johnny McLaughlin brought some life to the BLRC backline when he got the ball. He’s a hard runner and fought through a nagging knee injury to make an impact all game.
The Reserves are off until Feb 17th when they will travel to take on their rivals at UVIC. The BLRC vs UVIC Reserves has become a great battle over the years and if you are in Victoria next weekend and thinking about going to watch the 2:30 game, I strongly suggest you show up for the 12:45 game. It will be worth your while.
BLRC Premier Men 8 – UBCOB Ravens 14
What a battle!! 80 minutes of tight smash mouth rugby that will leave every player involved nursing some bruises in the week to come!
The BLRC had most of the ball in the early going and were awarded successive “make-able” shots at the posts from the 22m but the Premier squad is missing a reliable kicker and finished the games first quarter up by only 3 points. The first 15 minutes were also characterized by some weird scrums where the Ravens #3 Taylor and the BLRC’s #1 Hildebrand battled to a stalemate time and again, but the other side saw Videla, and in turn, Govorchin lifted straight up into the air. Referee Dave Smortchevsky penalized the BLRC on the first few scrums and then figured out what was happening on the next one (prop and hooker standing straight up, rather than pushing forward) and started penalizing the Ravens until they got it sorted out. Good scrum awareness from Smortchevsky. The scrum is not an easy thing for a referee to manage, especially since most have never played in the front row, but I saw some very good scrum knowledge on Saturday that shall be attributed to the instructional work that Chris Assmus and senior referees (like Smortchevsky) have been doing.
Nik Hildebrand takes on the Ravens defence. Photo credit Pj Carr.
At the 17-minute mark, the BLRC were continuing to challenge the Ravens defense and had worked the ball into the 22m but UBCOB winger Sean Ferguson read a poorly timed pass like a book and hardly had to alter speed or direction to pluck it out of the air and return it 80m for the Ravens first points. Adam McQueen hit the conversion and the Ravens led 7-3.
The BLRC held the ball and the upper hand in territory for the next 20 minutes and bent the Ravens defense on many occasions but couldn’t break them and the score remained 7-3 going into the 2nd half.
25 minutes into the 2nd half the Ravens would add to their lead. The ball had spent 99% of the half in the Ravens end with their stellar tackling preventing the BLRC any points. They finally cleared the ball via a penalty and battled inside the BLRC 22m. Eventually a scrum had the BLRC 8 man picking up + going at the 5m line. A strong tackle from his opposite knocked the ball loose and back over the try line where Ben Grant dove on it to score. McQueen made the convert and the Ravens led 14-3.
Kimi Vunituraga gets taken to ground by two UBCOB defenders. Photo credit Pj Carr.
With only a few minutes left and UBCOB down 2 men, the BLRC were awarded a 5m scrum. The pack pushed close to the paint and the ball went wide to Flyhalf Jack Caithness who sliced through the defence to score between the posts. The convert hooked wide(!!) so the score sat at 14-8 for the home side. The Ravens kicked deep but the BLRC were soon back inside the 22m. Alas, a knock on would signal the end of the comeback and the start of a few cold beers and some pasta in the Ravens club room.
You can’t say enough about the Ravens defence. Without exaggerating, their players were on defence for 60+ minutes and although the BLRC ended up inside their 22m often, they had only a penalty and an unconverted try to show for it. I think that the lack of a defined kicking specialist certainly hurt the BLRC as there were 8 points left wanting from in front of the posts throughout the game as well as a few kicking opportunities where a scrum or lineout seemed a better option. So hopefully someone gets healthy before the Island trip next week.
There were a lot of standouts on the BLRC side of the ball but I will recognize the return of Prop Nik Hildebrand who arrived back in Burnaby this week after a year in Auckland with the College Rifles and 6 months in Limerick playing with Garryowen. With Luca away in the stands of Montevideo, Longbone + Mackay unavailable, Chater suspended and Worden injured… Nik’s return couldn’t have been better timed to show up and make an impact on the Premier team. He was solid in the sets and carried the ball often around the field, all while making some good tackles on defence. The improvements he made to his game in Auckland + Limerick were extremely noticeable.
Big thanks to the Referee Society for their hard work on the day and to the Ravens and Capilano for the quality games and hosting!
Many Teams~One Club