Beavers Battle Bruins, Crows and Abby at Home: 2-1 Record on the Day
Three action packed games at Sullivan Heights Park were had on Saturday. The Beavs where back at home with all three men’s sides taking to the pitch. Each Division hosted a different club, which is not a common thing in the local rugby scene, but much more common this season.
It made for a challenge hosting Ridge Meadows and Kelowna post-match as no one wanted to leave the field and miss the action of the other games that day. The club still ensured both Ridge Meadows and Kelowna were well fed and had enough to drink before they departed the field. The rain held off for most the day on Saturday, and the field was still in excellent condition considering the amount of rugby that had been played on it up to this date.
SBAA 3rd Division Men – Loss 17-8
The Thirsty 3rds started the day off with a big match against the Bruins. The boys lost a close match to them no less than a week prior and the team geared up to take it to the Bruins in Beaver territory. In typical 3rd Div fashion the referee allowed a lot of things slide as he wanted to get some flow into the game; Lumpy definitely lets the little things go in his matches. For the 3rds, it was the countless knocked on balls in contact that were their biggest problem. It was the simple hit ups with the ball that the Beavers were struggling with throughout the match. Fortunately for Surrey the Bruins struggled with the same thing, so it made for a lot of turned over ball.
Bryan Smart at 10 did his best throughout his time on the field pounding the ball deep for territory, but it seemed as if his aim was off on Saturday. The Bruins' fullback was quick to recover kicks coming in his direction and would run the ball hard back down the pitch rarely looking to kick. The Beavs were at their best pounding the ball up with simple north/south rugby even though knock ons were constant. The Bruins played the same style and they had a slight edge in the breakdowns as they would constantly work to get under the Beavs' skin. The Bruins' hooker was clearly the biggest wanker on the field as he constantly took the part of throwing cheap shots and spending most his time mocking and undermining his counterparts, he clearly not understanding the sportsmanship that should always be present in a rugby match.
The match for the most part was played on the Beavers' side of half or at mid-field. As soon as it appeared a team was getting an edge on offense a spoiled ball or penalty would give the defending team a breather. The Beavs defended pretty well in the 1st half only allowing 10 points on the board, and getting a PK in their favor too.
At halftime the Beavers only down 10-3 looked to get some more points on the board and work the ball down the field. However, like the 1st half the Beavs were stalled on offense by sloppy play. The Bruins had much more experience players on their side and they did a great job weathering the storm and countering the Beavers’ attack with their own. Some of their players were a challenge for the Beavers to take down including their big center Josh Ladd. The Beavers however kept their nose down and kept playing hard. The 3rds are used more as a developmental side for the Beavs and it is always important to the club to try and get every single player they possibly can into the match. With fresh legs coming onto the field the boys pushed the Bruins back closer to their own goal line. Finally some quality phase play turned into an excellent hard run by Sandeep Sekhon who rumbled over the line for the team's first try of the game. A missed convert made it then a two point deficit for the Beavs with ample time to play.
Unfortunately a mismanaged missed PK by the Bruins was caught but not touched down by the Beavers in their own try zone. Instead it was elected to try and run the ball back on attack. Surrey's full-back was tackled around the Beavs' 10-meter line and following a scrum for the Bruins the Beavs let the Bruins rumble in for a try. That 3 minutes of play pretty well summed up the struggle with the Beavs' 3rds at this time which is just a lack of experience from the club’s players. Currently the club is going through some growing pains with how the 3rd Div boys are playing, and the more the players play and get to practice the better the results will be.
After tirelessly trying to punch another score in the Beavs just couldn’t get it down and lost a tough game against the Bruins. It was a hard game to play and full credit to the players that played their guts out. Wins are always hard to gain against club’s that field only one team, full credit to the Bruins who play a hard hitting style of rugby.
Tries: Sandeep Sekhon (1)
Penalty Kicks: Bryan Smart (1)
SBAA 2nd Division Men – Win 33-29
The Kelowna Crows came down the Coq with a solid group of players for their only match up against the Beavers in the regular season. Kelowna, one of many one team clubs in the Div 2 competition were definitely a Div 2 side that packed a good punch. They currently have a ton of quality players that could easily be playing at a higher level if they elected too. Surrey knew what they would get from the Crows from past experience and elected to come out guns a blazing against their interior rivals.
Surrey was quick to get on the score board as Tyler Johnson broke free out wide and danced around the sideline. He got the home team up quickly on the score board with a solid offload to Sammy Raikadroka. It should be noted that yes there was a score board up and actively being updated with the real time score. A missed convert made it 5-0 for the Beavs. No more than 6 minutes later the Beavs were making some excellent yards out wide, and the Beaver backs were finding excellent space to play with early on in the match. Beaver veteran Jeff Bergunder found an excellent gap in tight and ran the ball underneath the posts for the second try of the day. An easy convert attempt was good by Gatto giving the home side 12-0 lead.
Gatto had some excellent shots at goal in this match and made it count for the most part. In the 1st half he added two more shots at goal adding 6 more points to the score. Andrew McIntyre added a 1st half try to extend Surrey's lead 23-10. Issues in the 1st half included the Beavs losing the battle in the scrum and were once again being punished in the sets. The sets have been a concern for the Div 2 boys for a little while now as they continue to wait patiently for their regulars to get back healthy. It is almost the last piece in the puzzle the Beavs need at the Div 2 level to be the number one threat in the comp. Solid play from Jon Eadie, Joey Murphy, Ryan Mitchell, and Dylan Vermette still kept the pack in the battle in tight. Loose head Aaron Viola with space is an absolute play maker proving to all backs that the front rowers have the best hands on the field. Jayden Grewal, a young 18 year old is doing his best at the Div 2 level, learning quickly that size isn't everything.
The Beavs played an excellent 1st half of rugby and needed to stick to their strengths which were mostly in exploiting the Kelowna backline. It’s funny how quickly things can change though, and the Beavs found themselves in trouble in the 2nd half. Poor decisions created some big miscues for the Beavs and the game plan fell apart. As players fell further into their own individual games the players were trying to do way too much individually. Players that don’t usually kick the ball decided it was their turn to give it ago, and players were making high risk plays for low percentage gains. The 2nd half became chaos for the Beavs, and the referee. Numerous cards were given out in the match, and player’s frustrations showed in the 2nd half. Rugby can be a very emotional game and the emotions showed in this match with both teams battling hard until the end. However, emotions need to be controlled and a well-disciplined and experienced team will find ways to stay focused on the main goal which should always be to win the match.
The Crows came thundering back in the 2nd half and it looked as if they had finally got their legs back from the trip down. Gatto slotted a penalty kick again to keep Surrey in the lead but the margin was increasingly getting tighter. Another shot at points was missed wide but 3rd Div star Darian Archer was brought into the game as a blood sub and made an excellent hit on the Kelowna player who didn’t elect to touch the ball down immediately. The Kelowna player lost the ball forward in the collision, and with the ball still in the try zone Tyler Johnson seized the opportunity to dive on it giving the Beavs a beauty try and then a convert following the score.
With not much time left in the match the scoreboard on the sideline read 33-29 in favor for the Beavs, but within the chaos of the 2nd half it had appeared the referee miscounted the amount of points he had on his score sheet. Kelowna was pushing further and further into Surrey's half when a penalty was given in favor of the Crows. The Kelowna skipper tapped the ball and kicked it out of bounds ending the match which confused everyone on the Beavs’ sideline. It had appeared the referee informed Kelowna's that they were up 29-28. But the referee must have forgotten to mark down one of the tries the Beavs got as the team, coaches, and fans were confident they had all the scores accounted for. In fact, the Beavers argued they held the lead for the entirety of the match. As the confusion spread throughout the players and sideline the club was reassured that the referee’s final score would be protested as their trusted team manager had video evidence of every score they made in the match. An honest mistake made by the referee in a very intense game, where emotions did run very high on both sides.
The Beavs will take this as another hard win, making it three challenging games for the Div 2 side in this season half so far. Every game has been a tough win for the Beavs, and it has proven that they are a side full of character being successful in winning three tightly contested matches in a row.
Tries: Sammy Raikadroka (1) Jeff Bergunder (1) Andrew McIntyre (1) Tyler Johnson (1)
Converts: Brandon Gatto (2)
Penalty Kicks: Brandon Gatto (3)
SBAA 1st Division Men – Win 37-20
The 1st Div men were finally back on the schedule after having a lighter start to the 2nd half of the rugby season. After playing a much heavier 1st half compared to other clubs in the comp, the Beavs were well rested to take on the always formidable Abbotsford RFC. Another game on the day meant another club with all their resources focused on their one team playing that day. Abbotsford brought a very strong side to Surrey, and a highly respected club that has some top tier players coming through their program. Abby had a solid group of backs who were backed by an oversized forward pack. However, the Beavs weren't any slouches themselves and had a solid roster ready take the field with a few well rested experienced players coming off the bench too. The Beavs had lost a handful of 1st Div players through the break, but that just meant there was opportunity for other club players to rise to the top.
The game was played as advertised and it had big hits, awesome plays, and highlight reel tries from both sides. Abby got to an early lead with a penalty kick that split the uprights but the Beavs put their stamp on the game with a big break by the backs. As usual if you give the Beaver backs too much space and time they will make you pay for it. It was forward Giusseppe Lagrutta that finished off some flash and dash by backline star James Bailey to put the Beavs up. Jamie Beaton had an outstanding match at stand off on Saturday, and it probably was his best game in recent memory. Not only with his flash of brilliance found in his running style but also in his kicks for touch, points, and organizing his backline. Connecting with winger James Bailey and Marcus Tam on a few counter attacks in the 1st half, the backline flyers made some fantastic runs down the field. On the opposite wing big man Aaron Martin grinded his way up the field like a hard running back rower. Clay Ross grounded a few opponents that stood in his way with him and his outside center Reid Gordon playing very strong.
The pack, were once again outweighed but not out played. Full credit to Abby they hit hard, and punish you if you try to tackle them softly. Abby’s big boys were contained for the most part very nicely by the Beavs who punished on defense. Skipper James Kelly led by example, by proving a broken nose in the first 20’ is nothing but a scratch when you got 60 plus minutes of a rugby game to still play. A couple times he went off the field to get some cleanup done but he definitely played with the warrior mentality on Saturday. The front row with Nick Bruce back at hooker spot was solid; arguably the best pound for pound front row in the comp. The backrow work horses Iain Small and Giusseppe Lagrutta were well supported by the Kelly brothers, with Steve Friesen and Matt Bose playing hard minutes in tight. And like any game at Division 1 everyone needed to be rearing to go as the level of play is fast pace and hard hitting.
Although the Beavs went into half with a 17-6 lead it wasn’t meant to last. Right off the halftime kickoff a miss-play on defense allowed an unmarked Abby lock go on a crushing run as no one covered the b-gap off a breakdown. Try and convert was good, and Abby was right back in the match. The boys this time worked hard to pin Abby down in their side of half and were successful at getting a penalty in favor for them. With a shot for points to extend the lead Beaton got the Beavs up to a 20-13 but it would again be short lived. Abby again worked their way deep into Beaver territory and their big boys once again showed why you had to tackle them low. Again a poorly defended a/b gap at a breakdown left back rower Paul Kelly trying to drag a monster Abby lock near the Beavs’ goal line. A quick pick followed by the soft tackle gave Abby an easy score; it was soft defense by the Surrey that allowed this. Abby’s convert was good and made the score 20-20 with ample time left in the half. The match was far from over and the Beavers still had some solid play left in them. The Beavs worked efficiently off the set pieces and got their defense back in top form. Penalties were mounting on Abby’s side of the ball and the Beavers did an excellent job taking advantage of all the territory they could gain going for touch. Some great ball off lineouts resulted in some great plays and big breaks over the gain line. Slowly the boys worked their way towards Abby’s goal line and finally were fortunate enough to have Beaton finish off a beauty try.
Some miscues in the game too, but it was all understandable considering this was the lads first match back since the first week of December. But the boys stayed for the most part on the good side of the referee and were rewarded. As the referee awarded the Beavers a penalty kick Beaton successfully slotted it as an Abby player was sent off the field. Now up a player on the field Surrey looked to close out the match.
Ball retention was the name of the game following the penalty kick that put the home side up by 10 points. The boys worked hard to contain the ball as much as they could as Abby frantically looked to find an opportunity to score. Late in the half with no time left an Abby pass was picked off by the always elusive Beaton and taken back for one final tally. Touched down underneath the posts and the convert slotted the game was over.
Huge credit to Abby taking this game all the way to the late stages, and the match could have easily gone either way. The Div 1 competition continues to impress as there doesn’t seem to be a poor matchup on the field on any give Saturday.
Post-match there was an excellent host up back at the Beaverlodge where the best food in the league was offered by Chef Andy Lyons. Another successful day of rugby was had on Saturday!
Tries: Giusseppe Lagrutta (1) James Bailey (1) Jamie Beaton (2)
Converts: Jamie Beaton (4)
Penalty Kicks: Jamie Beaton (3)
The club has the Feb 10th weekend off as they look to regroup, lick their wounds, and get back to work for matches on Feb 17th.