Burnaby Send Women to Premier Final: Men Wrap Up Season in Semi-Finals
by Mike Devlin
BLRC Premier Women 26 - Capilano RFC 7 (by Walt Brandl)
The three-week sequence of a huge win over the league leaders followed by a close road loss to Seattle followed by a blow-out loss at home to Castaway-Wanderers did not exactly put the BLRC women in a great space… backing themselves onto a road semi-final against Capilano. The Ladies of the Lake have been nothing this year if not unpredictable and as the coaching staff is fond of saying, “they will surprise you”. And surprise they did, coming away with a 26-7 victory over an evenly matched Caps team in the rain at Klahanie. Burnaby gained territory early off the foot of fly half Lee Van Vugt. The home team tried to run their way out of trouble but the staunch BLRC defense allowed no escape from the 22-metre purgatory. After sustained pressure, #13, Jessica Harvey, running hard line off a Van Vugt break would open the scoring. Megan Manson was good on the convert. From the re-start the North Shore women gained some sustained possession and territory but no serious threats were allowed by a now confident Blue and White defensive wall. Burnaby again worked the ball back into the Cap zone, this time to score through the forwards on a 5-meter driving run by Lauren Tagg. Manson was again good on the conversion. Just prior to the break, rookie front rower Iona Schamberger took an uncharacteristic yellow card. The Caps women took full advantage of their man advantage to begin to turn the tide resulting in a try to open the second half. Now at 14-7 the game appeared to be anyone’s to take. Once back at full strength, the BLRC Prems began to dominate set piece. This combined with an unwavering defensive set up proved to be the right combination to go through into the final. Gen Gratton supporting a Van Vugt slide to the outside scored in the corner and Harvey on the blind-side with her second removed any doubt as to the outcome.
The BLRC women will make their first appearance in the final in four years against their traditional dance partners, Westshore. Kick-off is at 2:30 in Abbotsford.
BLRC 2nd Div Men 17 – Vancouver Rowing Club 24
A good & tough match to start the day. All reports were that the guys were up for it but taking on the first-place team was never going to be easy. James Reekie and Barry Bonell led the attack in the backs and generated some offence along with Mathew Chan in the forwards and the net result was 3 try’s scored but the BLRC allowed 4, so golf season starts now. It’s been an inspiring year for the 2nd Div Men and I hope they can continue to build on the success they’ve had this season and take the next step in 2019.
BLRC Premier Reserve Men 12 – UBCOB Ravens 25
The only game I got to see live was a good battle and, in the end, the most deserving team punched their ticket to the finals! The first quarter of the game was controlled by the BLRC Forwards who pushed around the scrums with ease and brought the ball to the Ravens try line 3 or 4 times but couldn’t punch one in. Much credit to the Ravens who came out with a much better game plan in the wet weather. They correctly let the ball do the work and simply punted the ball high + back into the BLRC end anytime they gained possession in their own half. That brand of rugby works in BC, and it certainly works when the rain is pouring.
Premier Reserve season MVP Johnny McLoughlin – photo by PJ Carr
Their 2 first half try’s came from that strategy as did their final 2 in the 2nd half. Much credit to their flyhalf and coach James Thompson for the execution of it over 80 minutes. The BLRC never adapted to the weather and were still trying to play expansive “running” rugby…making 2 nice offloads while gaining some yards and then knocking on a slippery ball. If the UBCOB brass can devise a plan for this Saturday and keep at it for 80 minutes than I would think the Cup should be theirs. Good luck to them in the finals.
BLRC Premier Men 8 – UBCOB Ravens 28
Reid Watkins spins the ball to the backs – Photo by Pj Carr
The game was back and forth for 25 scoreless minutes. Both teams had their chances but neither defence allowed points. That changed at 25 minutes when Ravens Flyhalf Adam McQueen took a shot at goal on a BLRC penalty and split the uprights to give the Ravens a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. Andrew Porter scored an unconverted try for the BLRC to bring the BLRC back into it, but the Ravens led 11-5 at the half. With 18 minutes gone in the 2nd half Cole McQueen got 3 points back when a Raven was penalized near the posts to make the score 11-8, but after that, it was all Ravens and they added 17 unanswered points to clinch their spot in the Provincial Finals.
Prop Bryce Worden trying to break through the Ravens defence – photo by Pj Carr
So that’s it for the Men’s XV season. All 3 teams bow out in the semi-finals to very strong competition. Along the sideline there were some disappointed faces amongst the BLRC Faithful who have come to expect numerous teams competing for Provincial Championships every year. As a few days have passed I expect that those dedicated alumni, family + friends have come to terms with how difficult it is to have all your teams competing for a championship every year and that the players who closed out their seasons on Saturday tried their best but simply got beat by the better team on the day. For the Premier Men, this marks 7 straight seasons where they have advanced to the league semi-finals or further. For the Premier Reserve Men/1st Div…that’s 8 straight. The 2nd Div Men advanced to the semi finals in the 3rd Division for most of this decade before making the jump to 2nd Div this year and finishing in the top 4. That level of success is difficult to maintain and on any given Saturday when you play against the best in the league, sometimes you lose.
Other young Prop Nik Hildebrand getting a pass off in contact – photo by PJ Carr
This year there will be one BLRC team competing to bring another Provincial Championship back to the home of the Blue & White! Please get out and support the BLRC Premier Women this Saturday in Abbotsford! There will be a supporter’s bus leaving Burnaby Lake at 1pm sharp on Saturday going out to Abbotsford. The bus will be returning after the Premier Men’s Final. To secure a seat on the bus please get in touch with Club President Simon Smoldon asap: firstname.lastname@example.org
Many Teams~One Club