Burnaby Claim Win in Men's Premier Over UBC - Host Rowers on Week 2
by Mike Devlin
BLRC 3rd Division Men 5 – UBC Totems 27
After entering the BLRC Men’s 3rd XV in the BCRU 2nd Division League for the previous 2 seasons, the decision was made to re-enter the BCRU 3rd Div League. The foray into 2nd Division were a bit of a step up in competition and the BLRC gave as good as they got, making the playoffs both seasons. Having teams in the Premier, Reserves and 2nd Div leagues creates some logistical challenges stemming from the fact that the 2nd Div team was separated from the top 2 teams more than 50% of the time and so in order to encourage more club days and a better club atmosphere the BLRC 3rds resumed play in the 3rd Division.
UBC did not give them a warm welcome back to the league, jumping out in front 22-0 before the BLRC answered with a try from 2nd Row Trevor France. UBC were fit and fast, as was expected, and they have some potential Premier stars on the roster. I only recognized one of the players, Jacob Bourne, and he controlled the game well in the #10 jersey. His dad was certainly proud! UBC added one more try in the 2nd half, and 27-5 was your final.
The BLRC 3rd Div Men need to get more time together on Tuesday and Thursday and play to their strengths. They have lots of size and a good mixture of youth and age. Going forward, if they can play a bit quicker from the breakdown and attack the defence rather than constantly taking the ball flat footed, they will give a lot of other teams’ fits trying to stop them.
The full game can be seen here: https://youtu.be/qInDkd4pmOg
BLRC Premier Reserve Men 31 – UBC Braves 25
This was a heck of a game to watch. Back and forth, and anyone’s game right up until the final whistle. UBC are deep this year. They have talent through all 3 teams and their players looked confident going on to the pitch. The BLRC Reserves were mostly familiar faces to the Blue & White faithful though there were some new players in the roster who showed well in their Blue & White debut. A few local players from the Fraser Valley have decided to step away from their legendary clubs to venture down Highway 1 in order to take a shot at higher level rugby and 2 of them, Hooker Dylan Vermette from the Surrey Beavers and Winger Eluc-Travis Couture from Langley RFC made their start with the Reserves. Both stood out to those on the sidelines with Couture scoring his first try in the game. Hopefully the first of many.
Nick Vandergoes cuts through the centres on his way to 5 points. Photo credit Pj Carr
BLRC Fly half Nolan Shelley was on fire for the full 80 minutes on Saturday. Nolan had, in my humble opinion, one of his best games ever. The back row of Doug Provost-Smith, Dom Baptista and Walter Homewood are as good as it gets at this level and they played like it. 8-Man Domenic Baptista was rewarded for his play with his first taste of Premier Rugby later in the day. Being inserted with 14 minutes to go into the high-pressure Premier match showed the confidence that Premier coach Walt Brandl has in the young back rower!
UBC started the game strong, using a powerful set piece to draw a penalty and move into the BLRC 22m. A strong tackle from Walter Homewood was followed up with a quick jackal and the BLRC returned the ball 80m, via Nick Vandergoes, all the way under the UBC uprights. Vandergoes has size and speed and I believe that the young winger is one to watch out for in the years ahead. Shelley added the extras to go ahead 7-0. At the 16-minute mark the UBC #15 got his team on the board with a penalty, 7-3. The students took the lead at 30 minutes with their #13 crashing over the try line. The Fullback hit a nice convert from out wide to put his team up 10-7. Just before the half Nick Vandergoes would tally again, taking a hard line through the centers at the UBC 22m and dotting down under the posts. Shelley’s convert put the BLRC back in the lead, 14-10 at the break.
UBC moved the scoreboard early in the new half, their #8 finishing a timely break from the #4. The convert put the students back in the lead 17-14. The FB added to the lead shortly thereafter with a successful kick from in front of the posts. With 25 minutes to go, the BLRC were pressing inside the UBC 22m. Nolan Shelley popped a high ball just behind the UBC winger and it bounced right into Couture’s hands where he dove over the line for his first Burnaby Lake try. Shelley hit the difficult convert to give the home team the lead 21-20. Off the kickoff, UBC were assessed a penalty and Burnaby Lake FB Blake Steele caught them napping, tapping at the 50m line and going in under the sticks. Shelley added the extras to go ahead 28-20. Nolan Shelley added to the lead with a penalty kick to cap the BLRC scoring at 31. UBC added a try on the game’s final play to finish it, 31-25.
The full game can be seen here: https://youtu.be/hYjiXa08LNU
BLRC Premier Men 10 – UBC Thunderbirds 3
At 8 minutes, UBC #10 Jack Scher got the Thunderbirds on the board, punishing a BLRC infraction in front of the posts. That was the last event to move the numbers for another 60 minutes. That’s not to say the games was boring by any means, it was non top action with hard hits and lots of scoring chances, but nothing finished.
As mentioned previously, the UBC program is deep this year and they have another bumper crop of athletes to work with, led by their captain Michael Smith. They are big and fit and I don’t envy those who have to play them once they have had some more time together. Speaking to Curry Hitchborn he said that UBC will play 14 games in the 1st half between the BC Premiership, their Japan tour and the Uni Championships so it will give their players plenty of time to sort out any kinks before the 2nd half playoff push.
Longbone vs Worden on the blind side of the scrum. Photo credit Amy Rankin
On the BLRC side of the ball, some injuries in the final week of preseason changed the look of the proposed backline with Reid Watkins, Manar Kulkhan and Kimi Vunituraga all being ruled out for the foreseeable future. Everyone who stepped in to fill the roles, played fantastic ball. Ben McDougall has spent almost a year rehabbing his shoulder and was excellent at outside center, making some important stops on defence in his first game since October. Geoff Ryan at 9 changed the whole look of the BLRC attack, and it worked, with Geoff scoring a try, a conversion and a penalty. Cian Keegan was added to the back 3 at FB and was great on attack while adding a big boot when needed. Up front, there were plenty of new additions. In the front row, the veteran (and Man of the Match) Adrian Longbone was joined by two former Surrey Beaver in Hooker Jamie Kelly and Prop Chris Atkinson. The back row featured a newcomer from Wales, Joey Tomlinson and saw the return from NZ of BLRC fan favourite Lucas Albornoz. Deep in the 2nd quarter the BLRC rewarded with an attacking scrum on the UBC 5m line. While the initial drive was stopped. The wily veteran Geoff Ryan faked one pass to get around a flat-footed defender and then faked another to breeze past a would-be tackler on his way in for 5 points and the lead. Ryan added the convert to make the score 7-3 for the Blue & White. With time winding down and the BLRC pressuring, a penalty was award and Ryan made no mistake on the kick. 10 to 3 was your final.
Toi, O'Toole & Tomlinson wrap up UBC's Nicholas Allen. Photo credit Amy Rankin
There was plenty to be optimistic about if you are a BLRC fan. The tackling was top notch, in the forward and backs. The scrum looked very strong and it seems that it can be counted on as a strength again this year. Also, there’s positives that can be found in the fact that the BLRC controlled most of he 2nd half.
James Kelly attempts to fend off Connor Sampson. Photo credit Pj Carr
The lineouts need to be a concern on Tuesday. The throws seemed fine and the boosts looked good, they just seemed to be off on the timing. If they can secure their own ball and set up a maul quickly, there won’t be too many other teams capable of stopping that maul inside the 22’s. They have a week to work that out.
This week all 3 Men’s teams host the Rowing Cub while the Women open their season in Abbotsford.
The full game can be seen here: https://youtu.be/cR-Vun2sg-c