Burnaby Weekend Match Reports: Wins in Women's Div 1; Men's 3rds and Premier Reserve; Edged by Pacific Pride in Men's Premier
by Mike Devlin
BLRC 3rd Div Men 102 – Ridge Meadows Bruins 5
A bit of a mismatch with the 3rd Div Men taking advantage of a bit of a depleted Bruins team. Just everything that the BLRC tried worked and if not for the brilliant effort of the Bruins Connor Epp on a big run at the end of the first half, would have played shut out ball. As one would imagine from the score line, every player in Blue & White looked great but we’d single out winger Adam Paolella who scored 4 first half tries and Taylor Skwarok and Jakub Schmid who each had 3. In the pack, Hooker Chase McCrum impressed once again with strong running and great lineout ball while the captain & 2nd row Trevor Flynn stood out in all aspects of the game.
A week off for the 3rds and then they travel to Squamish on Mar 14th.
The full game can be seen here: https://youtu.be/lCX4xV5iH80
BLRC Women 87 - United RFC 14
Another strong performance by the BLRC Women. The forwards do such a great job of tying up defenders in the midfield and it leaves plenty of space out wide for the backs to score points. Though the Forwards did get some credit on the scoresheet this weekend, most of the points were scored by the backs with Hillier, Van Vugt, Fern, Taylor and Govorchin racking up most of the tallies. BLRC Vet Katie Grudzinski got to have a go at inside center on Saturday and that was fun to watch. She’s a powerful straight-ahead runner that took a few defenders with her any time she was brought down. It was great to see Carly Walker back out. Another BLRC legend who is as tough as it gets in the pack. United had some pace and though they only crossed the paint a few times, they were always dangerous and only one slipped tackle away from a few more try’s. The women are off until the 14th when they travel to White Rock to play Bayside. That promises to be a competitive one so if you can make it down to South Surrey, please get out to support the BLRC Women!
The full game can be seen here: https://youtu.be/GbtD34Yfta4
BLRC Premier Reserve Men 34 – United RFC 15
A slow start for the BLRC Reserves who came out flat and seemed to assume based on standings that the win was already in the bag. United had other ideas. The BLRC Reserves had put up over 200 points in their past 3 outings, and perhaps that played into an improper head space as the backs looked to be doing Harlem Globetrotter impressions as they loosely tossed around the ball and the forwards assumed that every ruck took just one man to win. Our Eastern neighbors had a big team on the pitch and played a physical brand of rugby that it took the BLRC over 30 minutes or so to adjust to. As an observer you could see from the get-go that United had come to play and that, whether they knew it or not, the BLRC were in a tough game. United scored first through their big center Gord Alliksaar. The United veteran took the ball into the BLRC 22m at 7 minutes on a hard run and got it back 2 phases later, pushing through a soft tackle attempt to score. The convert was wide but United had the upper hand. At 20 minutes, United added to their lead. The captain Hans Stander made a break through the BLRC defensive line, tossing the ball to the supporting Aaron Borg who took it the rest of the way under the posts. Their #14 made the conversion to give them a 12-0 lead. With about 5-minutes to go in the half, United drew a penalty inside the BLRC 22m and, responsibly, went for points adding to their lead. The score stood at 15-0 for the visitors and the home sideline was quiet, while the visitors was loud. The state of the sidelines was short lived however as the BLRC got their act together and went on to score 34 unanswered points. First up, just before the halftime break, Doug Provost-Smith rode a hard line through a tackle in for a try! 15-5 at the half.
Cian Keegan breaks a tackle vs United. Photo by Amy Rankin
The BLRC changed out some personnel during the break and the “spares” had a big impact on the game. No impact was bigger than that of Team captain Michael Gough who immediately added structure and accountability to his squad, changing the dynamic of the team and allowing them to control the final 40 minutes. The BLRC cut the lead with 10 minutes gone in the half; Big Scott MacKay rolling through the defensive line from in close. The convert was short, but the score was now 15-10. A few minutes later Harry Curtin took a pass inside his 22m and cut the United defensive line. With one defender to beat and support on either side he popped a high ball in behind the FB which bounced right into, the newly subbed on, Blake Steele’s hands. The United FB did a great job of recovering and catching up to Steele but sensing the danger, Steele passed over the shoulder to Curtin who scored it. Nolan Shelley added the extras and the BLRC took their first lead of the game, 17-15. From the re-start the ball was sent wide into the backline where runs from Karunathasan, Brady and Keegan brought the ball into the United 22m. Flanker Duncan Bird ended up with the ball and fixed the final United defender before tossing the ball to the sideline where winger Jack Brady was waiting. Brady scored to put the Reserves ahead 22-15. At 74 minutes, there was a tackle near the United 10m line, close to the touch line. Scrumhalf Blake Steele looked up and noticed a distinct last of bodies guarding the short side, so he picked up and tore off down the touchline, crossing the goal line untouched. 27-15 for BLRC. On the games final whistle Blake Steele would score again, quick tapping on a penalty just outside the United 5m for the try. Shelley added the extras to end it 34-15.
A great effort from the visitors who surprised many people on Saturday. Their record does not look like the team that showed up at Burnaby Lake on Saturday. A good final 45 minutes for the BLRC who took some hits and regrouped, pulling together to claim a BP win. That’s all you can ask for.
The full game can be seen here: https://youtu.be/hH2adrRG8FY
BLRC Premier Men 25 – Pacific Pride 27
A much-anticipated match up that saw the return of 4 young BLRC players and fan favourites to Burnaby Lake! The club was in the fortunate position of having Taitusi & Siaki Vikilani, Austin James and Nik Hildebrand participate in the reincarnation of the Pacific Pride. Under the tutelage of Jamie Cudmore and Adam Kleeburger, all 4 showed a real improvement in fitness and, the 3 that played on Saturday, an improvement in skills. Though the loss of 4 young up and comers is a tough pill to swallow for any club, we would urge all clubs to push their young players towards the rebirth of this great program!
Hildebrand vs Longbone. Photo by Amy Rankin
The BLRC controlled the first 40 minutes, running hard + physical lines through their forwards as well as using a constant inside pass to big winger Gino Paolella. The home side struck first when a Pride penalty in their own half was punished by Neil Maclaine to the tune of 3 points. The BLRC added to their lead with 15 minutes gone in the game through David Dinbandhu. Neil Maclaine had gained some yards on a nice run but was brought down inside the Pride half of the pitch. David Dinbandhu was on the BLRC side of the ruck and saw a distinct lack of focus on the fringe defence, so the big center grabbed the ball and took off, going 35m for a beauty try. Maclaine made the conversion to put the BLRC up 10-0. Five minutes later it was captain Mike O’Toole breaking a tackle at the Pride 10m line and outpacing the rest of the defence for a try! The score stood 15-0. At twenty-five minutes with the BLRC Forwards threatening along the Pride goal line, big Callum Toi bulldozed through the young defensive line for the BLRC’s 3rd try. The BLRC’s conversion was wide on that one as well, so the score stood 20-0 with about 14-minutes to play in the half. The Pride responded with a mauling try from the 5m after a BLRC penalty gave them the opportunity to move easily to the 5. The maul was set up very well and I believe their hooker, Ed Ilnicki, was the man with the ball when it touched down. The FB Thomas Isherwood made short work of the challenging conversion (as he did with every kicking opportunity throughout the day!) and so it was 20-7. With only a few minutes left in the half, Anton Ngongo made a break into the BLRC end and passed to Crosby Stewart. O’Toole was in a good position to stop him and pushed him towards the sideline, catching him but sliding off the tackle just before the goal line. Watkins came flying in and both men went flying through the corner flag. After a very brief discussion, try was given. The kick was made (another beauty) and so it was 20-14 for the BLRC Men heading into halftime.
Other than a Pride 3 pointer it was all quiet for the opening 10 minutes of the 2nd half until a Pride Player has a rather impressive breakdown for about 50 seconds that involves (in order) a no wrap shoulder charge, looking down at and then stepping on a prone BLRC player who is lying on the ground, entering a maul from the side with a shoulder to the head of the ball carrier and a swinging arm and then (After being tossed out of the maul) punching the man who tossed him out of the maul in the back of the head while the player is facing the other way, jumping on him and punching him again. It starts at about 1:00:10 in the video below. Watching it live, I wasn’t even mad, I was impressed! The refs decided it was worthy of a yellow card and so the BLRC would have a man advantage. The Blue & White struck almost right away with Hayden Munck freeing Brian Fitzpatrick up for a 30-yard scamper and 5 more points. The BLRC boots were unfortunately misfiring and so the BLRC score line wold stop ticking with the team having a 25-17 advantage with 14 minutes to go. Misfortune would strike though with BLRC captain Mike O’Toole being immediately issued a yellow card for an infraction at the breakdown and so now the Pride would have the advantage. They chipped away at the lead with another penalty kick (Fullback Isherwood was money from all over the pitch!) to make it 25-20 with 10 minutes to go. The BLRC tried to shut out the game with some forward ball and eventually drawing a penalty but after the lineout, were assessed a penalty for holding onto the ball in the tackle. The Pride quick tapped and Prevost made a break down the sideline to get into the BLRC 22m. The ball went wide to Austin James who had nothing but green in front of him to tie the game. Isherwood hit the conversion and so the game ended.
Vikilani tryin to escape the tackle. Photo by Amy Rankin
Other than the one 2nd half incident it was a great day for rugby at Burnaby Lake. The BLRC had made a priority of inviting rugby players from all over the area out to watch the games and I saw school rugby jackets from Tupper, Byrne Creek, Burnaby North, Central and Mountain on the sideline. The BLRC were unfortunate not to get the win. Had another kick hit or something of that nature (possibly a red card been issued?) perhaps the club could have swept the day but alas, the BLRC settled for a double BP loss.
The Pride player that stood out to me the most was Isherwood, who was solid all around the pitch but batted 100 off the tee. 3 of those kicks were low percentage kicks from at or near the sideline. In the forwards I thought Austin James (I’m biased) stood out the most. He looks like he’s grown by about 5 years between last season and now. He made some good tackles was their primary lineout option and , of course, put the nail in the coffin.
On the BLRC side, Lucas Albornoz was the stand out for me in the forwards. Made lost of positive yards, and tons of tackles. In the backs, a tie between Hayden Munck and David Dinbandhu. The BLC Premier Men are off until the 21st when they travel to UVIC!
The full game can be seen here: https://youtu.be/Bth-DyI31jU