Burnaby Lake Match Reports by Mike Devlin: Burnaby Lake vs Kats Div 2, Surrey Div 1, Capilano Women’s Premier and Pride Men’s Premier
BLRC 2nd Div Men 9 Kats RFC 24
Saturdays game was the 4th game out of 6 that the BLRC have played with uncontested scrums. During the entire 2021/22 season, the BLRC 3rd XV played one game with uncontested scrums. The rule changes brought in by the competition committee prior to the season has caused what was a minor problem to become a major one. Last season the BLRC were short on props. This was, as always, felt mostly in the 3rd Division. Rather than forfeit games, we taught 3 or 4 guys to prop and made the semi-finals with one of those new props playing significant minutes in our final game. I always assume that if the BLRC are dealing with a problem, then all other clubs are facing a similar problem. That means that we were not the only club, training our huskier back rowers and fatter hookers to play Loose Head, and virtually no games went uncontested. This year, no consequences and 67% of games arent real rugby.
A fact of life is that if you allow failure to be one of your options, it will be. If you dont, it wont. The BCRU CC has opted to not just allow failure, but to reward it and now we are basically playing Rugby League in the Mainland 2nd Division.
In the match, the BLRC 2nd Div came out strong and dominated the opening 30 minutes but had only 6 points from Peadar OBeirn to show for it. The Kats would control much of the remaining 50 minutes with high rugby IQ and pace all around the pitch. While the BLRC tackled well, most missed tackles resulted in trys. The Kats #14 had some real speed as did their 8-man.
The full game can be seen here: https://youtu.be/z7Io8fFoySE
BLRC Premier Women 17 Capilano 10
A solid game from the two Mainland rivals. Both squads missing some key players on Saturday but the level of play and cohesion was top notch. The clubs had played at Klahanie Park a few weeks earlier with Capilano holding on for a 3-point victory.
The Burnaby Lake Womens team have added some firepower this year to build on last seasons 1st Division Championship with the aim of competing for the Premier Championship this spring. Some notable additions are a trio from last years UBC championship team. Former UBC captain Madi Gold, Flanker Jade Farhat and long-time BLRC club member, Tess Woldring. The team has also welcomed a few key transplants from Bayside; center Natalie King and Fullback Miri Naiobasali as well as 8-man Georgia Hood formally of Kamloops RFC. As well, a few young local players like Jaidyn Mawhinney (the newest member of the BLRCs Mawhinney dynasty), Nicole Huang and Rebecca Roth have come into the Womens team to add to the firepower that veterans Chelsea Rogers, Emily Van Gulik, Natasha Lalonde & Aphra Taylor bring every Saturday! Theres a lot to look forward to this season!
The game was a bit of a slugfest in the early going with a steady diet of forward crash ball on the menu from both teams. Burnaby Lake was getting the best of the set piece, but Capilano was owning the territory, camped out in the BLRC end for most of the first 25 minutes. The BLRC began to work their way into Caps territory and at 30 minutes Naiobasali took a hard line through the Capilano centres at the 22m and finished next to the posts. Gold made the conversion to go ahead 7-0. Just before the break, Capilano got on the board. Caps had worked their way back down to the BLRC goal and after a series of pick and goes, they punctured the BLRC defensive line for 5 points.7-5 at the half.
Jaidyn Mawhinney finds some space wide. Photo by Zach Lattie
Ten minutes into the 2nd half the BLRC Women added to their lead, with the freshly subbed in Carly Walker picking and going from a metre out. 12-5 for the Blue & White. Capilano responded quickly, their forwards driving the ball into the Burnaby Lake 22m before their outside backs took the ball over the try line, cutting the lead to 12-10. With only 6 minutes to play, Miri Naiobasali took a pass from Madi Gold into the corner for her 2nd try of the afternoon and sealed the deal on a W! Final score BLRC 17 Capilano 10.
A confidence builder for the Blue & White. It had been a few years since the squad had claimed a win vs their rivals. Doing so without the services of their captains Gabby Hindley and Leyhana Van Vugt as well as their sparkplug Rachel Choboter… should have them walking with a swagger until the two squads meet again.
The full game can be seen here though the camera work isnt great: https://youtu.be/5Sxtl9i8SxI
BLRC Premier Reserve 51 Surrey Beavers 15
A true tale of two halves with the Beavers getting after it early and owning the opening stanza, though the BLRC scored first through Fullback Eoin Reddingtons try and conversion. Surrey answered with tries from their #13 and #14 plus a conversion and a penalty kick to take the lead 15-7 with 35 minutes gone but thats where their engine ran out as the BLRC responded with 44 unanswered points over the next 45 minutes. Reddington began the comeback with a 3-pointer to end the first half 15-10.
Captain Tom Menzies with ball in hand. Photo by Zach Lattie
Winger Darren McCrory opened the 2nd half with a try which Reddington converted to give the BLRC back the lead before Dean McMahon made an elusive run from the 22m to make it 22-15. Derick Du Toit blocked a Beavers clearance kick which Trent Shelley returned for a try and Reddington converted. Tom Rafuse was up next and ran one into the corner to go up 34-15. Derick Du Toit had an electric 80m run from a BLRC set piece to go ahead 41-15. Reddington followed it up with a 60m scamper before passing to Mohi Parata for the tally. Wind was making the conversions in the 2nd half a bit hard to come by, blowing the ball off the tee on occasion. Du Toit ended the game with his 2nd try to make the final 51-15.
Some porous defence for a period in the first half but the guys tightened up and turned it around. The team went through the regional preseason schedule undefeated and started off the season with an emphatic win. A few areas that coach Billy Noonan will want to work on, but a solid start.
The full game can be seen here: https://youtu.be/wjjYCBS2Brg
BLRC Premier Men 24 Pacific Pride 35
The Atmospheric River looked to be holding off a while longer as the game kicked off, albeit with short bouts of hard rain. Since the rebirth of the Pacific Pride, the teams have played 3X (one of them with the BLRC representing Van East Rugby) and the BLRC were winless. Two of those games saw the BLRC run out to a big lead only to have the Pride surge back in the final 10 minutes to claim the win. The third saw the Pride take an early lead and the BLRC claw their way back into it before a timekeeping error ended the comeback and the match 9 minutes early. 3 close games that were all fun to watch. This one would be no different.
On Saturday the Pride would strike first and silence the crowds with 2 early tries. Burnaby Lake had dug themselves a hole with a botched lineout, a penalty and a handling error allowing the Pride to set up inside the 22m. The Pride had a lineout at the BLRC 5m line and after the maul was stopped, Flyhalf Max Stewart sliced through a porous BLRC goal line defence for a try, which he converted to put the Rugby Canada Development Academy up 7-0 with just 10 minutes gone. At 21 minutes, the Pride were on the move and found themselves with numbers on the far side of the pitch, the ball moved through the hands of 8-man Elias Hancock to winger Alan Berros just inside the BLRC 22m and he outpaced the cover defence to score. Stewarts conversion put the visitors ahead 14-0.
That try was a bit of a turning point as the BLRC Forwards took over for the next 40 minutes, using the bulk to win the point of contact and create penalties on (I believe) every scrum. The go-forward ball created space for Ezequiel Rossetti and Brian Fitzpatrick to gain territory with their boots and put them in a position to score points. A Pacific Pride penalty gave the BLRC their first scoring opportunity with a 5m lineout which the Pride defended well. The BLRC set up for a series of pick and goes and it was scrum-half Ezequiel Rossetti who saw a gap on the fringe of the ruck which he dove through for 5 points. Fitzpatrick made the extras to close the gap 14-7. Just before the half, Ezequiel Rossetti would tie it up with his 2nd try. The BLRC had a scrum 10m from the Pride posts and Rossetti picked off the base of the scrum, dodging a few defenders en-route to the try line. Technically it was Fitzpatricks conversion that tied the game, but you know what I mean. 14-all at the break.
2 minutes into the new half, the home side would take the lead 17-14 when a Pride penalty gave Fitzpatrick the opportunity to add 3 points. The BLRC scrum was in charge all day and was the cause of penalties in 6 straight scrums. After a scrum penalty on the Pride 5m, the BLRC chose scrum once more and the forwards earned a penalty try which made the score 24-14.
Ezequiel Rossetti scores to tie the game. Photo by Zach Lattie
The Pride would start their comeback with 70 minutes gone, Elias Hancock quick tapping a penalty and racing in from about 40m. Stewarts conversion made the score 24-21 for Burnaby Lake. 5 minutes later, Pride centre Ciaran Breen made a break at the halfway point of the field and made it inside the 22m before the BLRC defence caught up to him. I thought he could have scored it himself, but he hit the trailing Zach Pilgrim with a pass allowing the scrumhalf to give their team the lead. Stewarts conversion made it 28-24 for the Pacific Pride. Noah Flesch added another almost immediately, this time Zach Pilgrim the catalyst who broke the line and Flesch finishing. The convert was good to make it 35-24 which was your final.
A game of swings with the Pride controlling the first 20 minutes and posting 14 points, the BLRC controlling 50 minutes, scoring 24 points and finally the Pride owning the final 10 minutes to score 21 points. Some takeaways for Burnaby Lake: The team need to sort out their lineouts. It was their Achilles Heel during the regional pre-season and they gave away at least half a dozen possessions on Saturday with the botched set piece. The scrum was dominant throughout the day. The starting tight 5 of Worden, McCrum, Bharadwaj, Fergus and Soden are all big boys and if they can keep that group healthy, they wont lose many scrums throughout the season. Keeping that group as well as Lucas Albornoz on the field as much as possible will be key going forward. Fitness was an issue. While most of their opposition wont be 5-day-a-week trainers like the Pride, the likes of UBC, UVIC and a few of the Island based teams with many players attached to the Rugby Canada Centre will be close. After physically dominating most of the game, they gave it all back in the final 10 minutes while being too gassed to retreat 10m, falling off tackles, not having enough support for their ball carriers and not re-aligning on defence.
For the Pride, that would be a happy bus trip back. The scrum fell apart for 80 minutes but other than that, their lineouts were crisp, and they executed most attacks cleanly. The pace of their backline means that any missed tackle risks a try scoring opportunity and their support of the ball carrier is best in show. There is some real talent there, though I think most of the players might be better suited towards the 7s game. Players like Elias Hancock and their captain Cody Nhanala are athletic abnormalities with international level skills but might be a little undersized to make an impact in the International XVs game. 7s though absolute killers who I cant wait to watch at BC Place sometime soon!
My choice for Man of the Match from the Pride was the 8-Man Elias Hancock. I was very impressed with his play on both sides of the ball. Unlimited gas tank. Tall, fast and had great hands. Hancock made a 50m break for a try and made lots of tackles while being a nuisance at every breakdown. For the BLRC, Tight-head Prop Bryce Worden went the full 80 minutes and did everything right. He was a big ball carrier and punished quite a few would-be tacklers with a dropped shoulder. Dominant in the scrums would be an understatement as the Pride loosehead going straight back was a foregone conclusion. Counting the penalty try, I believe the Pride had 9 scrum penalties on the day and Worden was a major contributor.
The full game can be seen here: https://youtu.be/PRtmkcGG8VU
Next week sees all the Mens teams travel to UBC while the women have a weekend off.
Big thanks to everyone who made the day possible at BLRC: The set up team, the minis who acted as ball boys & girls, the cooking team led by the OTooles and the Houses, the BBQ ran by the U18 parents and players, Saro Turner and the referee team and to Aaron Takel who helped out in the broadcast tent.
BLRC Top XV