Once again SBAA’s Director of Rugby Kevin Taylor reminded us all on Thursday night that, “We play in the BC Rugby Union and not the Surrey Rugby Union, so we gotta play all over BC.” This last Saturday a perfect example, with the club scheduled to be in Port Alberni and Squamish at the same time. So, the 1sts took the BC Navy to The Rock and the 3rds cruised the Sea to Sky to play Squamish RFC in Whistler. There should be a BCRU travel miles program.
SBAA 3rd Division v Squamish Rugby Club – Loss 45-3
The big 3s arrived at Whistler High School sporadically, but 30 mins before kick off the last three players walked into the park, to the relief of all. We had 15 players and Bryan ‘Smarty” Smart. The game started with a high sense of apprehension as everyone knew that high powered Squamish was, and has been for some time, tearing new orifices all over our league and have put a hurting on the Thirsty Thirds as recent as last season 66-0, and 49-12 at SH Park.
Early in the game it was obvious that Squamish had cracks in their armour as the 9-10 combo made early errors that evened out the play and demonstrated Squamish wasn't invincible. The majority of the play had the mighty Beaver machine moving forward and maintaining the play in the offensive zone. Relatively early on, Captain Jordan “Thumper” Sousa slotted a penalty for a Surrey lead, 3-0. Squamish made four incursions into Beaver territory and each time Surrey took penalties 30-35 yards in front of the posts and each time a confident Squamish team kicked for touch, and each time the Beavs beat back the invaders at the gate and drove the snakes out of the defensive zone. Squamish had a 5 metre scrum on their goal line after a Beaver knock on and someone from Squamish asked the referee how much time was left in the half, he looked at his watch and replied that there was "3 minutes left". Squamish won their ball and managed to spin it to their 13, a former rugby league pro in England, and for the first time all day he made a darting, in your face run that broke down field and the jailbreak was on. Approximately 95 yards later, as the field appeared to be short and narrow, the outside center passed off, due to exertion, to a second rower and the home team was on the board. After the conversion they led 7-3 at the half. Up to that moment the Beaver backs had stuffed him with huge tackling that caused the usually firm gripped veteran to spill four balls in the half from the solid contact he was taking. To that point he was contained and Beaver Rugby was in his kitchen.
It could be seen that this was the hardest half of rugby that Squamish had seen in some time as they all walked or limped back to their huddle. Surrey also lived up to the reputation of hard play by forcing three Axemen off the pitch with various injuries, including the loud mouth prop forward who verbally called out the mostly junior forward pack at home last season while the Axemen were putting up 49 points on the less-experienced 2017 3rd Division squad. The second half was more of the same with the Beavs on offensive ground, however, after 40 mins of above expectation play the Surrey cracks showed and when the Beavers made a mistake the punishment was a 5 pointer. Fortunately they only made 6 errors in the latter half once fatigue and no substitutions factored in. The final score was 45-3, with the enemy having made 5 of 7 converts. Immediately after the game the referee made the point that Surrey played very well on the day and the score wasn't representative of the game at all, it was too bad, how it went. The drink up was hosted at Fitzsimmons Pub in Whistler Village, a location so small the local squad had to draw straws to attend as not to exceed the fire code limit of 35 patrons. The Squamish Captain, their professional 13, was practically speechless when mentally recalling the pummelling he took from Jordan Sousa, Davis “NOT Marshall Catanio”, Catanio, Greg ‘The Truth” Huang and Derek “Crunch” Halicki, who were in his face all day. The Axemen chose Sousa & Adam “South” van Niekerk, as men of the match, the Beaver selector Bryan Smart chose our own Clayton "TQ" Andrews, who did find the right park the first time this week, as "Dick of the Day" for charging down a penalty kick... To round out the 4 man boat race the Captains were further enlisted, and as such Jordan Sousa had 2 of the 4 spots. As Jordan was driving and on medication, Marshall “Old McDonald” Farmer stood in and completed the first and last legs of the victorious boat race. Once his last glass hit the table, Marshall immediately hit the bathroom and gave it all back, but we still won.
Penalty Kick: Jordan Sousa(1)
SBAA 1st Division v Port Alberni Black Sheep – Win 34-24
Meanwhile, at the pulp capital of Canada - Port Alberni and yet again as the space time continuum remains intact the writer has to rely on the accounts of the match as provided ‘on the record’ by Kevin Taylor and one or two highly confidential sources that have come forward on the condition of anonymity.
An early morning meant for a rather quiet bus ride from the ferry to the rugby field. However as soon as the boys landed it was straight to business. The bus seemed to be driving at scenic cruising speed so the boys only had a short time to get changed, strapped, and mentally ready for the match. It’s always a challenge playing on the road and getting your feet underneath you, but the boys knew the Black Sheep were going to be coming flying out the gates.
The Beavers got off to a great start on the road, going up 3-0 shortly after the starting kick off. But following some shifty possession Alberni found themselves quickly deep in the Beavers red zone. The Black Sheep were a big physical pack and they came crashing up the field, slowly pounding up the ball. Following a line out and some phase play the home team secured some space out wide and through the arms the Sheep scored in the corner.
It was up to the pack to lead the charge in this match, with key positional players in the backline unavailable for the travel on Saturday the Beavs were left heavily depending on some of their younger less-experienced club players in the back line. It was a great experience for the young players who are getting better and better playing in high level Division 1 games. All the young guns really had to step up on Saturday, and they all did. But still, the main attack on offense was focused through the scrum. The forwards felt confident that they could beat Alberni at their own game, and grind them out in the pack. This made for a fantastic grudge match for about 60 minutes, with both teams taking big runs at each other trying to break through the line. The offside line was hotly contested as both teams on defense came hard up trying to cut down big running plays and attempting to poach ball with any space they were given. The weather packed a punch too, it started off beautiful, but soon after the match started a slight drizzle turned into an all-out down pour. The mood was well set in Alberni.
The 1sts were getting reacquainted with one time Beaver Bob Brown. This stroll down memory lane was cut short after 7 minutes for loose head David “Burger” Jefferys who had a hideous looking 10 stitch gash on his prominent eyebrow, 3 of which were inside. The cause of this maiming was a how-do-you-do from the elbow of the fore-mentioned Mr. Brown. 10 stitches later ‘Burger’ was back in time to grab a pint and cheeseburger at the post-match host up. Nolan Spalek the Beavers only front row sub on the day came into the match and played a big part with keeping the game plan in check, the Beavers still formidable in the pack.
Exchanges of scores kept the game very close in the 1st half but the Beavers held the edge. Brandon Gatto’s foot just like in week 1 kept the Beavers in the lead, as he claimed 10 points in the 1st half. In the forward pack the performance of Andrew McIntyre, at second row, who had a fire in his belly after being subbed out of the cake walk last week, was notable. Andy responded with two tries and, "He was a stud" commented Taylor upon interview. Kevin was very quick to add that the play up front was absolutely not a one man show as each scrummer made a strong contribution.
In the 2nd half the action was relatively the same, and the Beavers looked to weather the storm and continued to play hard rugby. Again, both teams exchanged blows and when a soft spot was found in the defensive line the team with the ball would take full advantage. The Beavers rolled in a few more subs from their short bench in the 65th minute of the match trying to keep the tempo of play high. 2 individual scores first by McIntyre, and then by Iain Small just past the halfway mark of the 2nd half gave the Beavers some well needed breathing room on the score board. The Black Sheep had missed a chip shot for points early on in the 2nd half which had the Beavers leading now by 17 for a short period of time. However the Black Sheep were not done yet, and stayed on the attack. The home team kept working hard to get a score and get back in the match. Again, finding some lapses on defense after countless phase play the former Beaver player Bob Brown ran a score in for the home side. With about 5 minutes left the Beavers held onto a slim 10 point lead. The Beavs stayed stiff on defense in the final 5 minutes of the match, and Alberni was looking hungry to score, but time was not on their side. Another road victory for the Beavers, the boys had to dig deep into their player depth-chart and still got a positive result. Well done boys!!
Port Alberni is always one of the finest places to play rugby in BC with top of the line facilities and always a fantastic host up. Thanks again for the excellent game and hospitality Black Sheep. The travelers following the host up loaded up on the Vancouver Island Bus Company charter having cleaned up after a 34-24 win.
Tries: Andrew McIntyre(2), Matthaus Smith(1), Clay Ross(1)
Converts: Brandon Gatto(4)
Penalty Kick: Brandon Gatto(2)
This Saturday all 3 men’s squads are in action not surprisingly against 3 different clubs. Beavers Div 1 and Div 2 are at home hosting Burnaby RFC and Abbotsford RFC. The Thirsty Thirds hit the road once again to take on the Kats!