On a weekend without the usual bye, the Beavers were forced to put up three teams, for the second of four times this half, however it couldn't be that easy as the Firsts were home to Abbotsford RFC, the Seconds were home to the Burnaby Buffaloes, while the Thirsty Thirds had to again travel alone to Vancouver to knock about with Kats RFC. I suppose it’s true what they say variety is the spice of life. The week of training was highlighted by a brief return to 20 degree temperatures; the week was contrasted by a less than hopeful turn out with 3 games on the schedule.
All that had to be sorted out was who was available for selection. Surrey was faced with a number of challenges as players from the key Seconds/Thirds demographic had prior commitments, or injuries however the club was happy to have some quality returnees who will certainly bolster club numbers down the road.
SBAA 3rd Division Men vs Kats RFC Loss 66-7
There are days that build character, there are days that test character, and there are days that expose character. By that definition The Tre's arrived at Balaclava Park to take on a Kats side that was flexing some muscle in the Mainland 3rd Division table, and the Beavers present built significant character in the track meet thrashing they took. Arrival on the day found a very organized Vancouver club with 20-25 players. Their warm up looked like an inter squad game. Surrey on the other hand was going to be math challenged once again. Previously the 3rds went to Squamish with 15 warm bodies, this trip of far less distance had 14 Beavers making it to the Kitsilano pitch, including Bryan Smart replacing injured Jordan Sousa at 10. The 3rds leadership group approached our foes and challenged them to a round of 14s. Kats graciously declined the opportunity & offered up a winger to make up numbers. To bolster things Kats sent over a second rower from The Rowers, who was just there to watch, or so went HIS best laid plans. Right from the hop the well drilled home team started to run against the augmented visitors. They played fast & loose with quick rucks, hard runs, and really good pass & support rambles, exactly the style of game as the IRB has dictated in the laws in recent times. Kats were keen ruckers having used their strong counter ruck & poach tactics. Surrey would continue its woes of driving down field into the enemy red zone only to turn over the ball on a poach, which resulted in a significant counter attack. More than once a likely try was negated by a 'green' knock on. The Beavs continued to battle and pick up the gauntlet on defence with some excellent, hard, big tackles, no matter how hard the boys stood up, it wasn't going to be enough on this day. As experienced in Squamish, Surrey played a respectable 37 minutes, with the score being a 24-7 deficit. Then with the last play of half the Kats managed a try & conversion.
31-7 at half, which included at least 2 Kits’ knock-ons, that weren't called and that had also resulted in tries. A Surrey try was called back from Darian Archer on an alleged and doubtful knock on as he scored, so no luck going the Beavs way. The lone Beaver try was put down by Ken 'Grimace' Magtoto who has been a stand out at 8 the last two weeks. The resulting convert was poked through from a tough angle by Nate Hutchinson at 9. The centres, Robbie 'Sissi' Sisson & Derrek Halicki, hit hard on offence & defence. Captain Jason Leigh led a group that just couldn't hang with what Kats were perpetrating. The 3rds eventually broke, allowing 6 tries in the second half, all but one being converted. An already long day was made that much longer by the dominant play of the hosts.
Tries: Ken Magtoto(1)
Converts: Nate Hutchinson(1)
SBAA 2nd Division Men vs Burnaby Lake RFC Win 43-12
As the 3rds were in the Big Smoke, your reporter is relying on accounts from the obviously biased Surrey Beaver staff, players, and administrators. Thus, the job of describing the events takes on the glasses of the viewer. Not that that has ever happened before. I digress.
The 2nds had a steady veteran laden line up with 13 of the 15 being seasoned combatants and 2 young up & comers who have graduated from the U-19 program in the form of Quintan Morley & Spencer Mitchell. Surrey came out aggressive and dominated the early going. The opposition pack was given all they could handle. With good ball possession came the back attack that sent feelers into the visiting backfield to suss the weak spots. Eventually all the weaknesses were identified and taken to task, resulting in 6 tries total (2 by backs & 4 by forwards). The play in the first half had Surrey on the front foot in Buffalo territory. At the half Burnaby appeared to make a few adjustments and came out battling. The Deuces withstood the Burnaby efforts with hard defence for the first 25 minutes of the second half, before overcoming the push back and returning to form for the remaining 15 minutes. At no time in the half was the result in question, however the visitors were buoyed by their ability to score 2 tries. In the end Burnaby had far too little, far too late and were rolled over 43-12 at the full time whistle. In the strong Beaver pack Joey Murphy had 2 tries with his brother-from-another-mother Ryan Mitchell touching down once. Cam McMurchy-Barber also put down a 5 pointer. In the back action Brandon 'El Gatto' maintained his fine showing this season with an early penalty kick that first established a 2 score lead after converting Murphy's first major. Brandon later scored a try himself from the 10 position with a total of 5 of 6 converts. Returnee Riley Nagy, the other back try scorer, and Nick Sharp were singled out as being standouts in the back field. It was noted that the backs, to a man, were all hard as nails on defence, holding their lines and buffaloing the Buffaloes. Giuseppe Lagrutta was again a leading force in the pack, but without the fortune to put points on the board himself.
Tries: Joey Murphy(2), Cam McMurchy-Barber(1), Riley Nagy(1), Ryan Mitchell(1), Brandon Gatto(1)
Converts: Brandon Gatto(5)
Penalty Kicks: Brandon Gatto(1)
SBAA 1st Division Men vs Abbotsford RFC Win 45-24
The undefeated Aces found home cooking to be comfort food as they had their first rematch with Abbotsford, home at Sullivan Park. Having won a close, tight match in the first game of the year Surrey was looking to double down, with 1sts Head Coach Dave Tate stating anything less than a 20 point win should be considered a failure.
The Firsts fired up, knowing what they would be in for facing an Abbotsford side that had to still be smarting from the previous loss, when Surrey ground out the last 5 minutes with a strategic pick & pound attack that had the Abby pack frustrated to the point of throwing themselves at the 8 man ruck to no effect. In this rivalry memories are long.
The forward play was as advertised, with each side winning their own set pieces and battling hard in the trenches. Captain Paul Kelly was leading the forwards with determined picks that went into some fierce defence. As a hard assed trio, the back row which included Kelly, with John 'Have I Got A Deal For You' Eadie and Iain 'I'm Not Too' Small matched the aggression & determination of the opposite back row who they knew only too well, with Eadie & Small touching down major scores. Matt Bose, at second row, was noted to have his usually steady game performing consistently solid on offence and defence. Nolan Spalek, who was in for the recently sewn up David Jefferys, suffered a similar fate with a gash on his brow. If that isn't the new poster for irony, the word would be meaningless. Spalek was replaced by veteran Nick 'The Bruce’ who had given way in overall pack weight, but made up for it with his gritty play, getting in the heads of the opposition, especially in this derby. Andrew McIntyre repeated his performance from last week again scoring 2 tries, and just being a menace on attack around the pitch. Now that is consistency. Hard running and hard headed prop forward Chris Atkinson rounded out the tries from the scrum.
Though the forwards scored the majority of the tries on the day, the difference was the mismatch in the backfield as 3 of the best overall athletes in the league Jamie Beaton, Clay Ross, and Nathaniel Silva couldn't be denied. Beaton was on a mission with extremely hard physical play that threatened to hospitalize opposing backs, and that was just when he had the ball. On defence the 'human torpedo' had Abby with their heads up and eyes open, making sure they knew where Beats was at all times. Beaton led the side with points in the match with a try, 2 converts, and 2 penalty kicks for 15 points, one third of Beaver production. In that same vein, Jamie's 'partner in prime', Clay Ross was yet again a monster with his game of bashing runs on offence & just plain bashing on defence. The combination of Beaton & Ross must terrify every back in the league, and many of the forwards as well. What's worse than a two headed monster? A three headed monster, that saw Nathaniel Silva rounding out the inside three. Those around the club have seen Silva, also a hard runner, with the ability to make the Abby backs miss. Nathaniel was able to use his thoroughbred speed to break the line and create opportunities all over the park and he was paid off with a try of his own. Silva matched Beaton & Ross in their strong defensive play, dishing out some solid contact of his own.
The 45-24 final score gave Coach Tate his validation, and then some. The 21 point margin of victory has to have a confident bunch of 1sts looking forward to their next challenge following the bye week.
Tries: Chris Atkinson(1), Andrew McIntyre(2), John Eadie(1), Iain Small(1), Jamie Beaton(1), Nathaniel Silva(1)
Converts: Jamie Beaton(2)
Penalty Kicks: Jamie Beaton(2)
In the immortal words of Dickie Dunn,
Just trying to capture the spirit of the thing..........