Saturday, November 17 saw yet another BC Rugby rarity as a 3 team club played all 3 sides against another 3 team club at a single location, as was Beavers v Sharks 2; The Sequel. The alumni can recall in the late 1970s and the most part of the 1980s (before Premier) when every club had 3 sides. Those were heady times indeed, in the early 80s rugby fashion was the rage with everyone having rugby pants & shorts, but only a few having authentic game used gear, to tell the hard cores from the rugby posers.
As anyone with long term memory will tell you, last Saturday was a gorgeous day weather-wise, cold in the morning, very nice at midday and again chilly in the late afternoon, but always brilliantly sunny. This day would be the truest expression of rugby supremacy in this version of The Battle of Surrey and what a battle it promised to be. A large group of Beaver athletic supporters made the trip to South Surrey Athletic Park for the festivities.
SBAA 3rd Division Men vs Bayside RFC – Win 27-24
The sub-optimal player turn out at training had the Beaver coaches & Vice President making frantic and furious phone calls Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday just to find eligible players who weren't injured or suspended.
The last 3rd Div game ended in 2 Surrey red cards that resulted in suspensions, Darien Archer (2 yellow card, automatic red, 1 game suspension) and Clayton "TQ" Andrews (aka- "Little Ball of Anger") (Straight red card for throwing a punch when standing up for a teammate, 6 game suspension). This was going to be a challenge. The game started with the opening kick off, as all games do. The home team called out a bunch of SOBs(Semiahmoo Old Boys) to meet the Beaver young ones. The early going was literally a feeling out process for the visitors as their 8, 9, 10 combo had not worked together until warm up. Winger Davis Cantonio volunteered to help out at flanker and Captain Jordan Sousa led a full roster of honest to goodness 3rd division players onto the still frosty pitch. The playing of the game found the two sides well matched and the scoring was back and forth. The Beavers would be first to answer the bell with a solid rucking try capped off with the grounding by prop forward Jason Leigh. The Sharks came right back with a try of their own after a strong run by the backs that was highlighted by some sub-optimal tackling by Surrey. Bayside made their conversion and the difference was 2 points. Surrey was not to be counted out just yet when 13 Justin Ralph broke through in the centres, which he and Robbie Sisson were pounding all day, and put down a try between the posts. The kick by fullback Nate Hutchinson gave the boys a 5 point lead to deal with, but no time to rest. Again the Sharks broke out a big run sequence that the Beavers also couldn't stop. The missed Bayside convert put the 2 sides at 12s. The tie was apt for the play to that point. The southsiders broke the cycle and scored the next try shortly before half and failed to convert. 17-12 at half time promised another solid 40 minutes of 3rd division rugby. The second half was a see-saw for the first 20 minutes with a good rate of play by 2 evenly matched teams that went from goal to goal with no one breaking through. John Eadie came on at wing for the Thirds who had no subs on this day. This move was quick to pay dividends when Eadie was the benefactor of some hard center play and broke inside for a 25 yard scamper to pay dirt in goal. The convert put Surrey up by 2 with 15 minutes to go. Bayside couldn't leave well enough alone and ran and rucked down the park for the 7th try of the match. It appeared bonus points were to be awarded in the standings as well. The Sharks made their convert and took back the lead in this bi-polar conflict, 24-19 for Bayside. One of the things that ages rugby coaches prematurely is Tight 5 forwards standing where our centres should be, the obvious mismatch was terrifying. Surrey made possession of the ball and began to spin it wide, right at the forementioned forwards, who skillfully and unselfishly passed the ball to find hooker Sandeep Sekhon on the wing. Sandeep beat his man back to the inside and fought off a tackle for the 8th try and 7th lead change of the match. Many people on the sidelines commented how good the rugby was from these teams. The convert was narrowly missed and the score was 24-24 with 5 minutes to go. If the trend was to hold true Bayside was in line to score next. Surrey held the Sharks in their own end with tough defence and sure handed offence, forcing Bayside to take a penalty in front of their posts. Captain Jordan Sousa wisely and calmly asked the referee for score and time. He elected to go for goal and Nate Hutchinson stepped up and made the chip shot for the 27-24 lead, which was the 8th and FINAL lead change. The Thirsty Thirds were able to run out the clock and win their first game of the season. All the Beavers faithful present were happy to see the 3rds get off the 'schnide'.
Tries: Jason Leigh(1) Justin Ralph(1) John Eadie(1) Sandeep Sekhon(1)
Converts: Nate Hutchinson(2)
Penalty Kicks: Nate Hutchinson(1)
SBAA 2nd Division Men vs Bayside RFC – Loss 24-17
The second division came out of the gate to match their opponents, it wasn't hard to see that this game was going to be as evenly paired as the previous game. Surrey was able to take an early advantage when 10 Brandon 'The Cat' Gatto popped in a penalty kick in the first 5 minutes. This success was not to be too long lived as Bayside answered with a converted try from a sudden break out against the flow of play. The Sharks smelled blood and frenzied their attack. Their reward was yet another try from a wide run with very limited Beaver defensive efforts. The missed kick found the score at 12-3 with a trend in the wrong direction. Much to Surrey's dismay the Shark attack kept coming, after giving up a third unanswered try that the Beavers couldn't contain in defensive coverage again.
Finally the 2nds woke up, realized they were in a rugby game, gave their collective heads a shake, and started playing much better. Soon thereafter the boys began to claw their way back and not have this get away from them. Cam McMurchy-Barber was the recipient of some tight offloads among the forwards and rambled in a try to break the Bayside scoring streak. Gatto nailed the convert. 17-10 Bayside. In a relatively short time later, up and comer Spenser Mitchell, was the recipient of some good handing among the backs when he broke through for Surrey's second consecutive try. Gatto drilled the convert to even the score at 17-17. Bayside was clearly at odds and began some activities of an extracurricular nature, which got Beaver blood boiling. The half time whistle gave both teams a chance to collect themselves and regain focus. The back and forth manner of this game, once again, was appreciated by the spectators. The second half was as advertised in the first. The deadlock was on and both teams were giving it 100% (caution; sports cliché activation). Well into the half the Sharks, with ball in hand, made a series of offloads on route to the only major of the half. The convert gave Bayside a 24-17 cushion. Surrey needed a converted try and another score to pull it out with 10 minutes left. The Sharks were able to close the door on the Beaver attack and Surrey was shut out in the second half, leaving the final score as above. A very tough loss for the Seconds, especially in a game that they were always in.
Tries: Cam McMurchy-Barber(1) Spencer Mitchell(1)
Converts: Brandon Gatto(2)
Penalties: Brandon Gatto(1)
SBAA 1st Division Men vs Bayside RFC - Win 38-19
In the lexicon of sports clichés the term, 'renewal of hostilities', is the most apt description of this rematch in the back side of the back to back, home and home 2 game stint. After the tough loss at home 2 weeks ago on Beaver Field at Sullivan Heights, Surrey was eager to prove they deserved a better result. The 25-11 loss stung the, to that point undefeated, Beaver Firsts.
Rewind to last game......
2 weeks ago both teams rested several starters in the first half with Bayside bringing everyone on for the second half push, while Surrey remained with the bulk of it starters. The in-game mood was amplified and the second half became testy.
There was to be no feeling out process, as that formality had been taken care of previously. Both sides started what appeared to be their most competitive line ups with all starters essentially in place. Once again spectators knew this was a game played at another level just by the sound of the body contact on the pitch, one could hear the extra effort given in every tackle by the specific slapping and/or thudding sounds. Bayside came out flying with a relatively early try that fired up the home supporters and gave the Sharks confidence they could carry on from last game. (There is nothing worse than a confident flying shark. #Sharknado.) They kept right on coming and in relatively short order scored another try. The successful convert put the Beavers in a 14-0 hurtlocker with Bayside completely on the front foot.
Finally Surrey would begin to get their act together and the next score was put down by Iain Small on a short bit of forward play, and the comeback was on. The Beaver up tick was in full stride when Nathaniel Silva made a cutting run, in-around-and through the Shark backs to score a try of his own. This too was not to stand for long, when after some intense forward play prop David Jefferies heaved his hairy girth onto the in goal area for the go ahead score, which completed the come back to this point. Half time found the Beavers up 17-14 and definitely now carrying the play with 3 unanswered tries to close the half. The Shark's athletic supporters were silent. At the start of the second half the tension was palpable. After not too long, Nathaniel Silva stepped up for a penalty kick, but he was denied. The Sharks it seemed had not been fully subdued and made a multiple offload run that brought them into the 19-17 lead when they capped off the try. Their convert was missed and the third lead change was complete. Almost immediately Surrey began banging back and pressuring Bayside back to their own goal line where they made a stern stand, rarely letting the Beavers up to the gain line. The Sharks were holding under pressure until finally on their goal line a flat pass was slapped down. The referee quick to show a yellow card and awarded Surrey a penalty try for the fourth lead change. From this point the Firsts battled to extend the slight 24-19 lead they held. Silva scored his second try after some great movement with the ball, bookending one from the first half, and converted it. 31-19 Surrey. The icing on the cake would be Iain Small's second try and a first try/last try bookend as well, all starting from some great defensive pressure. Silva finished the math after converting Small's 5 pointer. 38-19 for the Beavers. The game remained tough and hard all the way through. Scrum half Jamie Beaton, took some hard tackles, with the second of which driving him from the game. Credit to Skipper Paul Kelly for his leadership and consistent hard play. Credit also to John Eadie and Iain Smart for their examples of determination, performance, and hard work which sets the standard for other players in games and practices. The Surrey backs Beaton, Silva, Ross and Reid also had sensational games offensively and defensively. Winger Riley Johnson stepped up massively defensively and also had some powerful runs out wide.
Tries: Iain Small(2) Nathaniel Silva(2) David Jeffries(1) Penalty Try(1)
Converts: Jamie Beaton (2) Nathanial Silva (2)
This was an awesome day of rugby, old school style. All 3 games were evenly matched, both clubs were evenly matched.
The Third Division game had 8 lead changes with the last score being the winner, 27-24 for Surrey.
The Second Division game had 4 lead changes, was tied at the half, and only one try & convert were scored in the second half and the last score being the winner, 24-17 Bayside.
The First Division also had 4 lead changes and a penalty try was the winning score, 38-19 Surrey.
Just trying to capture the spirit of the thing.......