Another challenging Saturday was in order as the Surrey Beavers attempted to play 3 road games in 3 locations. A task that had the coaches and management burning the phone lines for players to fill out the line ups. A rash of injuries after week one of the second half further drained the reserve pool. A truly appreciated gesture was arranged by Vice President Paul Kelly to have the third division game moved to the second division site at Rupert Park in Vancouver. Well done Paul, and good on the Meraloma club for being agreeable and accommodating to the neutral site match.
The only drawback was a 10:00 AM kick off due to previous scheduling. The seconds followed up against the Scribes at 12:45 PM, and the firsts were at Hume Park at 2:45 PM. The club was stretched, with several banged up players taking part, but yet there was rugby to play.
SBAA 3rd Division Men vs Meraloma – Loss 26-5
All the second and third division pool of players were told to be ready for kickoff, as some seconds were required to fill out the thirds roster and to be available as subs. Each man was told to be ready to play 3 or possibly 4 halves of rugby.
A truly rag tag group of thirds took the pitch. Returning from a broken foot, Captain Reid Mathews led veterans like Lance 'Romance' Mathers, 'Crazy' Joe Kubas, Ken 'Grimace' Magtoto and Marshall Farmer with Bryan 'Smarty' Smart at 10 and Robbie Sisson at 12. The wealth of experience was balanced by fresh faces Matt 'Baby Hoss' Eckert, Biran Malak, Manvir Kahlon, Nick Parsons, Doug Dolmans and Brandon Woods. Surrey was on the back foot right off the hop and were defending in their own zone for the first half. The much more drilled and Meraloma side was holding the play, but this remained two fairly matched sides. The 'Lomas managed four tries in the half, two by rucking, picking and offloading and two by their backs making bursts and using fast hands to find the next man up. 26-0 was the half time score. The thirds regrouped and made a couple of changes due to nagging injuries.
The second half was considerably different as the thirds flipped the script and played practically the entire 40 minutes in the Meraloma end. The Vancity boys on defence was showing, and while knocking on the door the Beavs just couldn't manage to make it in the house. Finally, in the last 5 minutes, the crack showed itself and a much worn-down bunch of Kits boys allowed Ryan Mitchell to break through the line and break the Surrey goose egg. Bryan Smart narrowly missed the convert, which ended the game at 26-5. Vancouver shut out Surrey in the first half and the Beavers shut out the Lomas in the second half. The side made note of winning the second half, and had there been a "third" half Surrey certainly would have completed the comeback. All the players were given an hour to recuperate before the second division game.
Tries: Ryan Mitchell(1)
SBAA 2nd Division Men vs Scribes RFC – Loss 39-7
The toll taken in the third division game impacted the seconds, as virtually all the old guys were unable to manage another minute having played the full thirds game with only one week of training, some of the young guys got beat up, and a couple of guys wandered away and didn't come back for the second division game, which was truly disappointing... but yet there was rugby to play
The Scribes jumped on the Beavers early and hard. A fairly knackered Surrey side had 17 players left standing with a third of the line up playing the whole 3rds game and 5 others who played at least a half of the thirds. The first 5 minutes saw Surrey give up a try off a maul from a line out, a dose of our own medicine. The convert brushed the outside of the post. Scribes then had several ruck phases that ground down the defence and resulted in another try. At the midpoint of the half a fracas broke out that resulted in the yellow carding of a Scribe, within 5 minutes a second yellow was pulled out for another Scribe for a high tackle. Surrey had a 2-man advantage for 5-7 minutes and was unable to capitalize on the scoreboard. That cemented the, "you're not having a good day at rugby", moment which was a realization for everyone present. The day was all Scribes from then on out, as they finished the half with a long penalty kick against the wind, a try on a good long run of play that wasn't converted, and an easier penalty kick. Surrey had a 23-0 hole to climb out of. This bunch of mix'n'match Beavers also didn't have the chemistry that only comes from getting reps and touches as a group.
The second half wasn't much better. The first half trends continued and Scribes maintained the bulk of play and possession. They managed a try off of a pick and go from their 9, which was converted. Vancouver were gifted a try and capped their day by a good running sequence that earned their last major score, the last 2 trys were unconverted for 39 straight points. The Beavs were out of gas, but found enough fuel to close out a rare burst in the final minute to put Aaron 'Cheese' Viola in for a try to break the shut out, he drop-kicked his own conversion for a 39-7 final score. Full credit to Captain Cheese, who continued to rally the boys, very well done to young guns, Matt Eckert aka: 'Hurricane Matt', who used his spin move to evade would be tacklers, Manvir Kahlon and Biran Malak, who with Matt played both full games and remained very effective offensively and most importantly on defence, catching the notice of Beaver coaches present.
The unfortunate happenings of the day included Ty Robertson taking a shoulder injury in the thirds game and Spencer Mitchell who hurt his knee toward the end of regulation in seconds. It is the hope of the club that both players aren't lost to us long term, they are wished a speedy recovery. A few others are nursing various injuries that result in an even shallower player pool to select from.
Tries: Aaron Viola(1)
Convert: Aaron Viola(1)
SBAA 1st Division Men vs United RC – Win 30-15
The second half of a season, with the 8-week break, is essentially a new season of its own. The stretch run for playoff positioning is on and sometimes teams have bolstered their line ups with players who may have been unavailable in the first half, so the competition is stiffer and clubs can be completely different from the first half, as such you never know what to expect.
The United RFC team that took the pitch at venerated old Hume Park, where PoCoMo played regularly until merging with Douglas to form United, was going to be an interesting proposition. The first half season United team was a bit of an enigma, as they seemed unpolished and clunky looking in their play, but no matter where a pass was situated the United backs knocked on very few balls-surprisingly. It was immediately noticeable this might not be the case today, as United opened the score within the first 5 minutes on a very tight sideline call. The first half of the season saw United do almost the exact samething against the Beavers in their October meeting. Before too long United had an opportunity at goal, which they took full advantage of, going up 8-0 before the Beavers were able to break a sweat. At the 20 minute mark the tide noticeably changed and Surrey began to maintain possession and use the ball more effectively. The forwards put together some series of phases that Captain Paul Kelly was the try scoring benefactor of. Brandon 'The Cat' Gatto drilled the easy convert. Now, was this to be the start of a comeback or a flash in the pan. The answer wasn't long off, as another lump of Beaver ball retention, had winger Jamahl Knowles capitalizing with the try, the convert was long and on a difficult angle, uphill, and thus was missed. However, 12-8 was much more agreeable to the Surrey sidelines. The Beavers weren't done yet as a set play, put Clay 'The Beast' Ross in for the third straight unanswered try, with the difficult convert again missed, Surrey took a 17-8 lead into the half.
The second half had a lot of Beaver possession but not a lot of scoring. The Beavers were not closing out scores and were making way too many mistakes. About 20 minutes of play finally saw United score first in the half, with a deep kick that went uncovered by the Beavers. The last runner in the chase sequence had a huge effort evading some inconsistent Surrey tackling. The conversion was good and the 17-15 score got the Beavers attention again, as in the first half the lads pulled it together and held the fort the rest of the way. The forwards again took charge and had a ramble that included some offloads that sprung an easy score for Matt Bose for the final major of the match underneath the posts. Surrey kept the offensive pressure on but continued to make errors. Possession and runs favored the Beavers but the scoreline was still too close for comfort. Soon the pressure on United was too much and they gave away a penalty kick inside their 22, which Gatto stroked through the uprights. At one point, no doubt on some form of cruise control, Surrey turned the ball over and United ran it back putting Surrey in a bad way. Brandon Gatto made a huge chase down tackle and Nick 'Sharpy' Sharp took back the ball while dancing right beside the touchline and dished off to Tyler Johnson, thus saving further damage on the scoreboard. Gatto plunked one more penalty kick from a forced error near the United goal. The final whistle wasn't far off and the 30-15 win was secured.
Kudos to forwards Paul Kelly and John Eadie for their play & leadership in association with backs Brandon Gatto, for his defence and Jamahl Knowles for a solid effort on both sides of the ball. It wasn’t the Beavers best game play but it was enough to get another win and right the ship.
Tries: Paul Kelly(1) Jamahl Knowles(1) Clay Ross(1) Matt Bose(1)
Converts: Brandon Gatto(2)
Penalty Kicks: Brandon Gatto(2)
Just trying to capture the spirit of the thing......