You gotta love BC, we get winter one in seven years, and this was the year we had it. Saturday was the first day of 2019 when people standing in direct sun light could comfortably go without a jacket of any kind, one more sign Spring is giving notice. With Spring sprung and the schedule flipped turned upside down the Beavers should have renewed their Gravol supply.
I speak of, the originally scheduled games for this week were to be home games with 3rds & 2nds at Sullivan against Langley & 1sts away to Abbotsford. VP Paul Kelly planned to play at the Langley field at Crush Crescent and play the 2nds first at 1115, with the 3rds at 1245, so the 1st Division substitutes would have time to make the 1sts warm up and Langley is that much closer to make the drive easier. Cheers to Langley for going along & to Paul for the creative option. Nice....
SBAA 2nd Div Men vs Langley RFC – Loss 46-3
So often in a story there is an effort to foreshadow upcoming events to hint at a future plot twist. With Surrey facing a Langley club that has downsized their program from 1sts & 2nds, to 2nds & 3rds, it was already apparent that the Beavers would be yet again challenged in competition level and player numbers. Surrey had prepared it's 2s & 3s to play a game and a half each, as practice turn outs are still below desired levels. At 1035am it was noticed that the Langley seconds were playing a vigorous game of silly bugger & hitting the pads, while Surrey had 9 starters dressed to go. In the area of pregame prep, Langley was ahead.
The opening kickoff did little to change that. Langley soon had ball in hand and were free running through high arm tackles and a Swiss defense, cheesy & and full of holes. Langley ran in the forwards and ran in the backs. Their work rate & cohesion were on full display, much to the chagrin of the Beavers and their fans. Surrey looked slow and uninterested, being beat all over the park. Langley motored on, even when the Beavs had the ball, the Langley counter rucking was such that they pushed over or poached the ball in Surrey's 3rd or 4th phase, choking off their attack. It didn't help also the pack weights were off with the Beavers being outweighed by 20 pounds per man on average, which made it harder to absorb hit after hit on defense. The Langley scoring was early, often, and balanced, as they scored 10 tries, one every 8 minutes on average - every 8 minutes, and five by forwards and five by backs. Langley either crashed forwards or crashed forwards until an overlap was created and ran wide to a score. Surrey had moments of good rugby, they were few and far between. The Beaver highlight came after Langley was up 15-0 on three unconverted tries and all of which were long exhausting runs of play on defense for Surrey. At this point Brandon Craig stepped up and hit a 35-yard penalty kick that just made it over the crossbar. Langley closed the half with 2 more time consuming, energy consuming tries, for a 25-3 half time margin. Having said the above, all Surrey had to do was buckle down retain some possession, making Langley play tiring defense. The second half was a steady diet of the same as the Beavers were force fed some humble pie. Five more tries were scored in the same form as the first half, hard determined running by Langley and a lack of ball retention, poor tackling, and suspect fitness by Surrey. The Beavers lack of sustained possession forced them into being tacklers and when Surrey got tired the tackling skills deteriorated into useless high arm tackling & selfish attempts at ball ripping that didn't stop or even appear to delay the Langley attack, they ran roughshod over and through the Surrey defense. The only reward for the seconds was going have to play again for the thirds. Final score 56-3, putting it behind us and credit given to a good club, in Langley.
Penalty Kick: Brandon Craig(1)
SBAA 3rd Div Men vs Langley RFC - Loss 60-5
The Thirsty Thirds started their day with a great individual warm up, they had to because 7 of they're starters were playing seconds. Remember the earlier part about foreshadowing, this was more of that. This game was more of the same as the 2nd Division game. Langley came out with 22 fresh players and Surrey cobbled together a line up from 3rd Division players and those Seconds who could still walk and who had the heart and character to want to play more, despite the hyding they had just taken. A keen few stood tall and others took an opportunity to recoup before being available to sub in. Langley came out playing the same game their Seconds and ran the ball in the forwards, who out sized and out worked the Surrey Thirds, with the same effectiveness and the same results. The Beavers allowed 4 tries in the first half on hard, aggressive forward running, with only one being converted. The score at the mandatory break was 22-0, which in retrospect wasn't that bad, all things considered. Two Surrey tries could change things dramatically. The boys weren't out of it by any means.
It didn't take too long for Langley to double down and put in 4 more tries, with the 4th being a penalty try, including the 2 converts the score was becoming insurmountable 49-0. A bit of a scuffle broke out around the penalty try and shortly after, Nate Hutchinson was yellow carded for a high tackle, with minutes Langley also took a yellow card, matching the sides at 14 players. Surrey had its blood up and put together their best run of play. Kyle Johnson made a hard-determined run that evaded several tacklers with jukes and straight arms from over 35 yards out, on his way to the only Surrey try of the day. The convert was missed, 49-5 Langley, but the comeback was on. Within minutes again a Langley player was yellow carded, and Nate Hutchinson reentered the game, giving the Beavs a 15-13-man advantage. This wouldn't manage to amount to anything as Langley would score a converted try, get their 2 players back, and see Surrey sustain another yellow card, this time to Jordan Sousa. Langley would score one last unconverted try, making it 10 in this game also, and a final score of 61-5. A tough heartbreaking loss. 5 Second Division Beavers came off the bench to no avail, which included 7 3rd Division starters that had already played seconds. A tough, tough day all around. It was noted that Andrew Johnson, who has had difficulty finishing games played most of the second & third division games before pulling up for replacement in the second half of the thirds game, had his best day as a Beaver. Good effort, well done, something to build on for him.
Try: Kyle Johnson(1)
SBAA 1st Div Men vs Abbotsford RFC - Loss 36-28
The Surrey First Division intended on setting matters right after an unexpected loss to United the previous week. The Beavers line up included Jamie Beaton who was returning from paternity leave and sinus surgery playing 9 and Ryno Jacobs emerged as the starting 10, bringing his experience and determination. The new look Beavers lined up across from an Abbotsford squad that hadn't stood still over the break and welcomed back an overseas player from the pro ranks of England. It seems many teams have bolstered up for the stretch run.
Abby drew first blood, exciting their fans with a converted try, forcing Surrey to come from behind. The Beavers had a shot at goal miss before Brandon "The Cat" Gatto, hit on his second attempt from 35 yards. Abbotsford answered when they marched back down the park for a 3 pointer of their own from the 30. Abbotsford continued to pressure Surrey and a big break by their pro would result in an unconverted try. The relatively early going had Abby up 15-3 and the Beavs knew they were going to have to stand tall. A Surrey penalty gave a very solid Abbotsford kicker a chance from 40 yards which he nailed. In yet another huge big pile of foreshadowing it was smelling as if kicking would be a huge factor in the game. Surrey began playing to potential with a hard work try scored by David "Burger" Jefferies spinning and hurling his girth across the try line. The convert was missed leaving the tally to stand at 18-8 for Abby. The Abbotsford kicker would show himself to be human after missing a 30 yarder, off to one side. Surrey were on the march and at the Abby 22, when a grubber kick went directly into the hands of an Abbotsford back who began to move the ball out of danger. Several phases later the turnover was a try, again converted. 25-8 Abbotsford. It was finally time to engage Jamie Beaton who went on a physical, athletic, hard run and scored to announce his presence with authority. The convert went wanting. The half-found Surrey narrowing the gap to a 25-13 deficit. The halftime talk centered on secure possession and keeping it simple.
The message was good and the boys picked it up with Beaton scoring from a tap & go penalty after some good hard determined work by Captain Paul "Skipper" Kelly. The successful convert brought the Beavers within sniffing distance at 25-20 for Abby still, with the Beavs on the ascendancy now. Abbotsford had a shot a goal and missed. It was Jamie Beaton again who took of on a 9 "sneak" and after 3 straight arms & a wave to the fullback as he grasped at air in an ill fated tackle attempt. Beats plunked down another try and his natural hat trick of tries, 3 consecutive without interruption or answer. The convert was yet again missed, but the 25-25 score told both teams the last 10 minutes weren't going to be cake walk. Abbotsford weren't done either as they finally broke Beaton's grip on the game and scored a disputed try, where it is believed that the runner stepped out on the Abbotsford side line. The Abbotsford touch judge neither had a flag in hand or was anywhere near the play to see the apparently obvious step into touch. This emphasized the poor field line marking, when earlier in the game a Surrey player was called out of bounds by the referee when he was in fact a meter from the line. In that case the Surrey touch judge was behind the play. The convert was missed, 30-25 Abby. Abbotsford would build back into Beaver territory and would make a penalty kick that Surrey would give away. A subsequent Beaver kick would miss. An Abby player was yellow carded for a high tackle and Surrey would have a man advantage with time running out. Beaton would hit in a penalty kick and make the scoreboard sit at 33-28 for Abbotsford, but not insurmountable given that a converted try would be enough to win. The Abby kicker got one more chance and made good on it, to make a within reach 5 points into a harder 8 point, or 2 score lead. 36-28 would be how it ended with Surrey having no shame in the tight loss, which doesn't mean the 1sts liked it one bit. Truly a hard-fought loss, considering Surrey left 12 points in kicks on the table, more than enough to win. Considering Abbotsford left 10 points up for grabs, it could have been a very different game in a couple of ways.
It was noted, on one occasion the Surrey hooker had ball in hand at a line out and no one was savvy enough to make a play before someone realized it was actually Abby ball. Lost opportunity. In the second half the Beavers kicked a ball from hand, it was touched by an Abby player, the Surrey player picked up the ball and immediately let it go to the ground and quit playing, thinking he was offside. A second opportunity lost by not playing the whistle. When things are going well a team can afford to overlook such events. When things aren't going well, these situations point to times when the players are 'sleeping' and not got their heads fully in the game, even to the extent of simply playing the whistle, a basic requirement at every level. Given the above, the 1sts will be fine. They have the personnel to correct the ship and the desire and drive to do so.
On the entire day the difference wasn't in the Xs & Os, but in effort and attitude, things you can't really coach and need to be set in the team identity & team culture. Mental errors such as, not catching opposition sleeping and quitting before the whistle, need to be corrected going forward and can be addressed as a club. We need to do a gut check and will ourselves through the wall of adversity we now face.
Tries: David Jefferies(1) Jamie Beaton(3)
Converts: Brandon Gatto(1)
Penalty Kicks: Brandon Gatto(1) Jamie Beaton(1)
Just trying to capture the spirit of the thing.......