With the 2nds and 1sts both in their respective BC semifinals, the anticipation and expectation were high. The 2nds had a date at Crush Crescent with Langley RC and the 1sts were going to be seeing Abbotsford RFC at home, yet again. The unpredictable spring weather teased us, fooled us, and pleased us.
Mother Nature gave us a beautiful sunny morning, which turned into a wind and rain storm out in the valley, and finally a return to sunny skies for the 1sts, though breezy and chilly. The First division had recently beat Abby at home by a narrow 3 points and the Second division had been pummelled by Langley in their last meeting, both sides would be challenged as the winners would earn a spot in the BC Final the following week.
SBAA 2nd Div Men vs Langley RC - Loss 27-15
As mentioned, the early morning sunny skies gave way to a ferry stopping wind storm that would squeeze all the storm clouds up against the Golden Ears, until they blew back across the valley and nailed the site a Crush Crescent, much to the chagrin of the under dressed patrons. When the match opened it was apparent that this wasn't going to be the track meet Langley previously inflicted on the Beavers. Langley was first to score after several minutes in the trenches in the middle of the park. Their forwards-maintained ball retention for several phases before going wide to the backs who finished in the corner. The convert was against the wind, uphill, and on a steep angle. With all that going for it - no wonder it was missed, 5-0 Langley. Surrey came back and drove down the field until Langley was observed making an illegal high tackle. The following penalty kick from 30 meters, right in front of the sticks, was pumped through by Brandon "The Cat" Gatto to lessen the margin, 5-3 Langley. The story of the game was to be In the pack, as which ever unit was going to be able to inflict their will would prevail. The bulk of the play was between the 22s. It would soon be Surrey's turn to be undisciplined and take a penalty within kicking range. The matter would wind up mute, as the Langley kicker wasn't even close. Relatively soon after receiving the 22 drop out the Beavers were on the penalty train. Langley was capitalizing by eating up ground when a run with some passes and off loads put them in for another major. The convert was very short and crooked, 10-3 for Langley at the half time whistle.
In the second half both teams realized that one of the them would have 40 minutes left in their season and neither wanted that to be them. Langley would again open the scoring for the second half as they did in the first half. The home team had a string of bashing runs, the only time they had been able to open up their game plan, and they finished with a try that was yet again unconverted. 15-3 for Langley. Surrey was not going to be outdone and ground out a series of penalties and rucks to power in a try just as Langley had done at the end of the first half. The identity of the try scorer was lost in the confusion and excitement and in reality, should be credited a forwards try, as each player took part in the success. Gatto made the kick and the Beavers were within reach at 15-10 for Langley. The Beavers defended mightily and made hard tackle after hard tackle. Despite that Langley would drive a line out that was close to the Surrey goal line. The effective maul and some hard rucks put them over again. This try would also go unconverted, it was 20-10 for Langley with approximately 10 minutes left. The Beavers knew it was now or never as they bashed back up the hill to run a penalty where relative new comer and rookie Matt Eckert found a soft spot between 2 defenders and carried them both into goal as he plunked down his try. It was now 20-15 for Langley with 4-5 minutes left and Surrey with momentum. A converted try for the Beavs, would give them the lead for the first time. A short time later Langley found themselves with ball in hand when they would work it down field and run it wide for the final try of the day, disappointing the Beaver faithful. The Langley convert was good and their only successful kick of any kind. The final score was 27-15 for Langley but should have been much closer. It was effectively a one score game all day, except for the last 5 minutes. Immediately after the handshakes were completed the rugby gods opened the heavens with a thunder and lightning microburst over the park. The inference was that they were also unhappy with the result.
Tries: Forwards(1) Matt Eckert(1)
Converts: Brandon Gatto(1)
Penalties: Brandon Gatto(1)
SBAA 1st Div Men vs Abbotsford RFC - Loss 32-28
It wasn't that long ago that Abbotsford came to Sullivan and went home unfulfilled, losing 29-26 to the Surrey Firsts. It was hoped by everyone associated with The Beavers that a similar fate would befall them this day. If the early going was to be any indication this was going to be hard battering contest. Surrey took an early penalty in their own end about 25 meters out and to the left a bit. Abbotsford shanked the kick, ultimately no harm done. Not long after that Abby made a 60-meter burst against the run of play after Surrey had maintained good possession. The resulting try put Surrey on the back foot and Abbotsford up on the scoreboard, fortunately the convert was wanting. 5-0 Abby. The next big Abbotsford move would have Surrey in disbelief as Abby took handle of the ball and found an excursion through the gain line, like Alice through the Lookingglass, an offload later, and a grubber that was recovered in the end zone gave the visitors another try by extraordinary means, this time the convert was good and now 12-0 for Abbotsford. As if the Beavers had had enough of that Clay "Beast" Ross took the ball as only he can and hammered a tackler that fell 5 meters backwards, Ross then ran around the opposing fullback and sprinted to the line to put down the reply. Ryno Jacobs would pop in the uncomplicated convert, 12-7 for Abby still, but within a score. Recently returned outside centre Nathaniel Silva picked off an errant pass near his own 22 line and ran it back to the opposing 22, with back up from Tyler "McConnaughy" Johnson. This advance ended with a Surrey turnover on a penalty, but gave the Beaver fans a moment to get excited about. This would come to fruition a few minutes later Surrey would run a series of ruck phases and Iain Small would find the goal area for a second consecutive Beav try. The convert was again successful, and the promise was fulfilled with a 14-12 Surrey lead. All was now well, for a moment, and the moment was gone. A high tackle in their own end allowed the Beavers to give Abby the advantage of a late penalty kick which fell true. 15-14 for Abby at half time.
One point between these teams, was as good as a coin flip.
The second half started well for Surrey when a run by the backs was well supported, after a couple of passes and off loads Riley Nagy was about to score when the ball was separated from him by an aggressive tackler and an opportunity evaporated. This seemed to take the air out of the Surrey sails. Soon Abbotsford would compound this error with a hard-running effort by the forwards and backs, which ended in an Abby kick pass to the end zone that missed everyone. The ball was fly hacked by Surrey and bounced off some Abby shins to the arms of the intended target, for a try. The good convert added salt to the wound, 22-14 for Abbotsford. Surrey worked their way back into the Abby end, when they would take a penalty for not wrapping with the arms and the kick from 30 meters was a touch wide. Abbotsford would march back and force Surrey into a penalty from 23 meters on an angle, which was made and was making the Beavers challenge more difficult. In answering back Surrey took to their bread & butter with hard grinding rucking off a penalty. The actual try scorer wasn't obviously identified at the time, but your humble writer suggests a forward group credit because all 8 sacrificed themselves. The convert being made boosted the tally to 25-21 for Abby, but the Beavs were well within striking distance. Surrey built possession and was going in the right direction when a give away was run back down their throats, the slap in the face was completed with the convert. 32-21 for Abbotsford. Time was running short and the Beavers needed 2 majors. The first one was dispatched when Matt Bose scooped the ball from loose play and took off for 20 meters, Robbie Sisson supported fiercely, took the pass when Bose ran out of room and scored it. The Surrey sidelines went crazy and the sound of the happy beaver was heard when the convert was made. The score was 32-28 for Abby with 5-10 minutes left. The Beavers continued to pressure and were threatening the Abbotsford goal line when full time was called.
Tries: Clay Ross(1) Iain Small(1) David Jeffrey (1) Robbie Sisson(1)
Converts: Ryno Jacobs(4)
This was a heartbreaking loss for Surrey and a double kick in the junk with the 2nds losing also. Like the groundhog comes the early spring, so now does the time without rugby. The season was finished for about two hours when my significant other began planning my Tuesday & Thursday evenings and Saturdays. Letting me know I was soon to have too much time on my hands.
This was a different season; we welcomed a new coach to the club and parted with a long time coach. The Thirsty Thirds played every game again, with a mixture of players from all divisions, as did the Seconds. The Seconds and Thirds became a tight group as the two teams were whittled away by injury melding the two bases into one. On Saturdays there were many players who played more than a game and a half, some played both full games. It was a credit to the club. VP Paul Kelly was huge in working the phones to confirm enough players each week and liaise with the BCRU and the member clubs, he was also massive in his effort and work rate on the pitch, as well as captaining the 1st Division. Well done, Paul, without your effort I would have had no one to coach on Saturdays. Cheers. The Firsts and Seconds ended in the BC Semi-final, for another close but no cigar moment. Overall, I'd call it a good season.
Just trying to capture the spirit of the thing......