With the Surrey Beavers still in the playoff picture the 1st and 2nd division men headed up to Kelowna to face the mighty Crows.
For the Beavers' 1st division side it was a must win game as their playoff hopes balances on a much finer line than their 2nd division side. Needless to say the group of men playing are confident they can make some noise in April and get a deep playoff run going that would then lead to the BC Finals in all men’s divisions. The 3rd division men off on a bye week worked in the Beavs favor very well because travelling up the Coquihalla always impacts the playing ability of the starting players. Going up with 2 solid sides plus plenty of spares was necessary if the Beavs wanted two wins. The 2nd division women would hold the fort down at home as they hosted Westshore RFC 2nd division women’s side too. Another Saturday in the books and another 3 senior rugby games played by the Surrey Beavers!
SBAA 2nd Division Women – Loss 35 – 15
With the Beavers men out of town it was up to the women to represent on home territory. Westshore RFC traveled with their men's team to have a fast paced game of tens at Sullivan Heights Park. Right out of the gates Westshore showed that travel doesn't affect them; they put significant offensive pressure on the Beavs. The open communication the Beavers had shown in their past couple of games really shined on Saturday. The senior women's defensive line held strong through multiple attempts by Westshore to gain ground. The strength the forwards had with the ball allowed for Tori McQueen to push through the defense and had a great run and scored the Beavers first try of the game. Forwards like Shawna Binns and Kristle Chand powered through the defensive lines giving distance and distraction for the ball to go to the backs. Jaylen Walstra was placed as a wing, and she really took the position and owned it by remembering to keep wide in order to keep their backs in check. The Beavers’ backs used this wide stance to obtain two tries. Jaylen Walstra scored for the Beavers in the second twenty; she did so with a solid run past the Westshore back line. The ball was taken out wide in the backs in the third. Samantha Lutz ran the ball, who then handed it off to Jaylen Walstra on the wing and Maretta Taylor offered support which resulted in a successful try. While the Beavers may have lost the game on Saturday, they still played a hard-hitting game and were proud of the connection growing throughout the team.
A special shout out to Allison McMillan who really put in the effort to rally the team, and who showed amazing enthusiasm in support of everyone on Saturday. She showed that injuries don't stop anyone from being a big part of a team!
Tries: Tori McQueen (1) Jaylen Walstra (1) and Maretta Taylor (1)
Women of the Match: The best back was Jaylen Walstra and the best forward was Shawna Binns
SBAA 2nd Division Men – Win 36 – 29
This past Saturday the Beavers took to the road for a big match up against the Kelowna Crows. Though they faced them in the fall season, it’s a whole new game when the shoe is on the other foot and you’re the travelling team. This is the first time the Beavers have been back up to Kelowna for a season game in 3 years, so this was a big club day for everyone involved.
The game started with a kickoff and a heavy chase by the visiting team, and the Crows were ready for it. Kelowna came out with strong hard hitting runners in the forward pack. They made an attempt to grind the ball up the short side of the field with key forward runners and an elusive winger. They were nearly successful early on, but the Beavers managed to work the ball back down the field with a kick counter and chase. Once the Beavers took possession they started to play for territory, and when close enough the forwards took aim at rolling heavy into the Crows’ defense. They were successful in isolating the defense, which allowed scrum half Brandon Craig to take the ball himself and grind a few short meters over the try line for the first try of the day. Right back to it the Crows went on the attack. They did a commendable job pressuring on their kickoffs and the Beavs fell on their back foot losing possession a number of times. In a constant battle for possession and field position, the boys found themselves on the front foot once again with some strategic penalty kicks and successful line outs. After a tough grind back and forth, big running lock Joey Murphy plowed through the Crows’ defense for a dive over the try line. Unfortunately this try was ruled a knock on, and therefore didn’t count. However the Beavers kept the pressure on up front and a few minutes later Joey Murphy found himself back over the line, making the second attempt a successful try. Failure to retain possession on the kick returns, the visitors seemed to be losing their momentum. Despite key tackles from forwards Jack Wallace and Sheldon Ram, and plenty of heavy pressure from backs Marcus Tam, Shane Ram Tyler Johnson, the Crows team were prevailing. The Beavs were having trouble swinging the ball out wide and retaining possession in the breakdowns, and the unfortunate injuries of Shane Ram and Dylan Tatomir did not help their cause. The Crows kept the pressure on and finished the half with the lead.
The Beavers came into the 2nd half facing an eager Kelowna side. The Crows started to show a more dynamic side as they brought in a few impact subs, and split their forward pack on the kickoffs. Facing a ferocious headwind, the visitors were really struggling to move the ball downfield. Even kicking became a challenge with the added disadvantage. Failing to win line outs or retain possession of the ball, and giving up field position over numerous penalties, the Crows were able to capitalize on the Beavers as they scored 3 more tries early in the half. Frustrated, tired, and against the ropes, the Beaver side appeared to be broken. However, if there is one thing that this club has if nothing else, they have plenty of heart. The boys were not defeated yet, and with a few key substitutions Beaver vets Ryno Jacobs, lock Mitch Hicks and hooker Aaron Desnoyers came into the game, eager to make a difference.
The young Beavers capitalized on handling errors by the Crows as they started to once again dominate the scrums and move the ball downfield. Scrumming about 15 meters out, there was a moment of genius on a highlight reel play, as Brandon Craig grubbered a ball received from a pick over the touch line and James Bailey showed his speed, talent, and work ethic as he touched it down at the corner flag for a try. It was right here when the Beavers rose again, as skipper Iain Small and Ryno Jacobs decided the best way to win this game was to avoid line outs, and instead chose to run the ball hard at the Crows every chance they had. The backline moved the ball very well and flanker Andrew McIntyre showed great handling skills in the backline as he drew defenders with great pace and managed to slip a pass to hip support runner Mitch Hicks with no one to beat for another try. At this point the beavers were down by 7 points, with 15 minutes left in the game. They were determined to put up 2 more tries before the end. Some key line breaks and huge runs from Iain Small assisted a huge momentum shift for the Beavers, as they marched the ball downfield with great pace and momentum. Hard runner Joey Murphy showed exactly why he is a force on the field as he managed to plow through Kelowna’s defensive line over and over again, and he touched down 2 more tries with defenders hanging off of him.
In a game that appeared to be a sure loss, the Beavers displayed an admirable amount of heart, dedication, and teamwork as they overcame the adversity faced in this road game. The men rallied through the storm and pulled away with a 36-29 win.
Tries: Brandon Craig (1) James Bailey (1) Joey Murphy (3) and Mitch Hicks (1)
Man of the Match: The best forward was Joey Murphy, and the best back was James Bailey
SBAA 1st Division Men – Win 45 – 15
After witnessing a great comeback win by their 2nd division comrades the 1st division side looked to make some noise in their game too. The boys knew Kelowna is a very challenging club to play up in their hometown and were not planning on an easy win. Like the 2nd div game from the initial kickoff one could tell it was going to be a dogfight. Kelowna came out with fury and did their best to push the Beavers back in their 22-meter. Pounding the ball up within the 10-meter line the Crows were able to put points on the scoreboard first. Not at all fazed the men knew they would have to be patient and play out the initial storm Kelowna was going to throw at them.
In the 1st half the boys played against a howling wind that made all of the Crows' kicks go a mile long and forced the Beavs’ kicks to be kept low. Sticking to the plan the men worked their way down to Kelowna’s half where they kept the pressure on the home side. They stayed patient on defense and waited for the Crows to slip up. After some good set work the men crossed the try-line for their first points of the game. A well-earned try put some extra fire in the Beavers' bellies and they worked hard to keep the pressure on. After a bizarre yellow card was handed out to prop Ryan Kulasekare for knocking on the ball in the middle of the field the team had to double down their defensive effort while playing down a man. The Beavs fortunately didn’t get suckered by the questionable card and did what they had to do to contain the ball. The Beavers worked their way down into the Kelowna’s half where stand off Jamie Beaton put in a perfectly laid out grubber for Beavers’ star center Clay Ross to pick up and score. The boys didn’t mind playing a man down at all and it didn’t seem to impact their playing style one bit. The center pairing of Clay Ross and Reid Gordon was absolute dynamite and offensively they did very well to run their lines and were also rock solid on defense. The back 3 commanded by the always-allusive Robert Jones did an excellent job returning kick counters. Jamie Beaton put in some stellar kicks with the wind still howling. In one instance the boys were pinned deep in their 22 and Beaton attempted to pound the ball down the field but the ball got caught up in the wind and started blowing 15 meters back towards the Beavs' own goal line. Fortunately a very strong running Clay caught the ball well short of Beaton’s kicking range and ran it down the throats of the Crows leading toanother try for the visitors. An exceptional first half on the road had the Beavers comfortably in the lead.
Substitutions were made in the scrum at half time as Dylan Vermette was shifted out so that Paul Kelly could get in on some play. Dylan, a seasoned div 2 player has done an exceptional job playing up in 1st division this spring and deserved credit for a job well done in his role. Great to see young talent like Dylan slide into a position and be the difference out on the field. Adding a little meat into the scrum made all the difference when Paul came in and the 2nd half had the Beavs absolute dominate the sets. Some good hard running by the forwards wore down the opposition and forced them to commit numbers to each tackle. Opportunities were out wide for the Beavers all game long and that’s where they attacked as the Crows would pour over every single ruck. Excellent lineout throws and play calls set a perfect platform for the heavy set Beavers to go out and do some damage and then they got set to play expansive ball. The men really worked hard on staying disciplined but struggled to find any consistency with calls on the field, and that again played a factor on killing their momentum. Off sides were again an issue for the defensive players who were too stubborn to take a step back and lay off the slow playing Crow scrum half. Fortunately the boys fought off any pressure they had against them from too many penalties. The team allowed the Crows to put two tries down in the 2nd half but they did a good job squashing any idea Kelowna had on making a comeback. Keeping pace with the 1st half the team worked in some nicely scored tries in the 2nd half too. The score sheet was very well balanced with plenty of backs and forwards getting in on the scoring action. As the boys heard the final whistle they all circled up and congratulated each other on two awesome road victories.
The boys did an outstanding job on the road and a huge thanks to Kelowna for being excellent hosts back at the pub!
Tries: Dylan Vermette (1) Matt Bose (1) James Kelly (1) Alex Martin (1) Clay Ross (1) Reid Gordon (1) and Riley Johnson (1)
Man of the Match: Best forward was Ryan Kulasekare and best back was Jamie Beaton
This weekend coming up will be a big match against old time rivals Langley Rugby Club as Langley host Surrey for their annual Alumni day. It should be another great day of rugby for the mighty Beavers.