On Saturday the Beavers went on the road and had their 2nd division men’s side in Richmond and their 3rd division men’s side in Chilliwack.
With the 1st division men on a bye week and 2nd division women having their game once again postponed due to weather issues this currently is the most bizarre start to the Spring season the club has had in a very long time. It has been a struggle to get any sort of consistency from players when on any given week there is a shortage of games on the schedule or unforgiving weather that has impacted weekend play and training sessions outside. Nonetheless the club had two games to play with big points on the line facing two opposition clubs that are only supporting one side each. The sun was out and the fields were dry for what was to be a beautiful but chilly day for rugby.
SBAA 3rd Division Men – Loss 29-12
The mighty Beavers hit the ground running Saturday with their sights set on following-up on last week’s win with another. With a full lineup and a great warm up, all players were chomping at the bit to bring the heat against rival club Chilliwack.
Early in the game with hard rugby being played on both sides, the mighty 3rds were awarded a penalty with the try line in sight. The oh-so-suave Aaron "Cheese" Viola floated in virtually untouched to put the Beavers in the lead and Brandon Gatto confidently claimed extra points. This week’s game had some strong defensive plays from the Surrey Beavers’ backs; strong tackling from Mitch Robertson stopping more than one Chilliwack break in his tracks. The Crusaders are known to have a tight pick and go game, which has proven problematic in many situations for the Thirsty Thirds. The heavier set home team pack made it challenging for the Beavs to stop the players in their tracks as they looked to make slow but consistent gains.
The 2nd half erupted with hard running from both sides. The Beavs made a few front row subs bringing in club newcomer Sheldon Ram, veteran Sandeep Sekhan, and James Kelly. With the fresh front row, the Beavers came out crashing in the 2nd half. Big runs were made by James Kelly as he provided momentum for the Thirsty Thirds. Sheldon Ram and Sandeep Sekhon made moves in the forward pack by hurling themselves into some big game line crashes. The Crusaders kept the pressure on with tight picks off the rucks and the ever-present help of the official. Another week with solid plays by loose forwards Reid Mathews, Darian Archer, and John Eadie who followed the ball defensively and made the effort to close up gaps around rucks. Heading into the final quarter of the game Kelly punched through the Chilliwack defense and into the try zone touching down for the Beavers’ second try of the day
This Saturday marked the return of Beaver center Robert Sisson, who brought great energy and experience to the 3rd div back line. The salty-vet at center has been a regular for the Beavs for the last decade. The back three played great coming up big defensively, preventing Chilliwack from getting around the outside of the pitch and returning the kicked ball for gains. Winger Kyle Johnson had another solid game proving to have the Johnson brothers’ can-do attitude. As with all major sports organizations, young players coming through the system prove to be more and more important in the longevity of a club’s success. Kyle Johnson has demonstrated his worth and has proved to be a solid draft choice; big things are expected from this up and coming Beaver.
Late in the game the visitors found themselves down and retreating to the goal line. Outsized by the Chilliwacks’ players the Beavers were beginning to struggle finishing their tackles and stopping the Crusaders’ momentum. Some untimely penalties didn’t help the effort as the men got themselves in a hole too big to dig themselves out of. The men throughout the whole game fought a hard game and deserved full credit for playing sound rugby. The Thirsty Thirds came out in solid numbers and brought their fight, although caught off guard by Chilliwack’s strength, the men never hung their heads in defeat. Proving against Chilliwack, it's not the size of the Beaver in the fight it's the size of the fight in the Beaver.
There is an unlimited amount of potential for this young team, and on a weekly basis the men are progressing more. Unfortunately, inexperience may prove to be a barrier to reaching full potential at the time but the only way to get the club’s players to play better is to give them game time on the weekend. In the stretch between this Saturday's game and the next one on March 18, the Thirsty Thirds can take advantage of this break in the schedule to put in some hard work at training before they head to Abbotsford for a 3rd div matchup.
Tries: Aaron Viola (1) James Kelly (1)
Man of the Match: Best forwards James Kelly, and best back was Robert Sisson.
SBAA 2nd Division Men – Win 67-0
The Beavers headed to King George Park in Richmond ready to take on Richmond RFC on Saturday. With sunny skies the Beavs were focused and ready to take on a Richmond side still hungry for their first win of the season. With a solid warmup the men took the field and were ready to defend their own winning streak. The visitors got off to a solid start controlling the play and working hard in the breakdowns. The Richmond side was an older and bigger team and was being very stubborn in the rucks and scrums. The home team did well to force the Beavers to play tight and commit numbers to the breakdown which was working well for Richmond at first. The Beavs, playing conservative in open field at first were comfortable at just doing some hit ups with the forwards and centers. Finally the visitors discovered that most of the offensive opportunities were going to come out wide they adjusted and started to exploit the fringes of Richmond’s defensive line. By the 14th minute the visiting side was up 10-0 and starting to get comfortable with their structure. Holding up well on defense the men looked excellent on knocking down Richmond’s heavy runners. As per usual open side flanker Jack Wallace led with the tackle count and did an outstanding job all game long knocking players over.
Scrums were messy to say the least for the Beavers as Richmond’s pack made the sets an unstable platform to release the backline off of. The pack was still effective in winning ball in the sets, but struggled to spread it quickly across the field as it was too messy for scrum half Brandon Craig to play effectively. As the game started to open up for the Beavs they did very well on keeping possession of the ball after some stubborn rucks and then Brandon would release the loose forwards and or backs out wide. The Beavers did well to make sure that they had good support on the ball carrier and punished the Richmond players around the tackle area. By the 30th minute of the 1st half Richmond had carted off about 3 players that were to beaten to play on and this reflected in the physicality that the Beavers brought.
With a comfortable 25 to 30 point lead going into the 2nd half coach Taylor made a few changes, the biggest one being former Richmond RFC player Andrew McIntyre who had just recently recovered from his cancer treatment. Andrew has been playing with the Beavers since the 2016 Fall season and has been an outstanding addition to the rugby on and off the field. He was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer in early December and fought it like the champion he is and has recently received a clean bill of health from his doctors. Andrew was very excited to play his former club mates that were his teammates this time last year.
The first try of the half belonged to Andrew as he walked in a try that was handed off to him by Jack Wallace. It was great to witness Jack dart through the Richmond defense and get his way cleared to the try line to then stop feet away from the goal line and look back to find Andrew so he could finish off the score; very classy move.
The quality of tries that followed that one were outstanding as several tries were scored after multiple phases of play that had the Beavers stick to their structure and execute out wide. There was great leadership from skipper Iain Small, and both Dylan Tatomir and Ryno Jacobs at standoff. Flashy players like Marcus Tam got creative out wide with some of his scores and gave the visiting fans something to smile about when punched a couple tries in once again. Jeff Bergunder and Nick Sharp were dynamite in the centers and ran solid lines off each other and their 10 all game long. The front row played outstanding and too and they slowly grinded down the heavier set Richmond front row as the game progressed. Joey Murphy and Ryan Mitchell again were solid at lock and Joey went on some heavy runs that knocked several opposition players.
Although the final score was an unbalanced one Richmond RFC deserved full credit for playing right until the end.
Tries: Joey Murphy (1) Jeff Bergunder (2) Nick Sharp (1) Shane Ram (1) Marcus Tam (2) Andrew McIntyre (2) Chris Atkinson (1) Reid Gordon (1)
Man of the Match: Best back was Shane Ram, and best forward was Andrew McIntyre.
Next up for the Beavers is the long awaited series against Abbotsford RFC. The men will be heading out to Abbotsford for matches in 1st 2nd and 3rd division. The boys have not faced Abbotsford since last spring in the Provincial playoffs so this should be a Saturday that no one would want to miss.