Snow was in the forecast for the matches on Saturday, and surprisingly after a crisp Thursday night training session at Sullivan Heights Park the Beavers woke up to snow on the ground on Friday morning in Surrey.
Scheduled to host Westshore RFC for the women’s match on the Saturday was unfortunately pushed back as the City of Surrey shut down all grass fields within the city. The Beavers were reassured however by both the Chilliwack Crusaders and Port Alberni Black Sheep that the conditions maybe cold but were still good enough to play rugby at their fields. So without hesitation the Beavs set their lineups that had the Div 1 men headed off to Port Alberni and the Div 3 men east into the Fraser Valley to take on the Crusaders. The 1st Div men were scheduled to take the 8:30AM ferry from Horseshoe Bay and it was promised to be a long day for some, and an even longer day for the few players that didn’t make the timed departure. Another weekend in the books as the Beavers were getting the hang of being on the road for the majority of the season thus far.
SBAA 3rd Division Men – Loss 38 – 19
Another tough match up on Saturday for the Thirsty Thirds who are still working to get in the win column this season, but still hopeful as the season is still some what young. The men headed to Chilliwack and believed that they could get the job done with a little extra support. Unlike the weekend previous the Beavers this time were able to send a deeper bench to Chilliwack to help support the starting 15, but it still wasn’t enough to push the visitors through the challenges of taking on Chilliwack. The Beavs biggest change was giving starting Div 2 standoff Brandon Gatto the nod to start in the Div 3 lineup. The coaches were optimistic that he could help breathe some more structure in the backline’s attack. Unfortunately the Beavs could not match the physicality of the oversized Crusaders who were hitting the rucks hard and making big runs on offense. Although this time the Beavers were happy to see some better results on the score board the boys are still looking to get going offensively and getting some true finishers in the lineup would help. But still 3 tries was a dramatic improvement from being shut out the weekend previous. It is still a dramatic learning curve for many of the new players in the club and hopefully these matches will see much more of a balanced score line in the coming weeks as the Beavs look to take on Chilliwack again in December. A tough loss for the Beavs but a better result showed improvement from the lads. And many thanks to Chilliwack for the post match host up.
Tries: Munbir Josan (1) Mattaus Smith (1) Joey Murphy (1)
Converts: Brandon Gatto (2)
SBAA 1st Division Men – Win 59 – 10
A road trip to the Island was always an exciting time for the Beavs in the past and for years the club enjoyed a trip or two each season to Vancouver Island. However in the last 3-4 seasons these trips have become practically non-existent as the Mainland’s Div 1 league was split from Island's Div 1 league. This season now has some of the Island teams (Alberni/Cowichan) playing a handful of cross over games against a handful of Mainland Div 1 sides. Hopefully next season will see both leagues merge into one larger Division 1 league.
The Beavers finally were headed over to Port Alberni after about a 5 year hiatus and oddly enough snow was in the forecast for Saturday. Not afraid of a little snow the Beavers were looking at staying red hot in rather chilly conditions as the Div 1 side hasn't lost a match since early February. And after confirming with the Black Sheep that yes their field was not frozen and that the furnace was operational in their clubhouse the Beavs set a course to the Island. Not shocked that once docked at Departure Bay that it was snowing it was time to hit the road to Port Alberni wondering what conditions would be waiting there for the club. With no change in the conditions on the bus ride to Alberni the players quickly accepted the fact that yes they would be playing the game in the snow and that still no one would be allowed to take the field wearing leggings unless they wanted to be ridiculed until the end of their playing days.
An action packed game for the Beavers was had as the team looked to enjoy themselves out on the field playing in the snow. Short on a few starters and a few spares who went to the wrong ferry terminal in the morning (Jamie Beaton, Clay Ross, Jareed Samuel, and Sandeep Sekhon) the boys made some adjustments in the lineup and fulfilled a forward's dream and started Andrew McIntyre on the wing. The players starting did overall a very good job moving the ball in some very tough weather conditions. At times the visibility was the biggest challenge but overall there was an agreeance that it was more enjoyable playing in the snow compared to playing in the pouring rain. Also kudos to Alberni who had done an excellent job maintaining their field as it was in mint condition on Saturday.
The boys got a few scores up from the Black Sheep after some well contested rucks and scrums. The home side had some good size in their pack, but the Beavs were very physical at the tackles and worked hard to get the ball out wide to their speed. Most of the opportunities for the Beavs came 10-15 meters off the rucks as the Black Sheep struggled to defend outside their A & B gaps. Moving the ball was the goal for the boys, but there was still plenty of hard running by the forwards. At one point big tight head prop Chris Atkinson sent Alberni’s #10 flying back when he decided to bosh him out of his way. The Beavers were also effective on doing quick penalties on the day as it was deemed very early on not to go for touch. Not exactly clear why the boys decided to run every penalty but with the snow falling down the game took on a backyard game feel to it. The boys won their only offensive line out of the game and with Alberni electing to kick for touch on their penalties the Beavers had ample opportunity to steal Alberni ball and were successful on several occasions.
Heading back to the change rooms at halftime the players looked composed and relaxed with a 26-0 lead. With the goal in the 2nd half being to close out the game and make sure everyone on the sideline got in for some well-deserved action the Beavers looked to make plenty of roster changes. With the 'lost boys' now present at the field after some ferry terminal mishaps changes to the line up were made. When it came to scrums in the 2nd half as more and more spares came in the balance of the pack leaned much more in Alberni’s favor. At first big second rower Cam McMurchy assisted in keeping the scrum stable but as soon as Atkinson was swapped out for Kjell Hope who was wearing soccer cleats the scrums got a little more chaotic. The home side drove in two scores on the Beavs’ own 5 meter line in the 2nd half. However the Beavs didn’t stop scoring either with plenty of players getting in on the action. The boys were successful on touching the ball down for 9 tries during the game, and that may not seem like a big accomplishment but with how the playing conditions were it was a surprising feat. It was great to see the boys bounce back from a tough match the week before that had them only score 3 tries. This game was another reminder of how quickly the Beavers can put up points and how stubborn they can be on defense too.
As wins on the road go this one can be deemed a huge success; all bonus points collected, a big score margin, and zero injuries to players. Full kudos to the Black Sheep for putting on a great post-game feed and drink up. The Black Sheep certainly do have a clubhouse that only most rugby clubs can dream of having and the Beavers certainly look forward to their next match at Port Alberni.
Tries: James Kelly (1) Chris Atkinson (1) Riley Nagy (2) Alex Martin (2) Clay Ross (2) Jareed Samuel (1)
Converts: Riley Nagy (2) Jamie Beaton (5)
The club heads into the Remembrance Day long weekend with no games on the schedule until November 18th. If the first weekend of November was any sign of how the weather will be for the remainder of the 1st half it is going to be a challenge to say the least to get four more weeks of games off. The club looks to host the majority of their matches at Sullivan Heights Park which has been starved of hosting matches so far this half. The Beavers are looking forward to wrapping up the 2017 fall season before the weather gets too bad.