The Beavers got to host once again on Saturday, and Sullivan Heights’ field was surprisingly still in good shape for early December. The men had two scheduled games against two different clubs. Oddly the Div 1 men were scheduled to play the Vancouver Rowers, but neither Surrey’s nor the Rowers’ Div 2 team was in action; a very bizarre schedule it has been so far this season.
The 3rd Div men were hosting Richmond RFC and hoped for another solid match against the club that had recently given the Thirsty Thirds success this season. Another wet and cold Saturday, and another great day for rugby!
SBAA 3rd Division Men – Win 33-3
The Thirsty Thirds got their second victory against Richmond on Saturday in what was a try scoring, wet, and cold game. It was all Beavers from the initial kickoff as the boys came ready to play. The 3rd Div boys were a little more fired up for their match on Saturday as they finally didn’t have to travel away for the first time since October 14th. And the 3rds put on a show for the home field crowd. With a bolstered roster and an actual bench to play with the 3rds got up early and held onto the lead. Brandon Gatto showing good leadership at standoff did well to keep the young 3rd Div backs in order. Riley Robinson and Shane Ram did an excellent job giving good ball off the back of the rucks. Back rowers Darian Archer and Reid Mathews led by example with the tackle count and the rest of the team followed. Richmond failed to get much going after converting a penalty kick in the first half. Excellent set pieces allowed the boys to play some good solid rugby throughout the very wet match. Richmond unable to bring a bench to Sullivan Heights also gave the Beavs an edge as Richmond’s 15th man went down the visitors had to play down a man for most of the 2nd half.
Overall the Beavers played with plenty of heart and got a great win after some mid-season heartache on the road. Although 3rd Div rugby can be a slog-fest at times after hearing all the cheering and seeing the smiling faces in the change room post-match it’s clear that the young Thirsty Thirds players are enjoying themselves out on the field. Week by week these boys are getting stronger and working more and more like a team on the field.
Tries: Darian Archer (1) Matthaus Smith (1) Sammy Raikadrocka (1) Jordan Sousa (1) Jamahl Knowles (1)
Converts: Brandon Gatto (3)
Drop Kick: Andrew McIntyre (1)
SBAA 1st Division Men – Loss 33-11
The Beavers limped into Saturday’s match still feeling the hits from the weekend before in their bones. A few changes were made on the roster for Saturday’s match against the Vancouver Rowing Club. Facing a Rowers team that is historically full of imported players the Beavers knew they once again would have their hands full as they faced a well-experienced side. The Beavs not having available their starting tight head prop nor their backup tight head who was finishing off his 2 game suspension, meant the club had to look deep into their roster to find a fill in. Like most clubs backrowers and wingers are a dime a dozen, however front row players that can play at Division 1 level are always hard to come by.
The Beavers came out flat off the starting kickoff and allowed the Rowers’ 8th man to cruise up the field deep into Beaver territory. Recovering from the initial attack by the visitors, the Beavers would still stay under continuous pressure for about 6 minutes. After the first scrum went backwards disastrously the Beavers knew it was going to be a long day for the pack. This is not to say the Rowers had a formidable scrum but that the Beavs had some key positional pieces missing in the tight five. Here is hoping that the pack gets healthy again and players who are considered some of the club’s big boys return again. Plus getting the starting front 3 (Jeffreys, Bruce, Atkinson) from last season consistently for more matches would make all the difference in the 2nd half of the season. Nevertheless the Beavs’ pack fought back in the 1st half and definitely made up for their weaknesses in the scrum with good open field tackling and in tight at the rucks. The boys once again allowed the visitors to get on the board first and the team was still not quite playing up to the calibre they usually played. Still reeling from their previous weekend’s battle with Surrey rival Bayside RFC, and now onto their 10th game of the fall half it seemed as though some of the players were a little worst for wear going into this match. None the less the boys kept their chin up and tried to get something going. The Beavers still effective in the open field were doing an excellent job getting the ball around the field. The backline combination of Jamie Beaton, Clay Ross, and Riley Nagy was getting good yardage up the middle of the field, and that’s where the Beavs focused their attack. The forwards chewed up good yardage too on some good picks and wide ball off the rucks. Good ball security at the breakdowns and ball retention gave the Beavs opportunities to get the ball down the field. The scrums surprisingly stabilized in the later part of the 1st half and this even resulted in a penalty against the Rowers at one point in a set piece. The home side started to throw their weight around a little more around the field and the Beavers found themselves right in the midst of the game and the tide was starting to turn as momentum begun to sway in the Beavers' favor. Some strong, hard, and physical runs by the Beavs was wearing down the Rowers. Two shots for points from two penalty kicks and a try scored by the home side gave the Beavers plenty of life. Down 12-11 at half with all the momentum going their way the Beavs were sure that this was the turning point of the game.
The 2nd half started like the 1st half ended with the Beavs in control. With Jamie Beaton making a ridiculous-had-to-be-there highlight reel pass the Beavs marched the ball down the field. Within 10 meters of the goal-line the home team’s hopes dashed as the ball somehow squirted out of a ruck and then was quickly recovered by the Rowers. The Rowers getting out of danger had to do this a few more times in the early part of the half as the Beavs kept pushing. Following a few more good attacks the Beavs’ attack suddenly cooled off. With tough center Clay Ross having to get carried off the field with a nagging ankle injury momentum fell flat for the Beavs. After about 10 minutes of good back and forth action the Rowers decided to park themselves inside the Beavers half for the remainder of the match. Following a Rowers’ scrum inside the Beavs 22 with the visitors passing the ball out a Rower center ran the ball in under the posts as he got through the Beavs’ backline untouched after a defensive hiccup. Less than 10 minutes later another Rowers’ scrum this time on the 5 meter of the Beavs' goal line could not be fought off by the Beavs and this resulted in a penalty try for the Rowers as the scrum collapsed under pressure. These 2 scores (14 points) were daggers to the Beavers, as the scrum and solid defense in middle of the field was usually what the Beavers are known for. Tirelessly the Beavers tried again and again to get momentum going but they couldn’t seem to even get out of their own half of the field. It didn’t seem like the boys had it in them to play a full 80 on this day. The Rowers took full advantage and grinded out another slow demoralizing try that put the home team down by 22 points. The Beavers overall defense wasn’t too bad throughout the entirety of the game; it just cannot be expected for a team to win a game if they only put up 11 points. In fact, it’s been a common occurrence in two previous matches to this game that the Beavers weren’t scoring relentlessly like they regularly did in past games.
Full credit to the Rowers who were ready to go in this game and who had clearly picked up their play since the first time these two sides met in September when the Beavs won convincingly 49-22. There were some solid players on the Rowers’ roster this last Saturday, including a 6’6” Kiwi monster 8-man that was doing damage on the field all game long. The Beavers will need their best roster in the next matchup to counter the skill and depth the Rowers showed on Saturday.
The Beavers took a loss on Saturday in Div 1, but the silver lining being it was their first loss in Div 1 since late February. It goes to show you the standard of rugby the Beavers have been playing in 2017. The Beavers went on about a 17 game winning streak that was finally snapped which is pretty impressive thing to do at any level. However as skipper James Kelly said post-match, players cannot make any excuses for the loss against the Rowers, as it was probably the Div 1 team’s most half-hearted effort to date this season and there was no real reason why the Beavs couldn’t have grinded out a win on Saturday. The men will hopefully learn from this loss and keep working hard as they will need to work even harder if they expect to hold onto the top spot in the Div 1 league.
Tries: Marcus Tam (1)
Penalty Kicks: Jamie Beaton (2)
The Beavs play at home this Saturday, December 9 and it will be their last matches of 2017. The club will be facing the Chilliwack Crusaders in Division 3 and United Rugby Club in Division 1 and 2 action. Fingers crossed the club can get these games off in good conditions before winter finally hits.