Not the Saturday the club was looking for on the score board this last weekend, but results aside it was a fantastic day to be a Beaver. Two away venues and three matches played for the Beavers on Saturday and boys looked to play the part of road warriors. Thwarted by some last minute injuries and unavailability by key players the club still looked to play some hard rugby out on the pitch.
SBAA 3rd Division Men – Loss 24-0
The Thirsty Thirds played exceptionally well against a very strong Meraloma Division 3 side. The club played a very youthful 3rd Division roster, and it was great to see that the Lomas had a ton of youth in their roster too. The Lomas took the day on the score board, but the Beavers played hard throughout the entirety of the match. Unable to get over the goal-line the boys still looked very good, and kudos to Jordan Sousa for stepping up and playing 10. There were still lots of good play with the ball for the Thirsty Thirds and they attacked very well at times. Defensively the boys looked good at times too, but the Lomas backs were very challenging to contain. A good effort for the boys, and they look to regroup as they head on the road again and play the Kats this Easter Long Weekend.
SBAA 2nd Division Men – Loss 16-10
The 2nd Div boys claimed the first two games of the regular season series against Bayside by a landslide. However, Bayside RFC has recently been successful with recruiting some import players onto their 1st Div roster, and with that move some Division 1 regulars joined the ranks on the Sharks’ Div 2 side. The Beavers unable to field the strongest side they have had this spring on Saturday created some opportunities for 3rd Division players to fill in.
The Beavs uncharacteristically spent a lot of time on the defensive side of the ball during the entirety of the match. Close to 80% of possession belonged to the Sharks, and overall the score line wasn’t too bad considering the lack of offense. Simply, the men couldn’t get moving forward, and almost every other time a Beaver player would touch the ball a knock-on or a poor pass attempt was made. Credit to Bayside’s defense it was strong, but the Beavers constantly made errors of their own. The ball was like a bar of soap for the players and they struggled to hold onto it in contact. The scrum had an excellent drive in their first set but from there on out it was constantly struggling to fight off the Shark’s. With regulars like Ryan Mitchell, Cam McMurchy and Andrew McIntyre the pack was missing the bite it usually had. The backs moved the ball sideways but couldn’t get up the field, and the hard hitting centers Jeff Bergunder and Nick Sharp couldn’t produce much in yards forward. About a dozen times the ball was recovered in the Beavers 22 but not once was a kick successful for touch, and therefore little relief was found for the Beavers on defense. Nathanial Silva, Shane Ram and Jareed Samuel struggled to produce much on kick counters and attack out wide.
If there was any silver lining in the match it was that the Beavers’ line defense was excellent throughout. The Sharks went up to a 9-0 lead in about 20 minutes, but outside of another try being scored the boys held strong. Brandon Gatto slotted a PK of his own and the score at halftime was 16-3. The score never got out of control but the Beavers had no offense on the day. Not being able to maintain good possession was their issue, and the backs unable to get much on attack was truly a surprise to everyone. The Beavers worked very hard in the 2nd half to get over the goal-line but the final whistle blew with the Sharks full of cheers as they won for the first time in 2nd Div against the Beavers for the first time in more than a few seasons. 16-10 was the final and full credit to the home team for battling hard and taking the win, the Sharks are looking like a solid Div 2 contender.
Tries: Nolan Spalek (1)
Converts: Brandon Gatto (1)
Penalty Kicks: Brandon Gatto (1)
SBAA 1st Division Men – Loss 50-25
The 1st Div match started great for the visiting Beavers who controlled the majority of the play at the start of the match. Getting an early shot for points the Beavers took a very early 3-0 lead when Beaton slotted a beauty kick. Following some great hands out wide it looked as the Beavs were going to get down the field and score, but hooker Nick Bruce was uncharacteristically stripped of the ball in contact. The Sharks’ scrum half ran the ball all the way back to the Beavers’ corner to put the Sharks up 5-3. The Beavs kept pushing and reclaimed a 6-5 lead with another shot at points, it was still mostly in the Beavs control early on in the match. The boys got into some trouble though shortly afterwards, when Beaton took a very regrettable yellow card for kicking the ball away after the whistle blew on a Bayside penalty. That card allowed the Sharks to get going finally with their home crowd cheering them on loud and proud. Some poor tackling all around caused havoc as it was taking way too many Beavers to bring some of the bigger Bayside players down. The Beavs getting outnumbered from their lack luster tackling out wide and the Sharks were able to finally touch another try down with the Beavs down a man. Still, the penalty count stayed in the Beavs favor and would stay that way throughout the game; however the Beavs always find the worst time to take the penalties they received. When the Sharks’ open side flanker, big man Livai Naivogo took a yellow for a high tackle attempt, the Beavers were unable to capitalize on the man advantage which shifted the momentum back to the Sharks. The home team pounded the line with their big boys as they understood the Beavs were not up to tackling on the day and though the Beavs did their best to stay strong it seemed that the wheels potential may have had come off for the visitors who failed to get much going offensively.
Scrums weren’t an issue at all on the day, the Beavs were definitely outsized but pound for pound were very solid in the pack, but lineouts were again an issue. Solid effort from the tight five kept the boys matching Bayside’s big boys in the pack. The visitors were able to capitalize on about 50% of their lineouts, not exactly what the boys need. Moving forward, it’ll be a priority to sort out the lineouts for the Beavs as it is something that needs to be improved. Twice more in the 1st half the Beavers failed to play good, stiff defense and Bayside did not fail to capitalize. The boys constantly shot themselves in the foot making poor decisions with the ball and not making a good enough effort on defense. The defense off the lineouts in mid-field was chaotic and unorganized, an utter disaster as the Sharks found some very easy scores from that part of the field. The Beavers were making the home team not just look good, but unstoppable and this classic city derby match was becoming an absolute rout!
At halftime the Beavers had still only put 6 points on the board, and things were not meshing on offense with the Beavs down 22-6. The Beavers knew they still had the ability to get back in the match, but they needed to start scoring and it was imperative that they play some solid defense for the remainder of the match. Not at all deterred the boys believed they could slowly chip away at the lead that Bayside claimed in the 1st half. Keys for the 2nd half were getting the tackles lower and making good decisions on offense. The referees were doing an excellent job keeping the chippiness to rather a low level between these two bitter teams, and if you were to ask both teams they’d both tell you that the opposition is way cheaper than they are.
The 2nd half did not start too well, and the same issues that were plaguing the Beavers in the 1st half stayed with them in the next 40 minutes. Poor open field tackling on the Sharks’ big boys, and slow line defense by the Beavs off lineouts allowed the Sharks to score the first 2 tries of the 2nd half. Basically, the Beavers accepted the fact that the day was not going to be claimed by their club, and focused on getting 4 tries to at the very least collect a bonus point and clinch up the #1 seed for playoffs. Using that as motivation the boys worked to get down and score 3 times in the next 25 minutes, and 2 of those tries came with rather ease. The backs really started to get moving with the ball out wide and holes were starting to open up for them on offense. But miscues followed good play and two good scoring positions the boys didn’t get a pass picked off, but literally passed it right to the opposition player. Sweet relief was found for the Sharks, as complete frustration fell of the Beaver players. The important fourth try looked to be on its way as a group of three Beavers sprinted down the field after recovering a cross kick from Beaton and the boys heavily outnumbered a Shark defender. The Beavers were stopped on the 5 meter with a tackle, and with the Shark player not releasing the ball at the breakdown, the Beavers were unable to play some quick ball and take advantage of their numbers and score. A penalty advantage was played but no advantage was gained as the Shark player killed the ball nicely. After the whistle blew for a penalty in favor for the Beavs, flanker Paul Kelly stomped on the offending Sharks’ player hands as he was doing his best to get the ball so he could go quick, and just like that the penalty was reversed in favor of the Sharks. That play however practically summed up the Beavers day, who constantly shot themselves in the foot. Little time left, the Sharks kicked for touch, but then received a short arm penalty for an early jump in the line out, another card was given out to a Bayside player (3rd one on the day)as a blindsided tackle was made before the ball was even tapped by the Beavs trying to go forward. The visitors, getting a penalty in the Sharks’ 15 were once again in good shape to try and score a fourth try and claim 1 bonus point. One last go for the Beavers looked promising, but only after a couple forward phases a knocked on ball by the Beavs out wide made it game over, and all for nothing as the Beavers looked absolutely terrible on the day.
A lackluster outing by the Beavs will hopefully serve as a wakeup call for the lads as they only have one final test before the regular season is over. The boys don’t need a win to the finish the regular season off, but the boys will be looking for redemption after such a poor performance on Saturday. It just was not their day to win, and full credit to the Sharks for playing a hard hitting game of rugby and claiming a well-deserved win. With the Sharks bolstering their roster with boys from Fiji, Australia and England the South Surrey club has definitely raised the quality of their play 10-fold.
Tries: Matt Bose (1) Clay Ross (2)
Converts: Jamie Beaton (2)
Penalty Kicks: Jamie Beaton (2)
The results on Saturday didn’t bold too well for the club on the score board, but the Beavers once again claimed the Onion Shield over the Sharks. The Onion shield was created to commemorate former Surrey player Paul Iannone nicknamed “Onion”, who had taken the field before he had passed away with both Surrey based clubs. Onion was a great, character player and everyone loved to take the field with him. About 3 seasons ago the shield went MIA after Bayside had misplaced the treasured trophy when they claimed it in 2015. Former Bayside President Stephen Black requested that Surrey Beaver Roger Pells make a new Onion Shield so that the tradition can live on for years to come. The shield has now been claimed by the Beavers for the last 3 seasons and is earned on the total win-losses over the regular season series between these two clubs. Thanks to Blackie for getting the Onion Shield going once again and the Beavers look forward to defending the shield again next season.