The Beavers bowed out of the BC Rugby playoffs on Saturday, but not before an epic battle was played out on the rugby pitch at SH Park. The semi-final game between the Beavers and VRC had everything; flashy play, big hits, strong running, and great defense from both clubs. Two fantastic clubs played their absolute guts out for over 80 minutes, and both players and supporters alike agreed the game could have ended in either team’s favor.
Pre-game the Beavers made some changes with their roster for this big matchup. It was decided adding the 2nd Division stalwart Andrew McIntyre to the backrow would be necessary for this match. Andrew being the tallest player in the club was leaned on heavily to shut down and make a muck of the VRC lineouts. Using all the pace the club could muster it was also necessary to add much needed speed to the back 3, so the Beavers started club speedsters Marcus Tam and Nathanial Silva.
The game started with the Beavers pushing the attack and testing the Rowers early on. An early shot at points was missed wide by Jamie Beaton. Following some good back and forth rugby the Beavers constant pressure on the Rowers finally had big winger Aaron Martin jam one through the Rowers’ defensive line. A missed convert made it a thin 5-0 lead for the Beavers. The home side kept the pressure up for a lot of the 1st half, and they did an excellent job shutting down the VRC attack. The sets belonged to the Beavers all day, not much else to say about that, the scrum had been the strength of the Beavers in Div 1 all season long. The pleasant surprise to everyone however was how well the Beavers did in the line outs on Saturday. Defensively they shut down the Rowers for the majority of the game, and while the VRC owned the attack in previous matchups off lineouts on Saturday the Beavs snuffed it out. The boys were locked in on the defensive lineouts, and on offense hooker Nick Bruce and the Beaver jumpers were able to connect avoiding the oversized Rowers.
For the Beavers there was some very hard luck that came their way in the 1st half with both star players James Kelly at 8, and Jamie Beaton at fly half getting nailed with injuries. Both suffered severe lower body injuries, and the two Beaver legends became handicapped with their play, but did their absolute best to soldier on for as long as they possibly could. The Rowers caught the luckiest break with arguably the Beavs’ two best players getting injured within the same 15 minutes of play.
By halftime both teams were still stuck-in the match and the score was held strong at 5-0. The Beavers had their opportunities to extend their lead, and the visitors had several opportunities to get on the score board. It seemed the plays that usually finished in a score in the regular season did not on this day, and the kicks that usually got slotted for points were not converted as both teams struggled to get much needed points on the board. The low score reflected the great defense that was on display for both clubs on the day. Players were making their hits count, and punishing hits resulted in good turnovers for both teams.
The 2nd half started with much more of the same and both teams didn’t seem to want to budge on defense. After battling it out on the pitch a little longer the injured Jamie Beaton finally had to call it a day and was helped off the field with about 30 minutes left in the 2nd half. The Beavs made adjustments and refocused the best they could. Both teams still struggled to find a break in each other’s defensive lines, and again another opportunity for points was missed wide for the Beavers. The struggle was real for both teams, as the Rowers had their opportunities fizzle away too. It seemed more and more like whoever scored the next set of points may just take the momentum and claim the game. With about 20 minutes left in the match the Rowers struck off a clearing attempt by Nat Silva from the Beavers’ 22 that never found touch. A quick counter by the Rowers’ back 3 finally had them find some space and get over the goal line. A good convert put the Rowers up by a narrow margin 7-5. The Beavers kept pushing the pace of play knowing that the game was far from over. Surrey did an excellent job putting pressure on the Rowers, but credit to the Vancouver side as they always seemed to find a way to get their hands on the ball. The Beavers continued to put pressure on the Rowers at the sets and lineouts and shut down the maul attack that had been so effective for the visitors in the past. Defensively, the Beavers were very sound, the problem was the Rowers were just as good, and neither team was giving up much.
An offside call on the Beavers’ 30 gave the Rowers' kicker an easy PK attempt to make and put his team up by 5, and the VRC kicker didn’t miss this opportunity. Down 10-5 with about 10 minutes to go the Beavers gave it all they had in the tank. Again, and again the home side attacked with pace and skill, but just couldn’t string enough phases together. Whether it was a turnover at the breakdown, a knocked on ball, or a player being held up, the home team kept ending up short with their attack. Several opportunities to kick for points could not even be conceived as it just didn’t seem there would be enough time to slot two PKs to take the lead. With no time left the boys were still charging down deep inside the visitor’s half, penalty after penalty the boys looked to score, but the Rowers were formidable on defense. On about the 15 meter line the Beavers were left with a final charge, but the ball got out wide a little too quickly and at the breakdown the ball somehow got loose in contact and rolled into touch.
The game now ended, the Beavers left gutted, but the players tried to keep their heads held up high. It was an all-out war on the field, and both teams should be commended for their display of hard rugby and sportsmanship. It was a tough result for the club to swallow, but a great match to watch.
Tries: Aaron Martin (1)
The Beavers were so excited about having the opportunity to make it to the BC Finals three seasons in a row, but unfortunately the result on the day wouldn’t allow that. The players regrouped at the end of the match and thanked each other for giving it everything they had to make it a game their club will always remember. The club couldn’t be more proud of its players, the boys went out on the pitch and played with all heart and passion. More so, everyone that took to the pitch for the Beavers on Saturday were born and raised in Surrey, and all of them definitely represented their city very proudly.