The Surrey Beavers continued their 2019 BC Tour, with this week’s stop in the wine country of Kelowna to take on the Crows RFC. The drive into the interior was uneventful though there was a dusting of snow on the peaks of the Coquihalla and the Okanogan Connecter. The Kelowna weather was sunny and a bit windy, there were warm sunny t-shirt wearing segments early and chilliness when the clouds took over. It was fabulous for rugby, not so much for tanning. With various players still unavailable for selection due to injury and others being unable to make this trip, the player pool had a different taste from the side that was routed in Kamloops, two weeks prior. Kelowna was on the bottom half of the standings and Surrey wasn't much further up the table, a win here would be a big boost for either club in the early weeks of the season.
SBAA 2nd Division Men vs Kelowna RFC – Win 28-20
The game started with Surrey working their way into the Kelowna half of the pitch, putting the Crows on defense. It wasn't long before Kelowna was forced into taking a penalty and the Beavers would go for the posts. Brendan "The Cat" Gatto would step up and stroke in the early lead, which is so much better than the standard hole that Surrey usually falls into. A confident bunch of Beavers would receive the following kick off. It wouldn't be very long before Surrey was back on Crow turf. The hometown standoff found running lanes in the unorganized Beaver back line and tore off a 30-meter run that ended with a Kelowna try, completely against the flow of play. The successful convert overtook Surrey, 7-3 for Kelowna. In short order the Crows were flying as their inside center made a break with the help of the standoff. It was showing that Kelowna had found something to exploit in the Beavs defensive structure, when they capitalized and scored their second try, this time not converted. 12-3 for Kelowna, with Surrey looking up from their familiar hole. Though in a hole, no one was ready to give up. Surrey would begin to develop consistently and flow. A penalty gave the Beavers a line out 15 meters from the Crow in goal area. David "Burger" Jefferys received and advanced the ball at the front of the lineout, a couple of phases later Matt Bose would open Surrey's try tally. The sharp angle convert went wide right. It was now, 12-8 for Kelowna with Surrey coming on. A second series of rucking phases and stubborn possession once again put Matt Bose across the line for a huge try, close to halftime, and the Gatto convert gave Surrey the halftime lead at 15-12, having scored 12 unanswered points after allowing 12 unanswered points. The chat at the break focused on one point, go forward! The Beavers were taking a lot of static ball on offence and not making the gain line. Simple movement would be the only adjustment required.
The start of the second half wasn't too old when the Kelowna halftime adjustments found a result when the Crows worked an overlap that was benefitted by Beaver marking errors and Kelowna would score a lead taking try, but the convert would miss. 17-15 for the Crows, Surrey wasn't going to coast to victory. With all the substitutions employed the game had settled down for the bulk of the second half. Brandon Gatto would step up to a penalty kick and got the Beaver lead back by the narrowest of margins at 18-17 for Surrey. The pesky Crows weren't going away as they kicked their own penalty when Surrey was forced into a mistake. 20-18 for Kelowna in what was now a lead swapping slugfest, with punch and counterpunch. That made the next punch Surrey's, which they would throw in the form of another Brandon Gatto penalty kick that again gave the Beavs the one-point lead again at 21-20. There was a lot of tension on the Beaver sideline, agonizing over the narrow lead. As time was running short, Surrey would put together a good patch of forward play, that allowed Matt Bose to wrap up his hat trick of tries with the last try of the day. The Gatto convert was good and the Beaver faithful took a sigh of relief, as the scoreboard showed 28-20 for the visitors from Surrey (who were also somewhat handsome). The 8-point gap provided a modicum of calm. When the final whistle sounded full time, Surrey was relieved and the Seconds had their second win, match the Surrey First Division.
The Seconds have played 5 games this season and in 3 of those games individual players have scored a hat trick of 3 tries. The honors go to Brandon Craig, Andrew McIntyre, and now Matt Bose. None of those were in blow out wins where there was scoreboard padding going on. All the performances were in tight games where the points gained really mattered. With offence apparently not an issue, it seems there is only defensive play left to perfect at the Beaver training sessions.
Next up in Beaver action is on October 26, 2019 when Surrey is back home at Sullivan Heights with the Firsts taking on United and Seconds meeting SFU in the Ruck for the Cure games when YOUR Beavers stand up to cancer by playing hard, auctioning the special jerseys, and a late night Hallowe'en party. The Surrey Beavers Saturday will be a busy one, busy as a..... you know.
Just trying to capture the spirit of the thing.......