It had been 3 weeks since the Beavers had a home game, which seemed even longer with the Thanksgiving holiday bye week included. This weeks guests would be a very strong Squamish Axemen for the 2nd Division and a long waited rematch with Abbotsford RFC for the 1st Division since a convincing Abby win in the first game of the season at Exhibition Park.
SBAA 2nd Div Men vs Squamish Axemen RFC Loss 47-0
Though this was the first time Surrey & Squamish have met at the second division level. Many of the second division players had taken many a lump at the hands of an overmatched Squamish squad in many a third division game.
This game would start well with Andrew McIntyre making a huge break from just outside the Surrey 22 metre line to the opposition 22 metre line where the determined Squamish fullback made a huge tackle nullifying the effort. Unfortunately, this was a regular routine against the Axemen for the Beavers, historically speaking. Surrey had several attempts to score but were stopped by good Squamish defence and often turned back for a score against. Shane Ram, playing at 10, would be knocked out of the game early and the boys had to adjust with no backs left to sub in. With the scrum half - stand off combination ruined the Axemen had much more licence to take advantage of an unproven combo at 9 & 10 for the Beavers and they would do just that. Squamish rolled up 3 trys in the first half, making up ground on phase play and ball retention, Surrey was unable to reply. The second half held more of the same, while the Beavers fought hard, they were simply overmatched on the day. The Axemen would add four trys in the latter half, with their scoring coming from all over the park. A usual stand out was the Squamish fullback who ran counterattacks that sliced through the well intending Surrey backs. The key to staying with the Axemen is to contain this former League professional, which is certainly easier said than done, as he has the ability to shred teams on his own without the need to pass, which frustrated players and spectators alike. Though there were no big long heartbreaker trys against, the Surrey backs did their best in containment, but couldn't get any offence going.
Even in a track meet bludgeoning such as this, there are always some positives to take away. The Beavers front row was competitive against an experienced pack, flankers Mack Allinson & Darian Archer stood out - making several tackles and each played hard for 80 minutes. The 47-0 score for Squamish was something of an accomplishment for Surrey as it is a difficult task keeping the Axemen under 50 points these days. Another character building day for the Beavers.
SBAA 1st Div Men vs Abbotsford RFC Win 27-12
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, this was the first meeting between these two teams since the season opener in Abbotsford that found the home team winning convincingly 46-29. Surrey's Firsts were very focused on the task at hand during the training sessions that led up to the match. League leaders Abby would surely be up for the contest, as the history of this rivalry has remained somewhat warm over the years, though they were down a couple of starters in the time of year when everyone is nicked up somehow. It was going to be interesting to see this episode shake down as the Beavers were out correct the only blemish on their record.
The game began and immediately lived up to billing with Surrey coming out on the front foot and taking the play to the visitors. The two sides were bashing it out with Surrey having the edge in possession and territory. The set pieces, scrums & lineouts, were generally even with the teams winning their own ball. There were a few hard crashes from either side, but the wet stormy day kept the game plan on the conservative side with neither team wanting to knock on in the open field. The Surrey forwards took the game over and dominated in lose play, maintaining the bulk of ball retention.
Soon enough, Paul Kelly at inside centre broke two tackles in scoring first try of the game. The score was an acknowledgment of what kind of game it was going to be. Brandon "The Cat" Gatto was on the mark with the convert. The opening score started things at 7-0 for Surrey. Abbotsford would continue to be challenged by Surrey’s pressure on offence and take a costly penalty that Brandon Gatto stroked to put Surrey up 10-0. A few minutes later Abby again conceded a foul that allowed Gatto to again hit between the sticks and pad the Beavs lead to a two score account with 13-0 for Surrey. The score would hold there when half time blew, but it felt like the Beavers were in full control of the match.
The second half started with Surrey taking their foot off the gas and soon they allowed Abbotsford to score a desperately needed try, finally breaking on defense Abby got the ball down on very tight play out wide, which their kicker well converted from up against the touch line, giving them a boost of energy and tightening the tally to 13-7 for Surrey, who were now feeling some pressure of their own. Abby kept coming and had the Beavs on the back foot when they exercised their option and scored a follow up try. The Beavers defended multiple scrums in their own 15 metre corner. The scrum gave way to the pressure and gave up the major. The corresponding convert was shy from a hard angle and allowed Surrey to maintain the narrowest of leads at 13-12 for Surrey. Just in the knick of time the Beavers would wake up and rally back with series of solid play that resulted in Alex Martin taking off for a ramble that answered the Abby question with a reply in the form of a try. Gatto stepped up to the convert and made that kick too. Surrey gained some breathing room with the score at 20-12 for the Beavers. The two sides banged away at each other at a saw off for a prolonged period of time when Surrey would get creative with a kick pass that was hauled in by Riley Johnson who then managed the rest of the effort with an athletic effort and put down the final score of the match. Gatto stepped up to another convert and nailed it. The Surrey lead was reinforced at a commanding 27-12 for Surrey. The Beavers had put in a really good shift for their most consistent effort of the season, notwithstanding the let down at the start of the second half. Most importantly they righted the ship from their only loss, in the first game of the season, and served notice to Abbotsford that they would be in for a good race this season.
Just trying to capture the spirit of the thing.......