For the second consecutive week the BCRU chose to separate the Surrey Beavers First and Second Divisions, when the Firsts were scheduled to play a Premier Reserve match. To compound issue the Firsts were to play Meraloma at Connaught Park in Vancouver and the Seconds were to take on the Brit-Lions in Delta with identical 12:45 start times. The Brit-Lions ended up being extremely generous in the availability of the field and bumped the Seconds start time to 11:15. So a few of the substitutes could make the start of the Firsts game and the rest would be there for half time.
2nd Div Men vs Brit Lions RFC – Loss 25-8
The weather cracked just before warm-up on this blustery Saturday and umbrellas were closed and rain gear was peeled, on the side lines a pair of sunglasses was seen - but that was just suspended player Cam McMurchy-Barber hiding his blood shot eyes.
The match started with Surrey maintaining the edge in territory. After a few minutes the Brits turned the tables and drove back to the Beaver 32 metre area, when Surrey took their first penalty of possible
consequence, resulting in a shot at goal by the Brits. Happily, the attempt was wide left and no harm done. With constant pressure by the Brits it wasn’t long before another penalty was called on the Beavs, this time from approximately 23 metres, which seemed considerably more concerning. However, Surrey watched it sail wide right. The Brits were counter rucking on Surrey and when the Beaver forwards were challenged to get to many breakdowns, this allowed poaching opportunities. The Brit forwards were grinding down the Beavers forwards that resulted in a penalty on Surrey, this time near 15 metres from their own goal. The Brits chose a scrum, and after winning their ball they would out ruck Surrey across the goal line for the first score of the match. The convert failed, unsurprisingly, and the Brits led 5-0. The Beavers got up off the deck and had a run of play of their own. Surrey forced the Brits into taking a penalty 25 metres from the Brits sticks. Nathan Hutchinson made the kick and the Beavs were on the board and in the game, but it was still 5-3 for the Brits. In the last 10 minutes before the half Surrey would lose composure and allow the Brits to score when several players were involved in a fracas on the opposite side of the field. The convert was again missed, leaving 10 points on the table, but the Brits lead was extended to 10-3. The lack of an effective kicker on the Brits part kept this game somewhat unnaturally close. It wasn’t long before the Brits would do the deed again and score another try after a series of rucks and runs. The convert again failed, and the score stood at 15-3 for the Brits at the half.
At halftime substitutions were made and 3 starters went into Vancouver to back up the Firsts. The Surrey players who started the second half were looking tired out of the break, when the Brits authored a try with runs and offloads that the Beavers couldn’t defend. The convert was yet again shy of the mark, with the certainty of death & taxes. The Brits took a commanding but not insurmountable lead at 20-3. It wasn’t long until the Brits would score another major using a series of sustained ball possession. The convert was missed, 25-3 for the Brits would be a tall hill to climb for the Seconds. Surrey would manage a bit of a rally when their forwards were able to maintain a chain of possession that resulted in a ground out try by Ryan Kulasekare, who is still on the comeback trail after suffering a torn Achilles tendon last season. The Beavers convert would be short from a sharp angle. The score was 25-8 for the Brits with Surrey showing signs of life. These ‘signs of life’ went weaker when Aaron Solomonsz was assessed a yellow card for a high tackle and hopes were being necessitated when moments later a Brit player would receive a card of their own. The two sides went to 14v14 for several minutes with no scoring. With six minutes left an unfortunate situation occurred when the Brit stand off ran at Andrew McIntyre. Andrew got his 6’5” frame lowered for a text book tackle, when the #10 fell over Andrew’s shoulder and the Brit’s feet swung up suddenly. McIntyre immediately realized the ball carrier was in a bad position in the air and backed off the tackle. The stocky stand off was a hand full, literally, and Andrew lost his grip him as he was parallel to the ground at waist height. The robust #10 would fall to the ground landing on his shoulder. The referee immediately blew the play dead and assessed McIntyre a red card. Though the referee indicated in his subsequent report that the Brit player was unhurt, and the incident appeared to be just an unfortunate circumstance. Overall, I’d say a very unfortunate circumstance. The Beavers finished with 14 players, but the score still ended at 25-8 for the Brits.
1st Div Men vs Meraloma – Win 49-17
After driving like hell from southern North Delta, following the Seconds game, into deepest darkest Kitsilano, I arrived just before halftime when Surrey was up 21-3 on a try by Giuseppe Lagrutta after a series of runs, with a good convert by Brandon “The Cat” Gatto making the opening effort 7-0 for Surrey. The Beavers would score again with the talented Jamie Beaton taking advantage of a Meraloma miscue. The Gatto kick was solid, 14-0 for Surrey. The Lomas would get some skin in the game with a penalty kick taking the donut off their hard to read scoreboard. 14-3 for Surrey. This breach would invigorate the Beavers and Riley Johnson scored a try from a pass from Jamie Beaton, and with the Gatto convert the Beavers took a commanding lead at halftime on a Meraloma squad that wasn’t showing much. 21-3 for Surrey.
The second half started with the same pattern. Jamie Beaton scored a try from a penalty that was scrummaged and rucked across the goal line, Gatto’s convert was solid. 28-3 Surrey. The Lomas did put together an effort and managed to score a try from a Beaver penalty, a line out, and a driving maul. Their convert was made, 28-10 for Surrey still, but the Lomas were showing momentum. Next up for Surrey was Clay ‘The Beast’ Ross who took the ball from 35 metres out and fought off several tackles for another Beaver try. The ‘money’ foot of Brandon Gatto pumped the score to 35-10. The Surrey backs were really opening the Lomas backs. James Bailey showed his flair and burned a 40 metre try after receiving some off-load ball, that went from Clay Ross, to Iain Small, to Riley Johnson, to James’ secure hands and explosive speed. It was 42-10 for Surrey and the track meet was on, literally! Moments later James Bailey peeled off another 40 metre try, after receiving a fine pass from Clay Ross after Clay’s 20 metre run. The flawless convert put the score at 49-10 for a hard thumpin’ bunch of Beavers. The Lomas weren’t quite dead yet and managed another score the same as their first score. A penalty that went for a line out, that was mauled and driven into a ruck just before touching down, and they made the convert, 49-17 for Surrey who weren’t too concerned as they were in complete control. This was borne out again when the Beavers rucked and rolled up the pitch and Ryan Mitchell finished the play with his try. The missed convert with an insurmountable lead was not of concern as the angle and uphill grade were the only hint of a blemish in the kicking game. The final whistle soon sounded on the crushing 54-17 Surrey win.
The question was asked, What’s big, black, and hard? The answer on this day was the impressive dominant play of the Surrey Beavers First Division Team. This was fantastic effort that swiped at the up turned noses in the Vancouver rugby aristocracy and gave notice that these Surrey Beavers were far more than the poor valley club trying to compete. Surrey posted notice on the Meraloma scoreboard.
Just trying to capture the spirit of the thing.....