BROCKTON OVAL – The VRC Top side was not able to overcome a slow start, losing at home to the Bayside Sharks 35-31.
With the Rowers already down 7-0 late in the first half, a big fast Bayside #7, pressing hard in D, was able to get a hold of a VRC pass and run quicker than any man that size ought to be able to and double the visitors lead to 14-0 after the conversion hit. Rowing Club wingers Brett Lucas and Kevin Gurniak both gave chase but couldn’t catch up until it was too late. The Rowers looked unable to make anything work in the first half on either side of the ball. Tackles were too high (with the notable exception of Gurniak, who stuck opponents in open field all day).
It got worse for the 1st div in the second stanza. They didn’t have an answer for a sharp Bayside attack, and went down 19-7, 24-7, 29-7 before finally making an attack work with ball in hand.
The Biggest Kiwi
Second Row forward Kelly Anderson was breaking tackles with characteristic long strides and the type of one-handed carrying that gives coaches nightmares (but somehow never seems to loose the ball), for several long carries including one for a try in the corner. Centre Brian Derham hit a difficult conversion in a low line drive that looked like nothing, his 2nd of 4 on the day + 1 penalty, to make it 14-29
The Irish Jig
This blog would like to acknowledge the unorthodox and effective kicking style of VRC centre and frequent man-of-the-match Brian Derham. When kicking for points, Derham lines up and does some kind of unconventional, in-place step routine that sets the opposing defense after him on the chase.
In what might be described as an open-armed welcoming of the blocking rush, Derham approaches with slow, smooth strides and uses a weird strike to bang off a low-trajectory bullet that is seemingly always close to being blocked and almost never misses, even from difficult angles.
Derham was instrumental in the Rowing Club’s near-comeback, executing a huge cover tackle at his own goal line, immediately followed by a high-motor boot-and-chase with Kevin Gurniak that recovered the ball and gave substitute 8th man George Richmond an opportunity to rumble about 10 yards for a try in the corner. 17-32.
High Tension Late
A victim of quick Bayside execution in the first half, The Rowers’ fitness and staying power started to show in the 2nd half. The pack moved the ball a good 10 yards in their own end on a maul off of the lineout that drew Bayside in tight, allowing the Rowers to spin it wide and get it to Gurniak for a try in the corner, converted by Brian Derham to make it 24-32.
It nearly fell apart after Bayside missed a penalty and pounced on it in the end-goal. The knock on preceding the grounding of the ball was only observed after the referee had a conference with the touch judges. Frustrated, the Sharks conceded another penalty in their own end and gave Brian Derham an opportunity to hit another penalty and make it 31-32.
Bayside was able to get that one back, though. Down 31-35 with few minutes left, the Rowing Club needed a try.
Not Meant To Be
For a minute it looked like they might get it. The attack hadn’t lost pace and were able to make yards into visiting territory with good pace. But a poorly timed knock on with no minutes left gave Bayside the put in on a scrum. Even with a fresh set of props, the VRC scrum wasn’t able to push a strong, heavy Sharks pack off their ball. Bayside kicked it out to seal the win, and an excited Rowers sideline got quiet.
The loss puts the Rowers 1sts record at 9-4, 2nd behind the 12-1-1 Surrey Beavers, and still ahead of 7-3-2 Bayside.
The Rowers 1st div plays their next game March 24 vs. Langley at Brockton.
All game photos by Sharon Holland