The Rowers Reserves weren’t able to put together enough rugby to keep up with Burnaby Lake, falling 19-41 this past Saturday.
The Lakers got on top quick, using a rolling attack and a fluid offload game to make the Rowers defense look wholly unprepared, and stake themselves to a 14-0 lead in the first six minutes.
Angered by the deficit, the Rowers defense put up a few big hits to force Burnaby to attack from the ruck, giving the Rowers defense a chance to find a shape. The hosts’ pattern looked as though it was going to march to a third try in the seventh minute, but a key turnover off of hard contact by centre Shane Xavi O’Sullian got the Rowers their first ball of the game, allowing them to mount a couple of phases, box kick for position, and force a knock on to gain a scrum in Burnaby territory. The Rowers were unable to capitalize on the opportunity, but it appeared to remind them that they were a rugby team, in a rugby game that still had 73 minutes on the clock.
The Rowers pack had trouble early with a strong Burnaby set piece. The Burnaby scrum was able to push the Rowers off of their own ball in what seemed like an excellent opportunity to get on the board at the Burnaby five meter line in the thirteenth minute, then spin it wide to a quick back line to take it the distance and go up 19-0.
Un-deterred, the Rowers were able to keep their intensity and ferocity on defense, forcing the hosts to move the ball in phases, and making a mess of it. Burnaby looked like they were ready to put it away in the 22nd mintue before loose head prop Morgan Smith (in his first game back from a pilgrimage to his homeland for the Australian high holy day) forced an enormous turnover at the Rowers five to keep it a game.
After a few promising first half Rowers attacks were stopped by lost scrums and lineouts, Burnaby’s quest for an early finish was again frustrated by another big rowers turnover, this time by winger Tom Hyams at the Rowers 15 yard line.
After working it back to the 5 yard line, the Rowers pounded phases at a Burnaby defense that seemed like it just wound’t fold, until fly half Oisin Daly used a clever step to make a hole for himself, put it down under the posts and nail the conversion to put his club on the board just before half time. 19-7 Burnaby.
The Rowing Club carried the momentum into the second half. Daly took a pass from the base and broke a tackle to put himself in Burnaby territory in the 45th minute. With no support and the defense closing in, Daly used a greasy grubber kick to put it behind the defense and make a footrace of it, forcing the Burnaby fullback to knock the ball on and force a Rowers scrum at the 5. The Rowers won that scrum cleanly to put quick ball out to the backs and give centre Taureen Sheehan a chance to break a tackle and find paydirt. The conversion was good to put the Rowers in striking distance, 14-19. Daly would leave the game in the 60th minute for a brief trip to Ireland to deal with a family matter. The Rowers Ruck Muck wishes him safe travels and looks forward to his return.
Burnaby would add a penalty kick at the 60th minute to make it 14-22, but the Rowers shook it off. Eighth man and team captain Scyler Dumas ran several strong attack lines for big gains that could have amounted to more, had the support pattern been more consistent. Being only able to form rucks on their own terms after short runs, the VRC Reserves had a frustrating tendency to lose possession on their deepest carries. The Lakers used phase play to ware the Rowers D out and add a try at the 68th minute, making it 14-28.
The Rowers came right back in the 70th minute, winning a scrum and getting it to Sheehan again to break a tackle, this time taking it for a much longer run that looked as though it would pay off, until he was stripped of the ball at the 2. Burnaby used quick hands to get the turnover out wide, and run it back and make it 14-33.
Still, the Rowers Reserves refused to quit. In the seventy second minute, a long run by fullback Max O’Connor put them in business at the 30 yard line, where wily halfback Kent Abbot picked from the base to get through an un-guarded blind side and into the secondary. The support was there this time, and he was able to work a 3 on 2 with “Sunshine” Jack Nerraw and Dumas, who grounded the ball to make it 19-33. Burnaby would add a late try to make it 19-41 in a home victory that the Rowers made them work for.
Scyler Dumas was named man of the match in the forwards by his opposite captain for being “everywhere, like a rash.” “Tacklin’ Tom” Hyams got the man of match nod in the backs.
Coach Chris Seyler said that he was proud of this Reserves side’s effort when they were playing together. “They’re dangerous with the ball in hand, but have to limit mistakes and not take 20 minutes to realize they’re in a game.”
The Reserves will be on the road again next Saturday, travelling to the Island to take on the Castaway Wanderers
Special thanks to Official Ruck Muck Photographer Tiana Paltiel & Chantelle Bracken-Ilich. Stay tuned for more photos later in the week.