The Rowing Club Premier Reserve squad lost 44-14 to Burnaby Lake on the road Saturday in a high motor game that ended up being the Red and White’s best performance on the day in terms of offensive production.
A very tight Burnaby team were able to minimize mistakes and work as a unit, often forcing the Rowing Club to make spectacular plays through individual efforts.
Burnaby drew first blood in the fourth minute with a penalty, added a try in the seventh minute, then consecutive tries in the 13th and 18th minutes. to go up 22-0.
New Irish import Miighty Okafor was able to make big yards in the first half on the wing, the big runner showing the Burnaby crowd how hard he was to drop. Tight head prop Gregory Crowe had a few of his characteristic long carries up the middle, but the offense couldn’t re-set pattern quick enough to build on their success against a very quick Burnaby defense who worked well off of turnover ball.
Veteran Rowers hooker Ryan Chapman put the VRC on the board in the 26th minute, and new Kiwi import fullback Cody Fell slotted the conversion. Burnaby tried to strike back, taking advantage of a Rowing Club handling error late in the half, one of their quicker runners carrying from his own 30, across the center line and well into Rowers territory with a good head of steam, well ahead of the pursuit, before Okafor was able to close the gap, disrupt the offload attempt himself and recover the ball, preserving the 22-7 score before half time.
Turnovers hurt the Rowers in wet conditions, and only by virtue of strong defense was the margin of loss not greater. Flanker “Sunshine” Jack Neraw led the team in tackles, many behind the gain line. His fellow Nelson, BC product flanking the other side of the scrum, Ray Bissonette had the second most.
When the Reserves were patient with the ball, they made yards. Some intelligent, hard-charging attacks from the centers,notably “Disco” Stu Holland, wore the Burnaby D back and crucially kept posession until rookie Welsh winger Matt Rowland finally found the end goal in the 54th minute.
In the 70th minute, the rains came; the on and off shower that had wet the game all morning turning into a steady downpour and reminding the Rowers that this wasn’t ever going to be easy. Methodically, Burnaby was able to exploit positioning and handling mistakes to score tries in the 74th and 77th minute to close out a wet 44-14 Rowers loss in the mud.
Coach Chris Seyler noted that his team played well despite losing “talismanic” leader and fly half Oisin Daly to a lower body injury the morning of the game. “The Reserves played well and showed real determination but due to the poor weather handling errors curbed any go forward ball.”
The Reserves face arch rival Capilano RFC next week at home.