The Rowers premier side lost at home Saturday 46-19 in a gutsy performance that, in the end, just wasn’t tight enough.

The defense held up early on, as the visiting Lakers pounded away at the VRC goal line in the 8th minute, but were unable to get across initially. The Rowers were able to turn it over and kick an exit, only to have Burnaby field it cleanly, run a counter-attack into space, using offload ball to keep the attack moving and draw first blood in the tenth minute, making it 7-0 after the conversion.

Danny O’Brian scoops one off the deck. O’Brian had two tries for the Rowers Saturday

The Rowers’ strong defense continued in their own end, as second row forward Kelly Anderson laid a hit on a ball carrier inside his own ten that drew a reaction from the Rowers spectators. They were disappointed seconds later as halfback Dominic Howard drew a yellow card for… something or other. Burnaby added three points on the ensuing penalty to go up 10-0 in the 32nd minute.

The home side came close to getting some points back on the restart as new prems fullback William Feeny, fresh off a flight from Australia, was able to take the ball at pace and carry it 40 yards up the wing, shifting the shape of the defense, and eventually being dropped by a cover tackle a yard short of the goal line.

Burnaby Lake spent the final three minutes of the half attacking with purpose and using strong support lines to keep the ball moving with offloads on their way to three tries and a 24-0 lead at half time.

But the Rowers refused to quit at home. In the 53rd minute, the prems set a ‘five and drive’ off of the lineout, recycled the ball three times until tighthead prop Eddie Quinn had his forward momentum stopped short of the goal line. Keeping his feet, Quinn was able to offload to substitute back-row forward Danny O’Brian, who charged ahead to put one down past the line and get the Rowers on the board. 29-5.

O’Brian struck again five minutes later as the Rowers improvised after a broken play, picking one off the deck to preserve the momentum and take advantage of a scattered Burnaby defense. The try made it 29-12 after a successful conversion.

The highly contentious game featured several yellow cards and offsetting reds late in the second half. Rowers 8th man Colin Cooper and a Burnaby player were both sent off with reds following a dust-up that erupted after Rowers Center Jason W-R chased down former Rower Jason Kelly, but was unable to tackle the Burnaby hooker that prevented him from grounding the ball.

Howard was able to put in a late try to narrow the final deficit to 52-19.

The Jack-O send off

The Premier Reserves fixture this past Saturday featured what may be the final game in red and white for popular winger Jack O’Sullivan, who will be returning to his native Ireland. “Jack-O” gave the home crowd something to cheer for in the tenth minute, scooping up an opposition knock on and finding space up the middle, breaking at least one tackle and out-pacing the Burnaby pursuit to get the Rowers on the board first. 5-0.

“Jack O’Saka,” shown here holding a green dinosaur and possibly singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” in Tokyo this past October, will be missed at the Rowing Club.

Both veteran scrum half Chris Nolan and new Rower fly half Tim Sippel added tries, Nolan on his patented snake through an unguarded post, followed by a 15 yard dash through the smallest cracks in the Burnaby defense, Sippel chasing down a loose ball in the end goal.

The Reserves would end up coming up short Saturday 54-12.

Match photos Tiana Paltiel, photo of the World Cup Tokyo street party, Kelly Eglisson.

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