Win draws Bayside Sharks even

Bayside ball-carrier Caden Taylor sheds a tackle in U19 rugby action against Langley Saturday at South Surrey Athletic Park. - Gord Goble photo
Bayside ball-carrier Caden Taylor sheds a tackle in U19 rugby action against Langley Saturday at South Surrey Athletic Park.
— image credit: Gord Goble photo

Two weeks into their return to the CDI Premier Rugby League, the Bayside Sharks’ top men’s team sits with a .500 record.

On Saturday, the Sharks edged the UBC Old Boys 24-17 at South Surrey Athletic Park to earn their first win.

In Bayside’s opening game – held Sept. 15 in North Vancouver against defending champions Capilano – the Sharks started well, but a good start did not beget a strong finish, as the Peninsula men’s side fell 32-6.

“It’s really good to be back in the premier league,” said Bayside head coach Pat Kearney.

“The guys had a really good break (in the summer), and some of them really needed it, but we’re back and ready to go.”

Last season, the Sharks’ top men’s team played in Tier 2 rather than premier – they were relegated due to their performance a year prior – but made the most of the temporary demotion, placing second in the division after losing the title game to the Vancouver Rowing Club, 36-24. The Sharks also won the regular-season title, thus ensuring a return to the premier level this season.

This year, the team is without former captain Jay Blaak, who is out for the season due to injury, but in his place, Pat Bickerton takes over the captaincy.

“Jay’s a big loss for us – he’s been a staple of the Bayside program for a long, long time now,” Kearney said. “Pat is definitely the veteran of the team now, but he’s got a ton of Canadian international experience.”

Against the Old Boys Saturday, the Sharks held a slim 9-5 lead at halftime thanks to the foot of Pete Clifford, who had two penalty kicks and a drop-goal.

In the second half, Bayside continued to press, and got tries from Adam Timler and Gurvinder Kalar, while Clifford added a convert and another penalty kick.

“Pete is definitely going to be in the scoring-leader race in the premier league again this year,” Kearney said.

“And with him and Cody Rockson at scrum half, I think that gives us one of the best No. 9-10 combos in the entire league. Between those two guys, they really control the pace of the game for us.”

While Saturday’s effort was far better than the performance in Week 1, Kearney said there was still plenty of room for improvement as the schedule goes forward.

“Against Capilano in the opener, we only played about 38 minutes of good rugby,” Kearney said.

“And last week, it wasn’t exactly a dominant 80 minutes, but it was good enough to get the win. We’re happy to get out with four points.”

Prior to the premier-league contest, the Sharks’ first-division squad defeated the UBC Old Boys’ Div. 1 team, 48-7. And in U19 tier 1 action, Bayside lost 13-12 to the same club. In a Tier 2 U19 game, Bayside defeated Langley 34-12.

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