Bayside women's teams aim for rugby championships

The Bayside Sharks will be taking aim at a pair of women’s rugby titles this weekend, as both the club’s U18 and senior teams get set to hit the pitch.

The U18 Sharks are set to take on Abbotsford in the B.C. final Sunday, while on Saturday, the senior Sharks will battle with a familiar foe, Burnaby Lake for the Anna Schnell Cup, awarded to the Lower Mainland Tier 1 champion. Sunday’s game starts at 10 a.m. at Abbotsford's Rotary Stadium, while a time and location for the senior game was still to-be-determined by Peace Arch News’ press deadlines Wednesday afternoon.

For the senior team, the title tilt is a chance for redemption. Last year, Burnaby Lake – the No. 2-ranked team in regular season, just behind the Sharks – edged Bayside 6-0 in the finals, and have had the South Surrey team’s number for the better part of a decade. The Sharks did beat them in regular-season action, 29-22, earlier this fall, however.

“I think that was the first time we’d beat them in about 12 years, and after losing in last year’s final, we really don’t want to lose to them again,” said Bayside coach Kyle Ferguson.

Since beating Burnaby in October, Bayside has reeled off wins over Meralomas, 37-5, and United Rugby Club (Coquitlam), 32-12, to finish atop the Lower Mainland Tier 1 standings with a perfect 6-0 record. In semifinals last week, they cruised to a 37-0 shutout win over SFU.

“It was a pretty good game. We scored some points early and just kept rolling,” Ferguson said.

In semifinals, the team was without a few key starters due to injury, but Ferguson expects to have close to a full roster available for Saturday’s championship game.

“We have some who should be coming back, so hopefully that gives us a bit of a boost,” he said.

And though the Sharks won their most recent battle with Burnaby Lake, Ferguson said his team – which he described as “confident, but not cocky” – expects as tough a game as they’ve had all season.

“Burnaby is just, overall, a very good team, and they have been for awhile. They’re well-drilled, well-coached – they don’t make a lot of mistakes,” he said. “So when they do make a mistake, you have to capitalize, because you can be pretty sure they’re going to do the same to you.”

In U18 action, Bayside arrives in the B.C. final after a low-scoring 5-0 win over Cowichan on Nov. 18.

Their opponents from Abbotsford, meanwhile, earned their berth in the title contest after a 26-10 win over Capilano-Burnaby in the other semifinal game.

Like their senior teammates, the U18s will also be looking for a little redemption, having lost in the last two provincial finals.

“Third time’s the charm, right?” laughed U18 manager Sandra Rijken.

The U18 Sharks are 4-1 this season, and are playing well heading into this weekend’s action, Rijken said.

“We’ve had a really great season so far. It’s going to be a good, hard-fought game, but the girls are excited.”

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