For the second year in a row, the Bayside Sharks U16 boys are champions of B.C.’s rugby scene.
The Sharks, who won a provincial title as U15s last fall, capped their second straight winning season with a 15-12 win over Capilano in the provincial championship game Sunday at South Surrey Athletic Park.
Bayside got off to what head coach Andy Blackburn called “a dream start,” as the home team jumped out to a first-half lead thanks to a pair of early tries – the first from flanker, and eventual man-of-the-match, Liam Wilson, and the second from scrumhalf Gavin Rowell – and the Sharks controlled the play for most of the game’s early stages.
“Capilano did not see the ball for the opening 10 minutes,” Blackburn said.
Rowell extended Bayside’s lead to 15-0 soon after, with a penalty kick.
As the clock on the first half ticked down, Capilano began to find its game, as its bigger forwards tried to wear down the smaller Sharks’ forwards.
The North Vancouver side scored its first try before halftime, and got another with 10 minutes left in the game to make it 15-12.
As Capilano pushed for the go-ahead try in the game’s waning moments, Bayside players held them at bay, “making tackle upon tackle to the point of exhaustion,” according to Blackburn.
After the game, Blackburn heaped praise upon a handful of key players, including Andrew O’Connor, Gordon Dobson and Carson Burgin, who Blackburn said “were immense in their containment of the speedy Capilano backs.”
He also credited captain Christian Haldane, lock Drew Coles and Wilson for leading the Sharks to the win.
With another B.C. title under their belts, the U16 crew is now preparing for a trip to Las Vegas in February, where they’ll compete in a three-day tournament against top U.S. competition.
The U16 boys team was not the only Bayside junior team to have success this fall.
Though there is no playoff format at the U13/14 level, the Sharks boys team dominated their seven-a-side league for much of the season, while two other teams, the U15 boys and U18 girls, both play for provincial titles this weekend, as is the Sharks’ U19 boys team, which is set to battle for a B.C. Tier 2 title.
Bayside’s U17 boys team finished second overall, losing the title game last week.