Bayside Sharks aiming for provincial title

Pair of South Surrey men's rugby squads will battle Vancouver Rowing Club this weekend in North Vancouver.

A pair of Bayside Sharks men’s rugby teams have a chance for a B.C. sweep this weekend, when the club’s first and second division sides each square off against the Vancouver Rowing Club in provincial finals.

And while the Sharks may have lost home-field advantage for the finals due to a scheduling change – the games were moved from South Surrey Athletic Park to North Van’s Klahanie Park to align with the third-division championship – Pat Kearney, head coach of both first and second division squads, isn’t too concerned about location, just the final score.

“It would’ve been nice to play at home, sure, but we’ll not too worried about it,” he said. “We’ll play anybody, anywhere, at any time. Our guys will play in the parking lot, we don’t care.”

The Sharks’ Div. 1 team had a first-round playoff bye last week, by virtue of finishing first during the regular season; they actually tied the Rowers with a 7-2 record, but had the tie-breaker advantage. The two teams also split the season series 1-1.

Bayside’s first-place showing also earned them the lone open spot in the premier league this fall, which is why Kearney figures this weekend’s Div. 1 title tilt will be a hotly contested affair.

“I’m sure they aren’t too happy about not making the premier league, so I expect they’ll come out looking to send a message to both (premier and first division) leagues,” he said.

“It’s going to be a tough game, and I don’t think there’s a favourite – it’s a toss-up, for sure.”

That said, Kearney is confident the Sharks will be able to draw on their regular-season experience, specifically a 50-26 win at Stanley Park’s Brockton Oval in late March.

“We definitely played our best game of the season in that one,” he said. “So we’re fully confident, but it’ll just come down to 80 minutes of rugby, and who shows up.”

The Vancouver Rowing Club’s first division team advanced to finals after a 42-16 win over Seattle last weekend.

In Div. 2 action, it was the Rowers with the first-round bye, with Bayside having to defeat Richmond 16-15 last Saturday to earn a spot in the title game. One negative for the Sharks is that Jesse Train, who has played for both the first- and second-division Sharks teams this spring, will miss the provincial finals after suffering a broken wrist in last weekend’s Div. 2 game against Richmond.

“It’s not good – he was scheduled for surgery (this week), I think,” Kearney said. “But we did have the week off (from Div. 1) so a lot of the guys probably enjoyed being able to walk without pain last Sunday, so they’ll be ready this weekend.”

A win for the Div. 1 side would be the first provincial title – at any level – in recent memory for Bayside’s top men’s team, Kearney said.

“When we got relegated (from the premier league last fall), it was our goal to make it back to the premier league, which we did. Now, it’s time for us to put another checkmark on the list by finishing first.

“‘It’s time to win some trophies.”

The Div. 2 final is slated to begin at Klahanie Park at 1 p.m. Saturday, while the Div. 1 game begins at 3 p.m.

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