Bayside Sharks fall to Vikes in opener

Late try gives South Surrey-based team a bonus point in CDI Premier Rugby League standings.

It wasn’t exactly the start to the season they’d hoped for, but the Bayside Sharks still salvaged a point Saturday in Victoria, in their first game of the CDI Premier Rugby League.

The men’s premier rugby side dropped a 43-24 decision to the University of Victoria Vikes, but picked up a point in the loss thanks to a try from captain Pat Bickerton just seconds before the final whistle; the try gave the team four, enough for a bonus point.

Bickerton had two tries in the contest, and Gurvinder Kalar also had two. Graham Rogers chipped in with two conversions.

Bayside’s final two tries came in the game’s last 10 minutes, with Bickerton’s bonus-point-achieving score coming after the Sharks’ had some extended pressure on the young, talented Vikes.

“We were just able to retain possession for awhile, and we just kept knocking them backwards, and then after some good phases, Pat was able to punch it in,” Sharks head coach Pat Kearney explained.

“It definitely wasn’t a complete 80-minute performance, but we were really happy we were able to keep battling to get that point,” said

The team that finishes last in the eight-team premier circuit will likely be relegated to first division, Kearney said, assuming the top first-division team wants to move up to premier. It’s a situation Bayside found itself in after the 2011 season, when they finished last.

And it’s why Kearney and his squad put so much emphasis on gaining the bonus point when it became clear midway through the game that the Vikes were going to win.

“This is the league we want to stay in, so every point is very important, and we worked hard for it, even though the (overall) result wasn’t what we wanted,” the coach said.

“Eighth out of eight is not where we plan on being but we can’t worry about that stuff. We just have to go out and play.

The Sharks are among the younger sides in the premier league this spring – “Our average age is 23 or 24,” Kearney said – and they’ll be without star standoff, and former premier-league leading scorer, Peter Clifford, who has returned home to the U.K.

“He’s there for a stint, but I expect we’ll see him back in Bayside colours one day,” Kearney predicted.

“It’s not a great situation for us, because Pete is a very unique player, but it’s just up to the next man in line to step up and play. We’re just moving forward.”

Bayside’s first-division men’s team also lost to the Vikes last weekend, falling 63-5.

“UVic’s program has a lot of depth, a lot of good young players,” Kearney said.

The 0-1 premier Sharks, currently in seventh after one week of play, will look to get their first win of the season Saturday when they travel to Vancouver to take on the eighth-place UBC Old Boys.

“This is one we’ve identified as a winnable game, and it’s one that we need to win,” Kearney said. “As long as we play our game, hopefully that’ll be enough.”

Kickoff is at 2:45 p.m. at Jericho Park.