Bayside Sharks Tovery Diener (right) pulls down a Kamloops ball-carrier during Saturday’s women’s first-division rugby game at John Oliver Park. Bayside won the game 23-17. (Jenny Van Yperen photo)

Bayside Sharks stay undefeated with ‘double points’ win

South Surrey-based women’s rugby squad edges visiting Kamloops in first-division play

The Bayside Sharks are swimming alone at the top of BC Rugby Union’s Div. 1 women’s standings, after holding off the Kamloops Rugby Club Saturday to keep an undefeated streak intact.

The Sharks won the contest 23-17 at John Oliver Park in Delta, improving their record to a perfect 9-0-0 (win-lose-draw). They’re five points ahead of the second-place Abbotsford Rugby Club, and the only undefeated side on the 11-team circuit, “and we wanted to stay that way” heading into Saturday’s tilt, said Bayside’s Radhika Sikhakhane.

“It’s really cool (to stay undefeated), but it was also really stressful,” said Sharks head coach Liam Beaulieu.

“They were super tough, and it went back-and-forth a lot… we were expecting a tough one, and everyone really stepped up.”

In addition to wanting to extend their unblemished record, the game was even more important in the standings, as it was a “double points” game – meaning it counted for two wins, rather than one.

The two sides were supposed to play against each other during the fall portion of the schedule, but the game was postponed due to weather. Rather than try to reschedule the game, the two teams agreed to make Saturday’s count for two.

“There was a lot riding on the game,” said Sikhakhane. “A loss would have been really disheartening for all us players.”

Though the Sharks have cruised through much of their season – a week before the Kamloops showdown, they defeated the Naniamo Hornets 59-0 – Kamloops presented the Semiahmoo Peninsula squad with a challenge. They’re currently sixth in the standings, and had a record above .500 before Saturday’s loss. As well, they entered the game against Bayside on a four-game win streak of their own, with two of those wins coming against the division’s better teams – Abbotsford and Meralomas.

“We really came together as a team, everyone played with a lot of heart and left it all on the field,” said Sikhakhane.

“I think Kamloops really pushed us as a team to play our best game and that’s what translated on the field.”

Beaulieu said the game was a good test for his group, and will help the team prepare for tougher contests moving forward, including in the playoffs.

“It’s different when you are used to winning some games by 20 or 30 points,” he said. “But everyone stayed composed, and it was just a really good team win.”

The Sharks are now off the pitch for a few weeks, and don’t return to league play until a Feb. 24 road game against Simon Fraser RC. Kickoff is 11:15 a.m. in Burnaby.

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