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Henderson leads Sharks to win over Abbotsford

The Bayside Sharks got off to a slower start than they would have liked Saturday in their B.C. CDI Premier Rugby League tilt against Abbotsford, but four tries from Brodie Henderson helped lead the Peninsula side to a 38-15 victory.

“He’s just a world-class player – he’s played for Canada, played professionally, and he’s just an amazing athlete,” said Bayside premier head coach David Benoit of Henderson, his veteran wing.

“Some of those (tries) were individual efforts, and some of them were because of good work by the rest of the team.”

Peter Clifford converted all five Bayside tries in the game, while also adding a penalty kick of his own.

The game, played at South Surrey Athletic Park, was the first for both the Sharks and Abby since the premier league split into two groups for the final month of the year, with teams near the bottom of the table dropping into the first division.

Benoit left the game impressed with Abbotsford, who are at the premier level for the first time in years.

“They were good. They’re well coached, organized and they don’t give up – they go hard right until the final whistle,” he said. “They’re just lacking some of the top-end athletes that we’ve got, and eventually, those athletes just take over.”

But despite Henderson’s heroics, Benoit was still concerned with his team’s propensity for starting the game poorly. Though they never trailed Saturday against Abbotsford, Bayside didn’t get on the board until Henderson scored a try at the 25-minute mark, and their Fraser Valley rivals tied the game 7-7 just five minutes later.

“We’re just slow starters and I can’t figure out why, but it can’t continue,” Benoit said, adding that the team has changed a number of pre-game routines in order to spark the club in the opening minutes.

The Sharks play their final home game of the season Saturday against visiting James Bay – who are 14-0 since last September – and Benoit knows another slow start will likely mean a loss for his club.

“James Bay isn’t going to just score one try, they’re going to get two or three, so we can’t afford (to fall behind early),” he said.

Though James Bay is undefeated over the last 14 games, Benoit said his team is still confident they can beat them – like they did two years ago in South Surrey.

“They’re one of the best teams in the BCRU (B.C. Rugby Union), but it gives us some confidence, knowing we’ve beat them before,” he said. “We’re our own worst enemy sometimes, making so many basic mistakes, and those are momentum sappers.

“But if we play smart, there’s no question we can beat them.”