As far as warmup games go, the Bayside Sharks’ premier men’s division tilt against Meralomas Saturday was about as good as it gets.
The Sharks, playing with a veteran-laden squad, whipped the ‘Lomas by an 80-11 score in the afternoon tilt, led by a 25-point effort from Peter Clifford, who had one try and 10 conversions.
“That’s not a typo,” insisted Bayside coach Pat Kearney, when the subject of the game’s lopsided score was brought up.
“But Meralomas has already qualified for the premier season, so they didn’t have a lot of their guys out… that wasn’t a premier team we were playing.”
Quality of opponent notwithstanding, Kearney was not about to apologize for the margin of victory.
“We will take a 70-point win every day. So many players got points for us, it was really hard to keep track, but it was a great Saturday. We’re clicking, and our confidence is high.”
In addition to Clifford’s point spree – “That should help him out in the scoring (race),” Kearney understated – Bayside also had a three-try performance from first-year Shark Karesi Ledue, a newcomer to the Peninsula by way of Fiji, where he was a late cut of that country’s national team.
“We’re extremely excited to have him with us,” Kearney said.
Because games against pre-qualified premier league teams – like Meralomas – don’t count in the standings for teams attempting to qualifiy, as Bayside is, the match essentially meant little in the grand scheme of things.
But it still served as a boost for the Sharks, whose first “real” game is this Saturday, in North Vancouver against Capilano, who are also battling for one of the final two spots in the spring’s premier circuit.
Last year, Bayside edged Capilano for the final spot, and Kearney knows the North Van crew will have revenge on their minds.
“I’m sure they haven’t forgotten about that,” he said. “And they want in the premier league just as bad as we do, so it’s going to be a tough game.
“The first two wins were nice, but we’ve got the biggest game of the season coming up. The guys have had this one marked on the calendar for awhile.”
Though Bayside is one of the B.C. Rugby Union squads still looking for a berth in the premier league – five qualified by virtue of their performance last spring – Kearney thinks they’re a team to be reckoned with, as evidenced by their 2-0 record this fall. In their fall season-opener, they beat UBC Old Boys.
“I don’t think there’s too many teams that want to play Bayside anymore, after how well we’ve played these last two weeks,” Kearney said.
“We’re trying to make a statement – we don’t just want in to the premier league, we want to win the whole thing.”
The Sharks’ Div. 1 team also had success against Meralomas, beating their Vancouver rivals 35-0 before the game was called at halftime.
“They were using a lot of their players in both games, so we only played half so they wouldn’t (get tired),” Kearney said.