For the first time since the men’s elite rugby season began a month ago, the Bayside Sharks suffered a loss.
Saturday at South Surrey Athletic Park, the Sharks – who are 3-1 on the season – dropped a 33-19 decision to Abbotsford, and fell from second-place to fourth in the BC Rugby Union Elite Spray League standings.
“It wasn’t our best day, that’s for sure. We just came out really flat, fell behind early, and it’s tough to bounce back from something like that, even if it’s in the first 15 minutes,” Bayside coach Pat Kearney said.
“I don’t know what went wrong, really. We had a good week (of practice) – we’d made it pretty clear how important this game was, but it was just a flat day.
“We’ve definitely got some work to do.”
Abbotsford jumped on the Sharks right off the bat, and led 19-0 by halftime, and though Bayside climbed back and outscored their Fraser Valley opponents in the second half, they didn’t have enough in the tank to win.
“Abbotsford’s a team that hasn’t been in the premier league for a few years, but they’ve got some good, young players coming up, and that’s pretty much who beat us,” Kearney said.
“They scored on two set plays early, and that was it.
“We got beat out wide, definitely, and I don’t want to make excuses, but without Chase (Sereda, who was injured a week earlier) at inside-centre, we started two new guys, and we definitely got exposed there a little bit.”
Kearney was not about to pin the loss on the centre position, however.
He cited an inability to execute set plays, and a lack of discipline – “We took 16, 17 penalties,” he said – as other reasons for the loss.
“It was a collective group of errors,” he said.
Cass Conkin scored two tries for the Sharks, and Keaton Styles added one. Peter Clifford – still the top scorer in the elite league – added a pair of conversions to round out the scoring for the home side.
Though the loss stung, Kearney refused to dwell on the negative, and instead focus on the fact that one of the two premier-league spots up for grabs – the top two teams earn them – is still well within reach. First-place Burnaby has 17 points, just four up on the Sharks.
“We’re still right there and we’ll bounce back from this,” Kearney said.
“We’re a veteran team and we don’t have anybody sitting there crying about it. We’ll just go back to work.
“If anything, maybe it’s a good thing. We’ve ate a little humble pie now, and the guys didn’t like that feeling, that’s for sure.”
The Sharks don’t play on the Thanksgiving long weekend, but return to the pitch Oct. 15 for a road game against the UBC Thunderbirds.
After that, they play first-place Burnaby in a game that could ultimately decide their premier-league fate.
“That’s a big one for sure, but we’ve got a couple weeks now to practise and get ready,” Kearney said.
“We’ll eat some turkey this weekend, but then it’ll be back to work.”