Surrey Beavers top Nanaimo Hornets for B.C. championship

Chris Blank - Agassiz Observer

The Surrey Beavers took care of some unfinished business Saturday afternoon in Abbotsford.

A year after losing B.C. Rugby’s Division 1 provincial final in overtime, the men’s rugby team – which plays out of Sullivan Park – became provincial champions with a convincing 41-10 triumph over the Nanaimo Hornets at Abby’s Exhibition Park.

The title was the first provincial crown for the club since 2012, the last time the Division 1 side won a B.C. championship game.

Coming so close a year ago in a 27-22 loss to Abbotsford RFC, the Beavers weren’t about to let another opportunity slip away.

“We hadn’t played Nanaimo all season, we didn’t know anything about them,” said Paul Kelly, a player with the team and also the club’s vice-president.

“But we went in with so much confidence. Ten minutes after kickoff, we’re ahead 10-0.”

Jamie Beaton and Clay Ross scored unconverted tries early in the match to give the Beavers the early advantage, which was stretched to 24-0 with two converted tries from Reid Gordon and Alex Martin before halftime.

In the second half, Surrey continued to extend the lead, getting tries from Ross, Riley Johnson and Sean Connelly.

“Everyone played phenomenally,” said Kelly. “There was no single player who stood out, the entire team – all 15 players on the field – contributed to the win.”

The game was one of several taking place at Exhibition Park Sunday, where teams in several levels of competition were vying for a provincial titles.

Nanaimo had advanced to the provincial final after defeating South Surrey’s Bayside Sharks 26-7 in semifinal action the weekend prior.

And despite being eliminated in semifinals – a game that was playing under rainy, windy conditions – Bayside head coach Pete Clifford deemed the season a unqualified success.

For starters, it was the first time in five years that Bayside made the playoffs. And then in the first round, the Semiahmoo Peninsula crew upset No. 1-ranked Abbotsford.

“It was awesome… positives all the way through,” said Clifford.

“Our numbers are growing, the quality (of players) is improving – it’s been a success.”

Field and weather conditions played a role in the loss to the Hornets, he added, suggesting that had the game been played in better weather, the result may have been different.

“We’re a small, quick team and the weather didn’t help us at all,” Clifford explained. “It was a really heavy pitch, and they’re a big, physical team.

“But (regardless of weather), travel to the Island is really hard, and we saw the affects of that last weekend when they played Surrey.”

As Reported By: Agassiz Observer
Posted On: May 9, 2017
Original Article: www.bclocalnews.com/sports/421796853.html