A year after losing in the BC Rugby Union provincial final – a season in which they “peaked too soon” according to team rugby director Andy Blackburn – the Bayside Sharks finally got the timing right, winning a Div. 1 men’s championship Saturday afternoon in Burnaby.
The Sharks, who finished the Div. 1 season as regular-season champions and were just one week removed from a 54-0 blowout win in semifinals, earned the 2019 provincial title with a 34-29 win over Abbotsford.
Last May, Bayside lost to the Vancouver Rowing Club in the championship game.
But unlike 2018, this season – dubbed “The Year of the Shark” by the team on its social-media channels – finished on a happier note for the South Surrey/White Rock club.
Playing in front of hundreds of spectators, the two sides were evenly matched – Abby finished second to the Sharks during the regular season – but it was Bayside that staked itself to the first lead Saturday at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex, scoring two early tries. The lead didn’t last long, however, as the resilient Abbotsford team reeled the Sharks back in with some scores of their own.
Such was the theme for much of the match, with Bayside taking a slim lead, only to see their Fraser Valley foes come back to tie the game. Then, in the 60th minute, Abbotsford took its first lead of the game.
But like the Sharks’ leads earlier in the match, Abby’s time in front did not last long either. Bayside rallied to first tie the game, then re-take the lead, with Jarrad Newey scoring the team’s final try – making the team’s trademark shark-fin salute as he rumbled across the goal line.
2019…..The Year of The Shark! A great season for @bayside_sharks capped off with an epic final vs an incredibly tough opponent @AbbotsfordRFC Unbelievable atmosphere & support from 2 great clubs who build from the bottom up with strong minis, juniors, women and old boys. pic.twitter.com/2e36WYdVUl
— Bayside Sharks Rugby (@bayside_sharks) May 6, 2019
A late push from Abbotsford brought them back to within a try of the Sharks, but Bayside made a defensive stand as the clock ticked down, eventually winning by five.
“That was a real nail biter, being up with 10 (minutes) to go only to be pegged back to a five-point game was tough going,” said Spencer Thorpe, Bayside’s No. 11 who was playing in his third Club Finals weekend.
“We took our foot off the gas a bit in the middle but then finished strong and I have to give so much credit to all the boys on the team for digging deep.”
After the game, Blackburn called the game “an epic nail biter” and had plenty of praise not just for his own crew, but for Abbotsford, as well.
“The Abby boys were unreal,” he wrote on Twitter Monday morning. “Never say die attitude. It’s frightening how much better they will become as they have so many youngsters.”
He also took time to reflect on the past two seasons and the team’s back-to-back runs to the B.C. title game.
“The last 2 seasons have been a wild ride,” he said. “Huge club effort. Many unsung heroes. Terrific fans.”