Anthony Luca, BLRC (photo provided by Judy Teasdale)
BURNABY - With four full rounds to go in the 2013 Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League season, top-ranked James Bay Athletic Association (8-2) heads to the Lower Mainland this saturday for a clash with no. 3 Burnaby Lake (6-3).
Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League - Sat. March 23rd:
James Bay AA at Burnaby Lake (Burnaby Lake Sports Complex) 2:45pm
Bayside AA at Meraloma Rugby Club (Connaught Park) 2:45pm
UVic Vikes at UBCOB Ravens (Jericho Park) 2:45pm
Castaway Wanderers at Capilano RFC (Klahanie Park) 2:45pm
Both teams are riding five-game win streaks and with a game-in-hand, Burnaby are eyeing a rise up the rankings and a possible home playoff match in the semifinal rounds. Burnaby's league leading defence has seen them hold opponents to just 15 points per game and their scrum continues to set the standard.
It wasn't long ago that Burnaby were in the Premier League cellar, wrapping up the 2010 season with a 1-8-0-2 (two defaults) season. In 2011 they made the quarterfinals before getting knocked out by the UBCOB Ravens. In 2012, they came within two points of advancing to the championship game, when they were edged 23-21 by James Bay in the semifinals at MacDonald Park.
"That playoff game was a tough match and we had an opportunity to go for the win with a couple minutes left. We went for the points from nearly half way instead of opting for a kick in the corner and unfortunately it didn't work out and James Bay recovered possession and wore out the clock," said Burnaby's head coach Kris de Scossa. "That wasn't the main reason we lost, as it was our game management that cost us. This season one of the key things has been the players developing their game management skills and I think if the opportunity came up again we would know how to better handle it this year."
Mike Gough has captained the squad in the place of injured Aaron Goddard and has done a fantastic job according to de Scossa. New addition James Reekie comes to the lineup by way of Ireland and has made an immediate impact. Reekie currently tops the league scoring charts with 77 points in seven games, contributing a pair of tries, 11 penalties and 17 conversions.
The veteran leadership in the squad has been with the club for several years and have put in the time to see the program turn itself around. Forwards Anthony Luca, Scott Plummer and Steve Battie have all been with the club for over seven years (Luca was a BLRC junior). 2011 Canadian Rugby Championship Player of the Year Joe Dolesau is now in his fourth year and is known as a scoring threat, leading Burnaby with five tries this season. At scrum half is Rain de Guzman who came through the Burnaby juniors in '02 and continues to excel with his smooth ball distribution.
"Although we have steadily gotten better, it's the same group of guys that have been at the club for years," adds de Scossa. "But these players have been through adversity together, they continue to work harder every year and although I don't think we are near the final product, things are coming together."
The last time these two sides met back on October 27th, James Bay again handed Burnaby a narrow 1-point defeat, sending the squad back to the mainland with a 20-19 loss.
"James Bay are a tough outfit and last time we played them they had a full batch of Canada [national team] players," added de Scossa. "We will head into Saturday as the underdog and will be in for a great match with some fantastic rugby to be played."
The Ceili's Cup First Division match is set for 1:00pm at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex with the Premier tilt to follow at 2:45. At 11:30am, Burnaby's women's prems will host Capilano in an adidas Premiership clash.
Around the league…
Elsewhere in Premier League competition, no.4 Meraloma (5-4) will look to hold onto the last available playoff berth when they host the no. 8 Bayside Sharks (2-9). Vancouver West will also play host to another Premier clash when the no. 7 UBCOB Ravens (2-7-1) host the no. 6 UVic Vikes (4-6) at Jericho Park. The no. 5 Castaway Wanderers (4-5-1) will travel to the North Shore to face no. 2 Capilano RFC (7-3) at Klahanie Park.
Premier League Scoring Race
77 pts - James Reekie (Burnaby Lake)
54 pts - Dan Kilpatrick (James Bay)
45 pts - Beau Parker (UVic Vikes)
45 pts - Eric Wilson (Meraloma)
39 pts - Chris Robinson (Capilano)
35 pts - Matt Yanagiya (Capilano)
35 pts - Fraser Lyle (Castaway Wanderers)
34 pts - Admir Cejvanovic (Burnaby Lake)
34 pts - Pat Kay (UVic Vikes)
28 pts - Sean White (James Bay)