October 17, 2012, BURNABY – The Lower Mainland’s two remaining undefeated women’s teams will square off this weekend when Bayside Athletic Association travels to Burnaby Lake Rugby Club in a rematch of last year’s regional final.
The 2011 Anna Schnell Cup went to Burnaby Lake last November as the hosts edged Bayside by a narrow 6-0 score line. With just three weeks left in the current regular season schedule, this weekend’s outcome could prove crucial in determining home field advantage during the playoffs.
“This is a big game for us. We played them tight in the first half of last year and lost a close one at their field in the Anna Schnell Cup,” said Bayside’s head coach Kyle Ferguson. “I am expecting an open game as long as the weather holds and I know from last year [Burnaby] likes to run and counter attack like we do.”
Bayside lost all three 2011-2012 matchups against the defending champions but this year are primed for the upset.
“We have a great team with a good mix of young and old, with some rep level youth players stepping up for us,” added Ferguson. “The key to our success so far is playing a strong all-around game. Our defence has been very good and in turn the offence has been able to capitalize.”
Through their opening three games Bayside’s offence has produced 158 points and allowed just 20 against. Topping the division scoring charts are a pair of Bayside players as BC U18 provincial team graduate Alex Mueller has 39 points and Jodie Cornell sits second with 37. Fourth in scoring is Tanya Leigh who has tallied 30 points through six tries. With an influx of youth including U18 provincial team graduates Jenna Elidoros and Sierra Bonner, the team has also benefited from their senior players like Laura Foreman who has returned from New Zealand to help solidify the forward pack.
“Moving forward we are hoping to integrate our youth players more into the lineup and keep a good mix of younger and older players,” Ferguson added. “They bring a lot of tenacity and they come to practice to train and learn from the vets which is great. The vets have really stepped up and led the rookies which has made the transition for them easier – and the [younger players] are also keeping vets on their toes and pushing for line up positions which makes things fun.”
Looking to derail Bayside’s current progression are some proven Burnaby veterans in Julia Sugawara, Kim Donaldson, Lauren Tagg, Devon Luca and Gen Gratton. Luca has proven to be Burnaby’s main threat with four tries this season.
“We were a little worried we did not have a game breaker or a deep threat so to speak,” said Burnaby head coach Walt Brandl. “But Devon has opened things up and peeled back defences with hard play and her bursts of speed.”
New additions to Burnaby’s lineup include Anh Tran who stepped up at scrum half and Tianna Coutts has been powering the engine room in the second row.
Brandl has been impressed by the quality of rugby in the first half of the season and knows his team need a strong showing to take down Bayside on Saturday.
“Teams take different approaches during the Fall season so we try not to get too wrapped up in the standings. I am very impressed with what Kamloops and SFU are doing in terms of improvement from week to week,” Brandl added. “Looking at the numbers Bayside are putting up, I think it will take some strong defence and plenty of rain to beat them.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 11:30am at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex.
Women’s Lower Mainland Tier One Schedule – Sat. October 20th:
Bayside AA at Burnaby Lake (Burnaby Lake Sports Complex) 11:30am
Capilano RFC at Meraloma Rugby Club (Connaught park) 11:30am
Kamloops RFC at SFU (SFU) 11:30am