Story and Images by Erich Eichhorn (ISN)

April 13, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Castaway Wanderers did what many thought would be impossible to do, stopping the league-leading Burnaby Lakers (9-3) and keep their playoff hopes alive in the BC Rugby Leagues Premier Division with one game remaining in the regular season.

The Wanderers would shock the Lakers 23-16 at Windsor Park Saturday afternoon, handing them their first loss in 9 games.

For the Wanderers, a loss would have almost sealed their 5th place finish and out of playoff contention, and with only one game remaining against the Meralomas, thus sealing the Castaway’s fate. That outcome was apparently the furthest from their minds.

Wanderers’ Scott Franklin sees an opening to the Laker’s end to run in for C.W.’s first try in the game – Photo by Erich Eichhorn ( )

Castaway and International player Scott Franklin scores the games first try to put the Wanderers team up 13-6 over the Burnaby Lakers Saturday at Windsor Park – Erich Eichhorn ( )

The Castaways would receive a shot in the arm for this match as the team was supported by returning carded and standout Canadian international sevens player Ciaran Hearn, who would return to the team while on break from his national duties.

International and Wanderer player Ciaran Hearn would play a huge part in keeping the pressure on the Lakers running and kicking penalty kicks. Hearn would score 6 points in the first half to pace his team to an early lead – Photo by Erich Eichhorn ( )

The Castaway Wanderers would prove slippery taking advantage of Lakers missed tackles, gaining field advantage despite poor field conditions – Photo by Erich Eichhorn ( )

Hearn’s return would prove pivotal, as he would score first points for his Castaways team on the penalty kick, putting pressure on the Lakers to even the score. On cue, with field conditions less than ideal for a running attack, the Laker’s would elect to kick for points to even the score at 3-3 at the half on the boot of #10 James Reekie.

The Castaway Wanderers would surprise the Burnaby Lakers Saturday at Windsor Park with a 23-16 win to keep their playoff hopes alive.Mozac Samson of the Wanderers runs for a large gain – Photo by Erich Eichhorn ( )

The Castaway Wanderers would play a tough game against the high-flying Burnaby Lakers. The Wanderers would succeed in holding the high scoring  Lakers  to only 16 points on the afternoon in less than ideal weather conditions at Windsor Park – Photo by Erich Eichhorn  ( )

The second half would be as much about field possession and kicking the ball deep, as it was about ball possession. Wanderer’s coach, Ian Hyde-Lay would comment earlier that his team would have to take care of the ball in front of an otherwise opportunistic Laker team that loves to feed on turnovers.

Captain Matt Buckley unloads the ball before a Burnaby Laker player can finish his tackle – Photo by Erich Eichhorn ( )

Under torrential down pours and hail storms, the Castaway Wanderers overcame tough odds to pull out the upset win over the Burnaby Lakers. Mozac Samson takes the high tackle to help pull down the Laker ball carrier – Photo by Erich Eichhorn ( )

The Castaways would do just that in a rain and hail soak Windsor field. The Wanderers fought for each loose ball possession, patiently pushing up field. They would be rewarded with another penalty kick by Ciaran Hearn, following the games first try by Scott Franklin,  and picking up a loose ball on the Lakers five yard line and diving into the end to put his team up 13-3.

International player Ray Barkwill looks on as torrential downpours wash the mud away from the last play – Photo by Erich Eichhorn ( )

International Scrum Half Kyle Armstrong launches the ball out of the scrum before being tackled by a Laker’s defender – Photo by Erich Eichhorn ( )

Burnaby Lakers, not to be denied a decent match scored the next 13 points on another two kicks and a try to take the lead away from the hard-working Wanderer squad, leading 16-13.

With fourteen minutes left in the game, the Castaways would answer the challenge with another try by #11 Mozac Samson and a field kick by Hearns to defeat the Burnaby Lakers 23-16. With the win, the Wanderers leave a door open for cross-town rival James Bay Athletic Association (8-4) a chance to take the league crown away from the Lakers squad.