2015 TRU Keenan A and Keenan A 2s League Champions
2014 Toronto Rugby Champions
2013 Toronto Rugby Fall Cup Winners
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This was a good game. This was a very good game. From a Bay Street perspective (as all these are written) this was the game of the season. Any neutral who happened to be wandering through (or getting lost as several Pigs did) the Barrie Sports Complex and found themselves casual observers would have marveled at this game. It was almost Rockyesque in nature: one team finds itself under immense pressure at the start then hits back to form a lead before being hauled back in and just when it looks like its curtains they rally to prevail. This game had everything you want: edge, fierce commitment, intensity and great team play interspersed by some sublimely talented individuals on both sides. These are the games players want to play in and when they look back on their careers it is games like this that they will remember. And although this will mean absolutely nothing to the Barrie team and management they should take a bow for everything they brought to it. Sometimes these tight games go your way and sometimes they don’t. Barrie is a terrific side but Bay Street is blessed with an exceptionally strong squad and just had that extra bit of class and grit in them to prevail 21-29.
Prior to the game both teams were tied on points 32 points with Barrie ranked first and Bay Street in second place. The added spice was that both sides knew that whoever won would control their own destiny going into the last round of league games. The buildup was somber in mood with the usual bonhomie missing but it was sharp with each player focused on his role thinking of that first hit, first tackle, first decision with the ball. General Curtis E. LeMay, commander of the Strategic Air Command, once said “I’ll tell you what war is about. You’ve got to kill people and when you kill enough of them, they stop fighting.” Well this was war for 80 minutes with both sides determined that they would not be the ones to stop fighting.
Barrie started at a blistering pace determined to make up from their opening day loss to the Pigs but they were met with extreme aggression and commitment in the tackle. Bay Street found themselves camped inside their 22 for the first 15 minutes absorbing wave after wave of pressure. There were several times it looked as though their line was about to be breached but this is a resolute herd of pigs and attackers were repelled by a succession of thumping tackles.
Sieges may be laid but there is no guarantee of success and ultimately this one failed through the nimble footwork of Dave Edwards. A double tackle from Tom Kimball and Dave Jacks on the Pigs tryline allowed the pack to ruck and turnover the ball. Trevor Anderson drove next and then the evergreen Jess Landry flung the ball to Andrew Buxton-Forman whose gazelle-like stride brought play outside Bay Street’s 22. Edwards saw his opportunity and beautifully sidestepped two defenders before slipping his pass to Hot Josh Weaver. Just back from injury Weaver’s athleticism saw him drive deep into Barrie’s half. Barrie cleared the ball but the Pigs had an attacking lineout that they were not about to waste. The imperious Tom Schwitzer secured the ball and Dave Burton moved it wide. Spencer Morgan cleverly came around from the blindside wing to create an extra man and when Bucky looped Landry for a return pass he had a clear run to the tryline. It was a beautiful score and a wonderful response to sustained pressure.
Barrie were stunned and responded with vigor but Bay Street was beginning to find their groove. Ian Davies was monstrous in defence and Dave’s Reilly and Tait were putting in huge shift around the park. Working their way methodically upfield Bay Street had a lineout on the Barrie 10 meter line. Kimball tapped to a peeling Schwitzer and he ran into midfield. Ryan Tomlinson made a half break and his slip pass to Weaver saw him release Jacks who simply refused to be bowed. A Dave Jacks in full flight must be a terrifying sight for any defense and it would be fascinating to see how many meters made and defenders beaten Jacks makes per game. Whatever those stats may be this was another game where they were exceptionally high. Having been dragged down deep in Barrie’s 22 Burton threw a long pass to Edwards. Drawing his man he passed to Bucky whose pace saw him outstrip the winger and score his second try.
Bay Street converted a penalty shortly thereafter through Bucky and it was this kick that was to prove so important later.
Their dander up Bay Street started to play some top class running rugby. Bucky fielded a long relieving kick and ran it back with aplomb. Morgan, Anderson and Jacks all combined in close quarters before Edwards ran an arc a 200 meter runner would be proud of with Bucky on his shoulder for the pass. From the ruck Burton kicked to the opposite corner with Morgan the intended recipient. Spencer was behind the kicker with defenders in front of him and had it all to do. However Spencer is nothing if not belligerently obdurate and is a player who always backs himself – with good reason too. The ball bounced high into the goal area. Spencer had two defenders between him and the ball and was not favorite to reach it but Spencer being belligerently obdurate flung himself between both to touch it down and score the Pigs third and final try of the half. It was brave and fabulous and typically Spencer.
0-22 at the half and if anyone thought this game was over Barrie begged to differ. They were outstanding in the second half with Rory Tomlinson the catalyst for much of their excellent play. Tomlinson made a break in midfield bring play into Bay Street’s half and from the resulting scrum their No. 8 broke and scored under the posts.
Shortly afterwards a loose kick was collected and Barrie’s back three combined to send their winger in to add a second try. Tomlinson was the fulcrum for Barrie and his lines of running and distribution from either hand was causing untold problems for the Pigs.
The Pigs were under immense pressure in the half although there were some moments of individual brilliance through three separate breaks from Jacks, Anderson and Ryan Tomlinson whilst a beautiful backs move which put Bucky through to score was called back for crossing. The attritional nature of the game also took its toll with several front liners leaving the fray.
When Barrie scored their third try from a scrum to draw to within one point things looked ominous. However there is a difference between being on the ropes and being down and Bay Street were never down. Reilly made a crunching tackle forcing the ball free. Burton kicked the ball low and recollected it in the Barrie 22. Jacks carried the ball and then Tomlinson and Bucky caused consternation in the Barrie defense with their lines of running. Tomlinson stayed on his feet until support in the form of Anderson was on hand and Trevor’s low drive gained ground. Burton spun the ball back across the line to Bucky who spotted a gap and he ghosted through to score his third and the Pigs fourth try thus securing a vital bonus point. It also put the Pigs eight points clear (thanks to the afremoneti0ned penalty) meaning the Barrie had to score twice in the remaining minutes.
Barrie threw everything at Bay Street but time was against them and their flowing game was replaced by rushed passes and dropped balls. The defense was heroic and when Barrie were awarded a penalty with the last play of the game in the Pigs half they decided to run it rather than kick at goal and secure a losing bonus point. The defense held firm and when the referee blew his whistle it felt like winning a cup final.
All this means that Bay Street requires a point from their final league game this Saturday to win the league. Some may opt for a conservative approach but that is not the Class of 2015’s style. Al Davis’ motto was “Just Win, Baby”. After the Battle of Barrie that sounds like music to the ears.
For those who know their football history the phrase ‘Seven Blocks of Granite’ will not be unfamiliar. For those that do not it is a nickname given to the Fordham University offensive line of the 1930’s who ensured the school was, at that time, a football powerhouse and listed one Vince Lombardi amongst its ranks. Fordham scored liberally and were parsimonious defensively – a trait one could associate with the 2015 Pigs. A block of granite is unyielding and immensely tough which mirrored the performance of Bay Street’s pack as they laid the foundations for Saturday’s 45-15 victory over Saracens. These ‘Eight Blocks of Granite’ were dominant from the start and provided the platform for their backline to determine how much of that dominance would be reflected in the scoreline. Saracens were well worth their victory the first time the sides met in June but they were denied the opportunity to establish any foothold in the return fixture. Those who had the pleasure of attending Ladies Aux witnessed the vivisection of a good Saracens team via precise cuts worthy of a surgeon and blunt trauma worthy of Thor.
From the kick-off Bay Street put some beautiful phase rugby together. Tom Kimball drove forward with Ian Davies and Trevor Anderson in close support. The Pigs moved the ball with Andrew Buxton-Forman, back in pink from his recent nuptials looking regal, tanned and imperious at 15, finding space and making rugby look oh-so-easy in that Bucky-laid-back-stride before being tackled just meters short of the tryline. Noah Harrison was first in support and crashed over to open the scoring and stun Saracens.
From the restart Saracens enjoyed some possession finding themselves in the Pigs 22 but like a Cherry Blossom whose beautiful flower withers all too quickly so too did their position. Bucky made a huge hit on their centre and forced the ball loose. Dave Jacks, like William Webb Ellis before him, took the ball in his arms and ran with it daring anyone to tackle him. Three Saracens did manage to bring him down and then Spencer Morgan and Tom Schwitzer made huge carries. Trevor was in support of Schwitzer and when the ball didn’t come out of the ensuing ruck Saracens were awarded the put-in. They decided to swing the ball wide but Morgan, reading the play, came off his wing and smashed his man at exactly the point he received it giving Bay Street quick turnover ball. Dave Burton moved it quickly where Bucky and Jon Mosales combined. Kimball drove from the next ruck close to Saracens line before Andy Tyler dummied and went over untouched to extend the lead. From violent origins can beauty come.
It was the worst possible start for Saracens and one which the Pigs were intent on building upon. Camping themselves in their opponents half Burton orchestrated play with the back three of Mo, Bucky and Spencer seeing plenty of ball whilst the back row of Kimball, Jacks and Tom Clancy made the game anything but recreational for Saracens both with and without the ball. Dave Tait was immense in both tight and loose play and like a good wine simply gets better with age. From a Kimball lineout win Bucky ran a beautiful line taking him around the midfield defenders. Mo, Jess Landry and Clancy all handled in support before the latter was dragged into touch. Saracens infringed at the lineout and from the resultant free-kick Jacks reacted quickest by tapping and running through to score before the defenders could react.
Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Empire, and Emperor of India until he found notoriety in 1936 by creating a constitutional crisis when abdicating the crown in favor of Wallis Simpson. Dave Edwards may not have as impressive a resumé and it is unclear whether he has a similar penchant for American divorcée’s with suspected fascist leanings but what we do know is that he notched his eight try of the season in another superb performance. A Davies tackle, as so often happens, forced the ball out of the attackers hands and into Burton’s. Mo came in off his wing and fed Edwards whose deft offload to Jacks escalated play to another level. Side stepping one defender and simply running straight through two others Jacks was eventually hauled down by a further three desperate Saracens but before he hit the ground Jacks repaid the favor and popped the ball to the supporting Edwards who sauntered over to score the game’s fourth try.
Saracens tried to rally but it was a case of two steps forward and one step back. They put together some good phases and found themselves in Bay Street’s 22 for the first time since kick-off. However they were slow supporting a player in contact allowing Harrison to counter ruck and steal the ball. Saracens backline was out of position and Landry, spotting this, threw a long pass to Bucky whose above referenced stride pattern saw him evade despairing arms to run the length of the pitch and score the Pigs fifth try of the half untouched.
Saracens were give a glimmer of hope shortly into the second half when, from an attacking scrum in the Pigs 22, their excellent scrum half went over to score from an 8-9 move. Any hope of mounting a comeback though was met with the same response as the unfortunate manger of a North Korean terrapin farm received following a Kim Jong-Un visit. With play on the Pigs 10 meter line Harrison and Anderson combined to turn over the ball following another Clancy tackle. Spotting a gap Burton made a half break and, as so often is the case, Mo was first receiver from the ruck. Sprinting up his wing Mo committed his tackler before giving an inside pass to Jacks who raced the remaining thirty meters to score.
The second half continue to see the Pigs play champagne rugby so befitting the club’s image and the day that was in it and although Saracens added two further unconverted tries the result was never in doubt. How fitting it was that the Blocks of Granite that set the tone at the start of the game combined to score the game’s final try. Under pressure in their own 22 Saracens hacked the ball to the halfway line where Burton took possession. Ryan Tomlinson threw a pass to his center colleague Edwards and then looped to take the return. Tomlinson may well have inspired Shakira to pen her hit ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ as swaying hips and nimble footwork saw him sashay through a multitude of would-be defenders. Andy T broke next and when he was tackled the forwards started to maul. Forward they rumbled tight-knit and ferocious sapping what little energy Saracens had left. Battering rams came next in the form of the hugely impressive Dave ‘Dicey’ Reilly, making his 1s debut, smashing through two tacklers before the evergreen Mick Schaer picked up and barged over to seal a wonderful personal and team performance.
The Pigs are back in control of their own destiny now knowing that two victories from their final two games would secure them the League. Barrie, at home, will be tough but with Blocks of Granite up front and sublime backline skills to call upon I know which jersey I’d rather be pulling on this Saturday.
Long before Mel Gibson became a pariah by offending the Jewish Diaspora and then followed that up by offending all women via a leaked phone call to his then girlfriend he made some pretty decent films. One of these was Lethal Weapon where he played Martin Riggs, a former U.S. Army Special Forces operative turned cop working homicide in LA. The grief of his wife’s death and deathwish attitude turned him into the titular ‘Lethal Weapon’. Thankfully Bay Street’s Matt Riggs displays none of the characteristics of the actor but is turning into a lethal weapon for the Pigs. Riggs has been outstanding in each game played and is deservedly knocking on the door for first team honors. Saturday was another opportunity to show his wares and he did not disappoint.Fielding an exceptionally strong team Bay Street went into Saturday’s game against Saracens in buoyant form having won their last six games. Two of the newcomers Derek Boyd and David ‘Dicey’ Reilly have added additional steel as well as ball playing nous to the team. Of his previous club in The Emerald Isle their match reporter wrote “Dicey has been a terrific addition to the club this season as a ball playing prop. We’ll miss his trademark hard carries and jaw shuddering tackles. Our opposition probably won’t.” Let me assure that scribe that Dicey is continuing that rich vein of form and is exceptionally unpopular with opponents for the reasons mentioned. Both are equally popular with their new teammates for the same rationale.Starting slowly Bay Street took a little time to settle into their normal rhythm but it wasn’t long before they found it. Ben Cotter, Godzilla and Reilly all made big carries stretching their opponents. Under pressure Saracens cleared their line but from a Boyd lineout win on the half way line the Pigs went on the attack. Coming off his wing Nikita Lavreka charged through. If that wasn’t bad enough as a defender Reilly was next up and when he was eventually dragged down he popped the ball to the supporting Riggs who scored a spectacular diving try in the corner.Ben Cotter collected the ball from the restart and his athleticism saw him devour the open ground before him. The Pigs tried to move the ball but their pass was intercepted allowing the Saracens winger to run in untouched to level the scoring. If the Pigs were downhearted it didn’t show as they continued to play good rugby. A Boyd lineout steal on halfway and driving maul to the 10 meter line had Greg Hall salivating. Breaking off the back Godzilla took off with a fleetness of foot that wouldn’t have been amiss on the Pan Am track. Godzilla’s line took him around the covering forwards and straight into or, to be more precise, through the Saracens backline and onward to touch down under the post. Short of arming oneself with a bazooka there is not much else that can stop Godzilla head on and even then it would need to be a direct hit.Saracens clever halfbacks continued to get them into good positions but where an attacker was isolated, even momentarily, the Pigs were ruthless. In his own 22 Prince made a tackle on his opposite number and Alex Koppel and Tom Mathews were straight in to turn the ball over. The ball was flashed to Jake Yune and this beautifully balanced runner took off before drawing the last man and giving Lavreka the easiest of run-ins to extend Bay Street’s lead.Just to make life even more difficult for Saracens Frank Orlando entered the fray for the second half and his punishing runs soon reaped dividends. Two Orlando’s in full flight is a lot for any team to deal with and so it proved. Jordan Partridge and Lavreka carved an opening along the sideline and when the ball was moved back along the line Orlando Jr smashed upfield. Quick ruck ball to Hall saw him feed Mike Orlando and through Sr went to score the Pigs fourth try.Jon Pigozzo stormed upfield with ball from the restart and then Koppel decided it was time to let the forwards know that anything they could do he could do just as well. Stepping inside the first defender Koppel made forty meters and took play deep into Saracens 22. Pigozzo was first in support and passed to Orlando Jr. Who else would be on Frank’s shoulder but his smaller, older brother Mike who gratefully accepted Juniors pass and scored his second try in as many minutes.Bay Street were soon troubling the scoreboard again. Another Boyd lineout catch and drive saw Chris Boyack peel and drive. Pigozzo took an inside pass from Prince and he released Partridge into space. It is said that ‘in space no-one can hear you scream’. Well on a rugby pitch ‘in space nobody can catch Jordan Partridge’ as he glided through to add the Pigs sixth try.From a lineout in the Pigs half shortly afterwards Tom Abbs soared to give quick ball off the top to Liam Boyle at 9. With the ball spun wide the superb Jordan Page read the situation perfectly committing his marker and putting Partridge into acres of space. It was like a re-run of Jordan’s previous try but only from much further out. Different location, same result though with two tries scored without a hand laid upon him.Saracens to their credit did not give up and continued to press forwards. They were met though with aggressive resistance with Riggs, Pigozzo, Jason Lemar, Boyd and Doug Henderson proving obdurate in defense. Time after time Saracens attempted to break the defensive line with one-out runners only to be repeatedly foiled. Then when they attempted to move it wider Taylor Zak came off his wing and landed a thumping tackle that allowed Boyle to steal the ball. Page who minutes earlier was the provider now became the finisher. Taking Prince’s pass Page drifted through the flailing cover to score Bay Street’s eight and final try of the game.The final score was 50-12 and it sees Bay Street travelling to Barrie knowing that a victory would put the league title in their own hands with one league game left at home on August 8th. Between now and then whether it be lethal weapons, brothers in arms, fearsome monsters or a combination of Canada and Europe’s finest that take the field the opposition will have to be at their very best to stop them.
Every child growing up across Europe or of European parentage will be aware of the Eurovision Song Contest. For the uninitiated it is the longest running annual TV song competition where each participating country submits a song to be performed on live television and radio and then casts votes for the other countries' songs to determine the most popular in the competition. It has launched the careers of ABBA and Celine Dion. As Frasier Crane remarked to Woody about his political career in being elected to the Boston City Council in the last episode of Cheers; ‘what started out as a small joke and turned into an enormous one.’ The Eurovision is similar and whether one loathes it or hates it it is part of each participating country’s identity. For those oblivious to its horrors think of ‘America’s Got Talent ‘ but with even less talent. Sends a shiver down your spine doesn’t it? One phrase from it though has passed into the modern lexicon, ‘nul points’. This is associated with the act(s) that fail to score a single point from the (approximately) 36 individual countries voting panels. This doesn’t mean the song is terrible, it merely reflects the political bias in the voting system that makes the FIFA World Cup bidding process look positively innocent in comparison. Bay Street’s 1st XV is a good team. It is a very good team. To go away from home, score six tries, and keep your opponents to ‘nul points’ is not to be sniffed at. The Yeomen are no pushovers either which makes the feat all the more impressive.
In the last recap the necessity of killers was discussed and the hope that others would emerge from their shadows. The killers of Ian Davies, Dave Jacks and Tom Kimball led the charge against the Yeomen with Ben Cotter and Dave Edwards emerging to stamp their own mark on proceedings. The Yeomen are a tough team, particularly at home, so a good start was vital for the Pigs. Knowing this the Pigs played with a fluidity and intensity from 1 to 15 that was remarkable. Dave Burton and Ryan Tomlinson at 10 and 12 constantly varied the point of attack and Todd Cornford at 15 caused mayhem in the defensive ranks each time he touched the ball. Indeed it was Cornford who led the Pigs first real attack running a long ball back with the relish usually reserved by an antipodean when presented with a jar of vegemite. The pack worked the ball up further with Jacks and Tom Schwitzer before it was spun out to Jordan Partridge on the wing who opened the scoring in the corner.
Ben Cotter collected the restart and went on a huge run upfield taking him deep into the Yeomen’s half. More Bay Street pressure saw Jon Mosales stretch them out wide. Mo was brought down and when the ball didn’t emerge from the ruck the Yeomen were awarded a scrum. Cornford, again, ran the relieving kick back where he found Jacks on his shoulder. The Running of the Bulls is the process of running in front of a small group of cattle of the toro bravo breed that have been let loose on a sectioned-off subset of a town’s streets. The most famous of these is the Pamplona bull run held each year in Spain. If ever one of the bulls has an off day or just wants a quiet night in the organizers could do worse than fly Dave Jacks over to takes it place. Perhaps it was the red in the Yeomen’s uniforms that set him off but whatever the reason Jacks was virtually unstoppable with ball in hand. Taking Cornford’s pass Jacks went on a devastating run brushing off would-be tacklers and being dragged down just short of the line. With so many of the Yeomen tasked with stopping Jacks there was inevitably space out wide which Ryan Tomlinson was not going to miss. Over he went with Burton converting.
The Pigs were playing superb rugby now. The center partnership of Tomlinson and Dave Edwards were tearing the Yeomen apart with the back row and Cotter everywhere. Dave Tait drove one ruck that sent the burly Yeomen flying and Philippe Rouanet continued to roll back the years making a nuisance of himself at rucks and scrums. Deep in their opponents 22 Bay Street knocked on but pushed the Yeomen off their own put-in. Seizing the moment Kimball picked and ran right at the 10’s channel before slipping a pass to Andy Tyler who scored under the posts.
Tomlinson continued to toy with the Yeomen’s defense the way a high school beauty queen toys with a love struck teenager: always appearing tantalizingly close but remaining forever out of reach. His footwork and speed bedeviled his opponents and his vision created opportunities for teammates. From one Tomlinson break Bay Street found themselves with an attacking lineout. Kimball rose to claim the ball and Trevor Anderson peeled taking two tacklers to stop his momentum. Kimball was on hand and barged over from close range to score the Pigs fourth try of the half.
The second half was a more even affair with the Yeomen having sustained periods of position in Bay Street’s half. However their repeated decision to kick the ball when scoring opportunities arose was as baffling to those on the Pigs sideline as it was infuriating to those on the Yeomen’s. Ian Davies defense probably had a lot to do with their decision making and one wouldn’t blame them for their choice. Not only did these kicks give away prime possession but it also gave the Pigs the opportunity to either kick or run it back. Jacks was only too happy to do the former and rest assured the Yeomen were just as unhappy with his decision. His runs are simply punishing for opponents and galvanizing for teammates.
Having rebuffed the Yeomen’s best efforts the Pigs then went on offense. Cornford, Edwards and Mo cut huge swathes into the Yeomen’s territory. Schwitzer claimed lineout ball and Burton hit Edwards whose line took him around his marker and into behind the Yeomen. Partridge was in support and went over in the corner for his second try having handed off the covering defender.
That was good but what came next was remarkable. From the restart Burton spun the ball to Edwards inside the Pigs 22. With space in front of him Edwards did was Edwards does and made all around him look like they were falling on ice whilst he wore the only pair of skates. Edwards jinked and ducked through would-be tacklers, gaining ground up the field. With each step and defender slipped the unthinkable became thinkable, the untenable became tenable. At times it looked like he was snagged but, coated in Teflon, Edwards break continued. The last obstacle was the Yeomen fullback. Edwards half handed him off and half held him before the 15 jumped on his back in a desperate attempt to stop him. Edwards strength and pace though carried both over the line to score the Pigs 6th and final try in what was a stunning solo effort.
Shortly after the referee brought a halt to proceedings with Bay Street running out 0-34 victors. Nul Points to the Yeomen but unlike the blasted Eurovision their efforts deserved more and no doubt when the teams meet again it will be another very tough and highly competitive encounter. As for the Pigs, their components make them more AC/DC than Abba. And aren’t we glad for that.
According to Verbal Kint’s version of events in The Usual Suspects New York’s Finest Taxi Service was a ring of corrupt cops that shuttled criminals across the city. For a couple hundred bucks a mile you got your own police escort. They even had their own business cards. After a while, Internal Affairs started asking questions, and the service shut down. The service came out of retirement to ferry a smuggler but was intercepted and robbed. Retirement, intercepted and robbed: all verbs which could be used to describe one of New York Athletic Club’s finest, Adrian Myers, debut for the 2s. Having won a national championship but not having played in several years the mellifluous whispered sweet nothings of the Pigs DOR, Jon Goode, seduced Myers into succumbing to his inner pig and dust off his cleats. How the Yeomen must wish he didn’t. Myers was simply outstanding in the backrow and stole several critical lineouts which either allowed the Pigs to clear their lines when deep in their half or give them great counter attacking ball. Myers even had time to give his interpretation of the rules to the referee on several occasions. Lawyer’s are never really off the clock are they?This was a tough, hard game where Bay Street really had to show their character. The club is growing and developing impressive depth where the absence of key players doesn’t weaken the side. Godzilla was in absentia but Matt Riggs, usually playing 6, packed down at 8 and gave a brilliant all round display. Mark Byers played at prop in place of Jon Pigozzo and the scrum didn’t budge. Sam Furphy played at fullback in place of Jordan Page and didn’t miss a thing. Edgar Estrada replaced the injured Bilal Husain in the second half gave a masterful display of forward play. And on it went. They guys who came in stepped up and were a huge reason why the Pigs won.From the start Bay Street kept true to their commitment to champagne style rugby by moving the ball at every opportunity. Liam Boyle’s passing was like a speeding bullet allowing his backline additional time which Mike Orlando took full benefit of making several telling breaks. Early indiscipline cost Bay Street good field position though and when they were penalized on their 22 Yeomen opted for points and converted to lead 3-0.For those who prefer their music like their ale, heavy, they will no doubt be aware of the Californian band Black Label Society whose merchandise is adorned with the logo ‘forged in iron, built to destroy’. The same might also be applied to Nikita Lavreka who, if he was described as a piece of iron in last week’s recap, was the entire foundry. Nikita was phenomenally good bagging himself a hat-trick of tries with two of them spectacularly good.Stung at going behind the Pigs raised their game. Husain, Chris Boyack and Riggs were at the forefront of taking ball on and making good ground. Boyle and Alex Prince went right and Mike Orlando make a great outside break releasing another Pigs debutant Jake Yune on the wing. Yune had a super game which was all the more impressive given he had only met his new teammates minutes before kickoff. Having made significant yardage on the right the ball was now swung back the other side. The forwards battled on with Jason LeMar, Peter Weingarden and Myers all getting involved. From the ruck Boyle went left and faced with some mountainous slabs of beef in front of him did what any right minded averagely built man would do: he passed to Nikita. Forged in iron and built to destroy he surely was. From 15 meters out Lavreka tore through the cover and scored under the post.Bay Street continued their dominance and from the kick off went straight back into the Yeomen’s 22. When the Pigs seemed destined to score they knocked the ball on giving their opponents the opportunity to clear from the scrum. Boyle and Myers put pressure on their 10 who sliced his kick. That was mistake number 1. Straight into the arms of Lavreka. That was mistake number 2. Nick Cave’s ‘Into my arms’ may well be a beautiful love ballad full of melancholic lyrics dealing with the breakup of his relationship but it must have seemed like a jaunty Christmas carol to the Yeomen compared to the sight of a full-steam-ahead Nikita as he scythed his way through the entire Yeomen pack and several of their backs to score a truly astonishing try.The Yeomen then had their own purple patch. They were just held up from scoring from a Weingarden tackle before adding a second penalty to reduce the score. Then on the stroke of halftime scored a beautiful solo try. From a lineout on the halfway their 10 spotted a gap in the Pigs defensive line and ghosted through it to run in unopposed under the post. The conversion was added to leave them a solitary point behind at the break. Things then went from bad to worse for Bay Street immediately after the restart when a dropped pass in midfield was gleefully picked up by the Yeomen 10 who ran in to score his second of the game and give his team a five point lead. The Yeomen could smell blood but it is here that the Pigs really showed their mettle. The team didn’t panic, didn’t complain or capitulate. Rather they went back to what had worked previously and had leaders on the pitch who stood up when counted.Riggs and Myers were dominating the lineout with the latter’s hands attracted to the Yeomen’s ball like a magpie to glittery objects. Husain and Frank Orlando were immense in the loose and Josh Marion was craftier than a witches bumper book of spells and potions at the breakdown. From a Myers lineout steal Bay Street kicked long with the ball sitting up just before the tryline forcing the Yeomen to concede a 5 meter scrum. Riggs picked and charged with Ken Ting supporting. Teams can try to suppress The Tank but eventually The Tank prevails. From the ruck Frank screamed for the ball and battered his way over to score. Prince’s place kicking was superb and he added his third conversion to put Bay Street two points clear.The Pigs were playing with confidence now and with Prince and Mike Orlando shutting everything down in midfield the Yeomen’s options were limited. They tried to use their big, heavy pack but Bay Street were equal to the challenge. Josh Braganza replaced Frank providing additional mobility and cover. Following a period of pressure the Yeomen dropped out of their 22 with Bay Street securing the ball. Prince threw a long miss pass directly to Lavreka on their 22. Having been burnt twice already the defense hurled themselves at Nikita but like a spaceship that gets its returning trajectory wrong and bounces off the earth’s atmosphere so did the Yeomen off Nikita. It was incredible to watch as the defenders were neither small nor cowed. Through Nikita went to score the final try of the game.To their credit the Yeomen did not give up and were on the attack when the referee blew his final whistle. It was a fully deserved and hard fought win for Bay Street which made the victory all the more enjoyable. Forged in iron and built to destroy. Sounds like a good description of the 2s. Just wait until the DOR starts practicing saying it.
very team in any walk of life needs leaders. But winning teams also need their killers and just because one person may be a leader it does not follow they are also a killer. As Major Richard D. ‘Dick’ Winters wrote in his book ‘Beyond Band of Brothers’; “in both training and combat, a leader senses who his killers are. Many other soldiers thought they were killers and wanted to prove it. In reality, however, your killers are few and far between. Nor is it always possible to determine who your killers are by the results of a single engagement. In combat, a commander hopes that nonkillers will learn by their association with those soldiers who instinctively wage war without restraint and without regard to their personal safety. The problem, of course, lies in the fact that casualties are highest among your killers, hence the need to return them to the front as soon as possible in the hope that other ‘killers’ emerge. Around this group of battle-hardened veterans the remainder of Easy Company coalesced.” Interestingly Winters never saw himself as a killer although he was the commanding officer of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, during WWII and eventually rose to command the entire 2nd Battalion. Bay Street are no different and their killers, in no particular order, are Dave Jacks, Ian Davies, Tom Kimball and Tom Clancy who were magnificently belligerent in defense and veritable wrecking balls on offense. The Beach are a good young side brimming with talent, are brave with some players clearly earmarked for greater things, but for all their exuberance, skill and efforts they were outplayed, outthought and simply outfought. Welcome to the Thunderdome.
From the off Bay Street tore into the storied opponents with Clancy at his snarling, aggressive best. Throughout Clancy broke the first tackle and regularly needed two, three or more tacklers to stop him. All this gave the Pigs superb go-forward ball which they took full advantage of. After an early Dave Burton penalty opened Bay Street’s account Jacks collected the restart and made valuable ground. The Pigs worked their way upfield and when the Beach cleared their lines Hot Josh Weaver claimed the resulting lineout. Tom Schwitzer peeled and Jon Mosales was the next recipient to make ground. Quick ball reached Ryan Tomlinson and his deft offload to his center partner Dave Edwards saw him score the games first try.
Joseph Heller’s satirical novel Catch-22 is frequently cited as one of the greatest literary works of the last century. As the narrator explains; “There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.” The Beach were caught in their own Catch-22. Every time they tried to gain ground through their pack their were immediately stopped and when they kicked it was either run back with interest by Spencer Morgan or sent back to them by Burton whereupon they would attempt to establish ground through their pack and so the circle would repeat itself.
The game was attritional with Burton and Taylor Nash leaving the fray and being replaced by Nikita Lavreka and Jordan Partridge coming onto the wings with Tomlinson moving to 10 and Mo moving in one to center. Trevor Anderson was, again, brilliant throughout and played like an extra flanker making a series of good tackles and being prominent in the loose. From one of Trevor’s hits the ball was knocked on giving Bay Street an attacking scrum. Kimball picked and taking three defenders out of the game slipped the ball to Andy Tyler who gracefulness, elegance and efficiency at 9 may well have been Elon Musk’s inspiration for his Tesla Roadster. Try number two was notched up under the posts.
If Tyler is a Tesla then it was back to the juggernauts of Clancy and Jacks as they went on the rampage. Clancy collected the kickoff and decided to go through the Beach’s pack and several of their backs before linking up with Trevor and Ian Davies. Edwards then went on one of his trademark jinking runs and when he was stopped deep in the Beach 22 Jacks was next up. One, two, three tacklers couldn’t stop Jacks scoring and to be honest a full pack may not have either. Tomlinson added the conversion following Burton’s departure.
The Pigs were playing with an exhilarating alchemy of backs and forwards interplay. When a break was made one of the backrow was first there to link play followed by either Trevor, Weaver or Schwitzer. Their pace and handling skills kept the defense on their back foot and allowed the Pigs to keep varying the point of attack. It was beautiful to watch and a nightmare to play against. For the record this was a good Beach team and they have some outstanding players but on the day the Pigs and more to their point, their aggression, was too much for them. This aggression in the tackle was rewarded when, on the stroke of half time, Bay Street was awarded a penalty 5 meters out from the line for a player not releasing in the tackle courtesy of Davies. Clancy took the tap and there was no doubt what was coming next. The efforts of the Beach’s complete back row could not prevent Tom touching down.
To their credit the Beach came out intent to impose their game on proceedings but they made the worst possible start. Having won ruck ball they kicked deep trying to secure position. Nikita linked with Spencer and his interplay with Tomlinson set Partridge free. He found Mo on the 22 whose line took him untouched between two defenders standing right beside each other and under the posts to score.
The Beach then had their best period of the game and put phases together showing how dangerous they are given the opportunity and it took all of the Pigs resilience to repel them. During this time they scored two well deserved and well worked tries. They made a cardinal error though which let the Pigs back into the game. Bay Street were on the counter with Lavreka tackled in their 22. Instead of kicking the ball out on the near side the Beach player kicked open where all the players from the previous play were. One of these was Partridge and if there is one player you don’t want to give time and space to it’s him. Jinking through three of their pack before turning on the afterburners Partridge left the cover for dead and scored a stunning individual try.
Immediately afterwards the Pigs killed the game. Weaver collected the restart and drove forward. Clancy made a good break and had Anderson in support. From the ruck Jacks picked and burst through one tackle, fended off another before scoring his second try with two tacklers hanging off him. They didn’t even slow him down.
The game opened up completely as both sides ran from everywhere which was a testament to their fitness and skill levels. It was a hugely enjoyable spectacle and credit must go to the Beach who never gave up and competed for everything. Where there is open play there is space and where there is open space there is Tomlinson and when those combine there are consequences; bad consequences for opponents. Class is class and Tomlinson oozes it in capital 24 carat gold letters. He continually tore through the defense or put others into gaps. On the last play of the game he took a pass from a driving maul and mesmerized the covering defense before racing clear. Drawing the final defender Trevor Anderson, running a supporting line, took the pass and scored the Pigs final try.
Bay Street has is leaders and many exceptional players but they will be hoping that their killers remain injury free and dressed in pink for the rest of the season. Perhaps, as Major Winters wrote other killers may well emerge from their shadows. The rest of the league may well pray not.
It might interest some of you to learn that Mariah Carey is single once again and is seeking a man on Match.com. For those interested Mariah describes herself as a “self-employed/entrepreneur”, reveals that she is looking for a chap between 20 and 120, and lists her interests as cooking, movies, concerts, and religion. Sounds reasonable enough until one considers for a trip to London to switch on Christmas lights Mariah requested - in addition to a pink Rolls Royce, pink carpet, confetti shaped like butterflies to shower her at the end of her appearance, security and entourage - 20 white kittens and 100 doves. Whether these were to pet and fawn over or to recreate some Gladiator-type festive bloodbath we will never know as the request was turned down on health and safety grounds. Good luck with the ‘most-of-my-friends-would-say-I-have-a-good-personality’ type introductions gentlemen. But it does make one wonder what is a day in the life of someone like larger than life? What must they do? In Pigglyland what must Greg Hall do to turn from unassuming and perfect gentleman to Godzilla on match days? Drink battery acid instead of juice? Bathe in nuclear waste instead of most people’s morning shower? Skip cars across Lake Ontario the way small boys skip stones? Tear down condemned buildings by hand as a warm up? Whatever he does it works and just like some poor deluded fool thinking he has the stuff to keep Mariah happy so some poor deluded rugby player takes the pitch thinking he can stop the beast. And just like how Mariah’s marriages and relationships have gone south they find out the hard way that they can’t.
Godzilla continued his rich vein of form against the Beach and was damn near unplayable again as the Pigs recorded their third win in a row scoring eight tries in a 44-24 victory over the Beach. Teams that can play an expansive game understand that in order to do so one must earn the right to go wide. The 2s understand this and the balance between driving forward play thus tying in their opponents pack and then releasing the backline was perfect. From the start the Pigs were explosive with ball in hand. The pack were dynamic working the ball upfield with Ben Cotter, Jon Pigozzo and Godzilla proving particularly troublesome for the Beach. The backs moved the ball wide with Jordan Partridge, at center, making a lovely break. When Ivan Drago fights the eponymous hero in Rocky IV, towards the end of their fight Drago tells his corner “He's not human, he's like a piece of iron”. Watching Nikita Lavreka with ball in hand evokes the same sense of dread. From the resulting ruck the exceptionally powerful Nikita received the ball on his wing. Despite a multitude of defenders in close proximity Nikita emerged unscathed and unsullied and sprinted clear from the half way line and scored unopposed in the corner.
The Beach came at the Pigs but when one of their backs was stripped of the ball by Todd Cornford Bay Street had prime counter attacking ball. Chris Boyack made good ground followed by Lavreka with Matt Riggs supporting like any good flanker and scoring in the corner. A well deserved try for one of the Pigs unsung stars. The next score was exquisite and had class stamped all over it. Moving the ball wide from inside their 22 Jordan Page at 15 held his man and gave a gorgeous no-look pop pass to Partridge looping him. This extra space gave Cornford the opportunity to light up his wing. Godzilla took half the Beach pack on a backpack tour of Sunnybrook before the quintessentially English Tom Abbs thought one on one was a fairer battle. Bay Street were now deep in their opponents half and when the ball was moved wide to Cornford he forced his winger to commit and gave an inside pass to the supporting Liam Boyle who ran in to score. It was sublime and encapsulated everything about the style of champagne rugby Bay Street strives to play.
Stunned by the start the Beach began to come more into the game. The big units in their pack began to rumble and they then found space for their dangerous backs to use. The Pigs defense was good though and a goal line stance by the pack was magnificently defended. This didn’t deter the Beach though as the game progressed they came more and more into it and started to respond with their own tries. The Pigs needed a response and from a Beach attacking scrum the outstanding Cotter tackled their 8 man and turned over the ball. Godzilla did his thing and then Prince hit Lavreka with a long pass whose arc took him outside the covering defenders allowing him to touch down for his second of the half.
Not wishing to be outshone Partridge soon got in on the act. From the restart the Pigs moved the ball wide to Cornford. Similar to Meatloaf Todd found himself all revved up with no place to go thanks to the covering defense and kicked deep into the Beach’s 22. Their attempt to run the ball back was foiled by a Boyle tackle and when Cotter secured the ball Partridge was the beneficiary to score his first of the day. Immediately from the restart Bay Street struck again. Mike Wade went on a barnstorming run. Pigozzo, who has been simply brilliant this season, ran like a center and showed hands like a magician in slipping a pass in the tackle to Partridge. In boxing terms this was a no-contest. Partridge took off and even if the Beach has jet packs strapped to their backs they still would have come second in this race. Head pinned back, legs whirring and with only one thing on his mind over he went to record his teams sixth try of the half.
The second half was an open affair and the Beach were superb in running the ball from everywhere and showing why they are such a strong club at every level. They had Bay Street under huge pressure during the half but were dealt a hammer blow soon after the restart. Attacking in Bay Street’s half the Beach took the ball into contact where a maul was formed. Abbs not only stole the ball but broke free to put the Pigs on the front foot. Pigozzo took the pass and sprinted clear of the Beach’s backline to score under the posts. None too shabby for a prop. The Beach didn’t give up and if anything were even more motivated to show how good they are. And they were very good. Bay Street had to be at their best to win this game and they were.
The piece de resistance though came from Godzilla. Abbs won a lineout on the Pigs 10 meter line and the ball was spun wide. Partridge made a half break whereupon the Beach’s worst nightmare appeared on the half way line for the pass. Godzilla + ball + space + tacklers + anti aircraft rockets = try. And again, it was nothing to do with a lack of courage or technique by the Beach. They were excellent throughout. Rather it was sheer power and speed that saw Greg either evade the first tackler or simply run through the rest of them. It was both beautiful and painful to watch depending on whether one was festooned in pink or blue.
Larger than life, indestructible, has starred in films and wears pink. Mariah, we have your champion. Over to you Match.com.
The 1939 song ‘We'll Meet Again’ as sang by Dame Vera Lynn is one of the most famous of WWII and resonated with soldiers going off to fight and their families and sweethearts. The assertion that "we'll meet again" is optimistic, as many soldiers did not survive to see their loved ones again. It’s been covered from artists as diverse as Barry Manilow to The Kinks to Johnny Cash to being referenced in Pink Floyd’s ‘Vera’ and was used in the final scene of Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film Dr. Strangelove as a montage of nuclear bombs detonate. It’s bittersweet and those are the feelings when we say farewell to one of the most popular pigs, Alain van Thiel, as he played his last game for the club before moving to pastures new. Alain is just a great clubman who has played from the 1s to the 3s at center, wing, flank or lock without complaint, always whole heartedly and with no little skill. It is safe to say the Pigs will miss him but perhaps not as much as those who had to face him: Alain being a firm believer in the idiom that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
The Pigs recorded a thumping victory over a strangely toothless Saracens side. Normally games between the two sides are combative and tight but this was not and it would be disrespectful to both teams, not to mention patronizing to Saracens, to suggest the game was close. 40-5 at the half and a final score of 66-5 recording 10 tries to 1 tells its own story. The Pigs were good and maintained ruthlessness for the full 80 minutes. It is perhaps not a coincidence that the pack warm up taken by the DOR focused the minds and saw Bay Street play with a sustained direction and purpose. The Pigs also had a lovely combination of youth and experience in addition to striking a perfect balance at 9, 10 and 12 through Tom Mathews, Liam Boyle and Alex Prince who, combined, controlled the tempo of the game.
The opening score came from a turnover when the Saracens center was stripped of the ball in contact inside the Pigs 22. Boyle and Prince combined and a missed pass found Nikita Lavreka. Spurred on by a vociferous Pigs support Nikita rounded his winger and outpaced the covering defense to score a fabulous 60 meter try.
Godzilla was in his usual rampaging beast mode. From the restart he gathered the ball and took half the Saracens pack with him as he made 40 meters before finally being brought down. Boyle and Prince combined to release Taylor Nash, coated in Teflon as he is, to work his magic and when Jason Lemar was brought down just short Prince barged his way over. Waiting for the conversion to be taken the author was asked would he tackle Greg at full pace head on? The response after careful consideration was ‘yes’ with the proviso I had a terminal illness and assisted suicide was not an option. Otherwise it might seem safer to place ones member in the hands of a madman with a pair of scissors than face a fully rampaging Hall.
In the week that saw Vince, Drama, Turtle and Jon Goode’s Hollywood alter ego Ari Gold unleashed on the big screen how apt that it was Doug Henderson’s entourage were unleashed on Saracens. Jordan Page and Mark McKettrick both made their Pigs debut and were very impressive. Page showed all the class that made him a Beach first team player before that dreaded word, career, takes precedence and terrorized Saracens when he countered and was a bastion in defense when called upon. McKettrick was electric with ball in hand and almost impossible to pin down. As for Doug, he had one of his best ever games in that he was at a wedding in Ottawa.
It was Page that set up Godzilla’s first try fielding a relieving kick and running it straight back using his sheer physical size and speed to strike deep into Saracens half. The ball was whipped to Hall and in he sauntered almost untouched.
Page again was instrumental in Bay Street’s next try. Instead of running a kick back his howitzer boot saw the ball go from one 22 to the other with the ball rolling into touch just short of Saracens tryline. Saracens erred clearing their lines with a loose pass and the Pigs turned the ball over. After a couple of rumbles Ken Ting wriggled over and notched up his first ever score for the club.
The back row of Conor Young, Matt Riggs and Godzilla continued to make big gains and big hits. Riggs turned ball over at a tackle and when the ball came to Page it was almost inevitable that he would score. He did not disappoint.
The last score of the half came full circle with Nikita again the beneficiary. Thomas Abbs soared to claim lineout ball in the Pigs 22. Page again hit the line and Nash released Lavreka on the half way line who powered through to score this second and the Pigs fifth of the half.
How fitting in his last game that Alain van Thiel opened the scoring in the second half almost immediately from kickoff taking an offload and smashing his way over.
Bay Street spent most of the game in Saracens half and perhaps the best try was their next one. Abbs won the lineout on the 22 and the pack mauled forward with Russell Browne directing traffic from the front. Christian Soldiers may go Onward as sung by The Salvation Army and the civil rights movement but onward also went the Pigs pack tight, right and straight over Saracens line with Abbs at the bottom of the pile.
McKettrick, Hall and Mike Orlando again all touched down to complete the scoring. When the teams meet again on July 18th at Ladies Aux one can be sure it will be a very different Saracens side that turns up as they are a proud club. Be certain the Pigs will be good as well and although we won’t have van Thiel in our ranks I’m sure we will meet again some sunny day. All the best Alain from everyone in the club.
Firstly congratulations to Saracens for their victory on Saturday. They played well capitalizing on every opportunity presented to them and deserved their victory. Secondly referees call games as they see it. They are not infallible but they get more things right than wrong. Without them we would not have a league to play in and they deserve the respect of all players and supporters. Thirdly it’s good for the league that teams can beat each other. It makes it exciting and close games are a lot more fun to play in or watch than blow outs. Losing, as much as it hurts, focuses the mind and teams can learn more from them than victories.
So where did it go wrong for the Pigs? In truth the precision that was a hallmark in their opening two games was missing. Whether that is down to a good and brave Saracens defense or players having an off day can be debated although, in truth, it was probably a combination of the two. It was a case of what the lord giveth with one hand he taketh away with the other. The team got into some great positions before butchering several try scoring opportunities by supporting players overrunning the pass, the ball carrier taking that step too far, knocking balls on or giving a poor pass that gave the supporting player no chance.
Van Morrison sang “there’ll be days like these” but he was referring to when everything falls into place and life is great. Well for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and when things didn’t go well for Bay Street they went exceedingly well for the Saracens. Their pack was good, their scrum half tremendous and their backline rock solid in defense. When was the last time the Pigs were held to zero at the half? Answers on a postcard please. Saracens scored a penalty and try to lead 10-0 after 40 minutes.
The Pigs knew they had to set the tempo at the start of the second half and did just that. Receiving the kick off Bay Street set the ball up and Spencer Morgan ran it back into the Saracens half. Ryan Tomlinson, who was herculean in his efforts, made a half break when the ball was spun the opposite side and the magnificent Dave Jacks made further ground despite the efforts of three of the Saracens pack. Dave Burton moved the ball wide with Noah Harrison making the final pass to Jon Mosales. Mo slipped between the covering flanker and opposite wing to touch down and open the Pigs account with Burton adding the conversion. A thumping tackle from Ian Davies soon after was penalized by the referee and Saracens kicked a long penalty to extend their lead.
Bay Street came more into the game but again their final pass was lacking. Close to their opponents line poor communication saw the ball knocked on and Saracens had a relieving scrum. Their kick missed touch and Mo ran it back finding Tom Schwitzer in support. Tomlinson was the link man again and his deft pass was juxtaposed by the freight train-like line of Trevor Anderson who was unstoppable in his quest for the line. Burton added the conversion and the lead was down to two points.
A further pigs transgression was penalized by another penalty and although Bay Street pressed their final pass could not unlock Saracens defense. An intercept try was a killer blow and extended their lead. Never giving up Bay Street went back on the attack with Jacks again a handful. From his trademark burst Spencer and Mo made ground into Saracen half. Harrison was the link man and Jess Landry and Tomlinson combined in the center to create space for Tomlinson. Taking three defenders out of play Tomlinson’s offload back inside was picked up by Jacks and he got a deserved try.
Four points down and the Pigs were living in the Saracens half but they could not turn their pressure into a winning score. Saracens defended resolutely and held out for a deserved victory. The Pigs were unhappy as one would expect but on a weekend that saw the world of rugby tragically lose one of its stars, Jerry Collins, it’s important to remember where rugby fits in the grand scheme of things. It was left to a combination of The Irish Embassy and Pravda to temporarily numb the pain and kill the brain cells holding the memories of the game.
Last week's game is exactly that. It's onwards and upwards now. This week the Pigs take on the Beach. One can be assured that there will be a focus of minds and backlash come 3:00 Saturday afternoon. As George Bernard Shaw said “never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” The Keenan Premier A clubs may be about to find out what that means.
“I don’t drink coffee I take tea my dear. I like my toast done on one side. And you can hear it in my accent when I talk I’m an Englishman in New York.” So sang Sting but although we reside in Toronto and not New York Hot Josh Weaver is certainly the quintessential Englishman abroad. Bedeviled by a recurrent knee injury Hot Josh cut a frustrated and forlorn figure from the mid-point of last season as he missed out on the Pigs Championship win (and indeed the Pigs missed him) having to fall back on his dashing good looks, rakish charm and sartorial elegance to comfort him. To the dismay of one unnamed Pig his significant other, when reviewing some game pictures, failed to see her other half score a try but did enquire as to who was gentleman stripped to his waist in the background looking on. Who else but Hot Josh. Truly it’s a hard knock life for some. Happily though the 2015 season sees the hugely popular Weaver back looking fitter, trimmer and, naturally, hotter than ever. On Friday Hot Josh’s play both in tight and loose was sublime whilst his athleticism was breathtakingly good for the full 80 minutes.
Fielding another highly mobile pack the Pigs support play and lines of running were exceptional with Noah Harrison and Dave Jacks superb exponents of the art. The Blues strength is their backline and they attempted to bring them into play at each opportunity. From a scrum inside the Pigs half they moved the ball wide but Taylor Nash read the play beautifully and his tackle knocked the ball loose and in to Pigs hands. This led to Spencer Morgan hitting the line at pace and his pass to Nash sent him clear. Andy Tyler was in support and when he was pulled down just short of the tryline a desperate clearance gave the Pigs an attacking lineout. Necessity being the mother of invention saw Dave Burton, despite not having hooked since a schoolboy and still playing at 10, throwing into the lineout. Weaver soared, Thomas Schwitzer peeled and over he went to open the Pigs account.
Mississauga attacked again through their backs but the impressive Nash turned the ball over once more and Ian Davies was quickest to react. Throwing a long pass to Morgan he cut infield where Hot Josh showed a turn of heel no doubt developed over years of escaping hordes of screaming, doe-eyed girls to drive deep into the Blues 22. A lineout followed, again won by Weaver, and the Pigs mauled the ball. Latching on like a barnacle to a whale's bum Burton fell to the ground and scored as the forwards mauled over the line.
There was little respite for Mississauga. Weaver claimed the restart and fed Harrison who made a good 40 meters with ball in hand despite close attention from his opponents. Andy T whipped the ball wide where the Grand Maester of center play Jess Landry stepped inside the covering defenders and fended off the fullback to register Bay Street’s third try.
The Apollo missions of the 1960s were a testament to man’s ability to challenge himself, succeed and demonstrate our ingenuity. They were also aesthetically beautiful. The images of just before liftoff when the rocket's five engines ignited, sending a sheet of flame over the launch pad and about 20 acres of the surrounding marshland as the launch platform falls away live long in the memory. Then with an immense roar, the booster rocket took off into the sky and launched man’s journey to the moon. Almost as tall and with his two man pod acting as a launch pad Schwitzer at full stretch in the lineout is a beautiful and commanding sight. Using lineout ball off the top in midfield Burton fed the ball to Jon Mosales coming off his wing. With more room in a phone booth than was available to Mo he somehow stepped two defenders immediately in front of him and sprinted in to score. As Burton’s took the ball for the conversion he remarked “I don’t know how you do it Mo”. Quite.
Mississauga got off the mark when a Pigs pass was intercepted and they ran through to score. As the game wore on and opened up so their backline became increasingly dangerous adding two more tries to their tally. Given any space the Blues backs were absolutely lethal in exploiting it and but for the staunch and sometimes desperate Pigs defense the score would have been much closer. This was not an easy game for Bay Street by any means. The Pigs needed its experienced leaders and when called upon they did not disappoint. From a scrum on the half way Ian Davies made an intelligent half break running wide and creating an inside gap that Weaver spotted. Taking the pop pass Hot Josh sprinted home to score and cap a brilliant performance.
More Blues back play saw them repelled once more close to the Pigs tryline. Jacks turned the ball over and, at his snarling best, smashed his way forward daring anyone to stop him. Tom Kimball supported and his beautiful floated pass found Nash who went on another exhilarating run. Jordan Partridge took his pass and showed electrifying speed to touch down in the corner. The Pigs scored soon afterwards with almost the same combination. Jacks again turning the ball over finding Nash whose smart line drew defenders before giving the ball to Partridge. Same pass, same result with Jordan getting his second of the evening, the Pigs seventh and his third in two games.
Undeterred Mississauga pressed Bay Street again pushing for a fourth try and with it a bonus point for their efforts. Wave after wave came the Blues but unlike King Canute the Pigs were able to stop this tide. The pack were superb and the backs whether operating in scramble defense or from set play were disciplined and resolute. Leaders lead, doers did and it was magnificent to watch. Whether the Pigs can ever be as hot as Josh remains to be seen but winning their opening two fixtures with maximum points secured they are certainly giving their all to achieve it.
It may interest you to learn that whilst he might have caused untold death and destruction, in between doing the odd bit of charity work, Godzilla has been heralded by Japanese authorities as a hero and given citizenship as a reward. This is true. The Pigs may have ties designed in Paris but made in China that they present to dignitaries from time to time but even the considerable powers of the troika of Messrs Goode, Shippen and Tait cannot grant citizenship….that we know of. If they could no doubt they would confer all this and more on Bay Street’s very own Godzilla, Greg Hall, after his display against Mississauga on Friday night. Introduced from as far back as the 1950’s Godzilla is shown to possess immense physical strength and muscularity, is immune to conventional weaponry thanks to its rugged hide and ability to regenerate, and as a result of surviving a nuclear explosion, it cannot be destroyed by anything less powerful. The 2015 version was the night’s stand out player in contributing 20 of the teams 33 points scored through scoring four tries, not to mention grabbing the game by the scruff of its neck and dragging Bay Street back into it when the Blues were mightily close to overhauling them. And it’s not that Mississauga shied away from tackling Hall, far from it, but it’s his running style that makes him so dreadfully difficult to stop. Greg runs with his knees so high that one risks damaged ribs or worse from a head-on tackle and going chest high has as paltry a return as foolhardy soldiers firing their rifles at the beast. Greg Hall has genuine cult hero status.
And, boy, was Godzilla needed on Friday. The 2s have been frustrating to watch this season in that they have been like the proverbial hare dashing out of its blocks only to run out of gas and be caught by the tortoise. 21-0 up last week before being overhauled at the death and 0-21 ahead again before the score was brought back to 17-21. True to form the Pigs were quick out of their blocks from the first whistle with Prince using his backs and forwards to great effect in driving the ball forward. Nikita Lavreka, Alex Koppel, Tom Mathews and Godzilla were particularly prevalent. Driving deep in the Blues 22 Prince made a half break and being so close to the line Frank Orlando smashed his way over to open the scoring. The Pigs were on the offense again almost immediately when Hall went over for his first of the night after picking up from the back of a scrum and barreling over. Special mention to Josh Marion who showed he is no stranger to the dark arts of forward play by ensuring the covering flanker was slower than he otherwise might have been in covering the ground to Hall.
Shortly afterwards Bay Street extended their lead through Mike Orlando. Again, from a scrum, Godzilla rampaged with Mathews and Lavreka continuing his fine work. Always with an eye for a gap Prince made another half-break and popped the ball to Orlando the Elder. Growing up Mike may have been slower in getting to the dinner table than Frank but his pace was more than enough to beat the covering defense and score the Pigs third try of the half, all of which were converted by Koppel.
Mississauga were not to be deterred though and clawed their way back into the game. The Blues are a young side with tremendous potential. An intercept try got them off the mark and Mississauga sniffed blood. Their pack put Bay Street under huge pressure turning the ball over numerous times and their backs (Mississauga always seem to have great backs) ran from everywhere. Two more tries were added in quick succession with thankfully only one converted to leave the Blues just four points behind on the scoreboard and in the ascendency on the pitch. In truth these were concerning times and the game could have gone either way.
Doug Henderson inspired the fightback. Rising to claim a lineout, quick ball was transferred to Lavreka and then back inside to Koppel. The Black Knight is one Monty Python’s most beloved characters who, upon losing an arm, insists “Tis but a scratch", later insisting that he has "had worse" and that losing a leg is “just a flesh wound”. Funny but painful all the same. Equally painful must be playing on a broken leg which is what Koppel did: a break suffered prior to the first game of the season might I add. This could be comprehended had Koppel been subdued or noticeably in pain but that he has simply been outstanding in both games makes it all the more remarkable. Get well soon Koppel. Koppel stormed forward once more and when Prince fed Godzilla the following chain of events were triggered: prop handed off, one waist-high tackle broken, second row fended off, tripped, got back up, ran through another front row player and brushed off the full back’s challenge to score under the posts and give the Pigs some much needed breathing space.
Mississauga came back again but were repelled through the good work of Dave Manii, Alain van Thiel, Orlando the Elder and Koppel in the backs whilst up front Jon Pigozzo was again outstanding ably assisted by Paulo Barreto, Bilal Hussein and Henderson. The double H’s were instrumental in the next passage of play by tackling and holding up an opponent. Henderson ripped the ball and charged upfield. Not wishing to have his thunder stolen Godzilla picked the ball up from the base of the next ruck and scored untouched. The Pigs final score was from another Henderson lineout. Koppel again broke the gain line before three defenders brought him to the ground. Nikita cut back inside and Godzilla was the recipient to notch his fourth of the evening. A stunning display.
Relief was the overriding emotion at the end of the game. Relief that a dangerous opponent had been defeated, relief that Bay Street had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and relief that Godzilla wears baby pink. Cult hero and 2016 star of Comic Con: Greg Hall we salute you.
There are many forms of brotherhood. Blood brothers where two men not related by birth swear loyalty to each other, Eskimo brothers where two men learn they have both had intimate knowledge of the same woman at different times, a religious Brotherhood dedicated to Christ by taking vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience. There is ‘Brothers in Arms’, the 1985 Dire Straits album, recognized as dealing the final deathblow to cassette tapes and bringing CDs to the musical forefront. There is also a brother of the sibling kind although this is not to be confused with Doug Henderson’s assertion that he has a ‘twin cousin’. Confused by that? You should be. Saturday saw the Pigs play Barrie in the opening game of the season and united by blood by separated by their respective team colors Ryan and Rory Tomlinson battled each other for 80 minutes each giving their all and contributing handsomely to their sides efforts. It is a joy to watch one Tomlinson but watching two seems almost avaricious such is their talent and skills level. That both are at the peak of their powers, were lining up (almost) opposite each other at 12 and 10 and are fiercely competitive just added to the occasion.
Not that the other 28 players were bystanders. This was a terrific game and if the scoreline suggests a one sided contest it was anything but. Barrie are a very good team indeed with some outstanding players and a tremendous captain. Perhaps the difference between the sides can be put down to how clinical the Pigs were when opportunities arose. The handling and offloading was also a noticeable difference and one wonders whether the regular playing of touch rugby by so many of the 1st team throughout the off-season was a contributing factor. Six tries to one when territory was roughly split between the two would lend credence to this hypothesis.
But for any players to shine it takes the effort of others to enable them. The pack was immense and although different in terms of personnel it was the same in terms of produce. Max Rockatansky the titular hero, or anti-hero, of the post-apocalyptic ‘Mad Max’ franchise opens the latest ‘Fury Road’ tome with the line “I was a cop searching for a righteous cause”. Well Dave Jacks took on the mantle of Mad Max on Saturday and his cause was wanton destruction of any moving limb, hair or feature bedecked in a light blue and white hooped jersey. Being the righteous dude he is and adopting an equal opportunities employer frame of mind Jacks didn’t care whether his cause was through tackling that would have put a charging rhino on its arse or running like said rhino with ball in hand. Hell of a player, hell of a guy, hell of a game. Close behind Jacks was the melantonin-challenged Ian Davies, Tom Clancy and Noah Harrison: all superb throughout.
From the start the Pigs adopted the approach that a good offense is the best form of defense and pinned Barrie in their own half. A half-break from Jon Mosales resulted in a penalty which Dave Burton dissected the posts with. From there Bay Street attacked again pinning Barrie in their 22. Time may not stand still for any man but class can sometimes make it appear it does and it was no surprise that it was Jess Landry who got the first try. From a Jacks break the ball was recycled to Landry who checked, looked up and waltzed through untouched, despite a crowded defense, to score beside the posts with Burton adding the conversion.
The Pigs went on full blitz mode for the rest of the half with sweeping moves left to right and back again stretching their opponents. Strong carries by Tom Clancy and Philippe Rouanet drove deep into Barrie’s half. Andy Tyler spun the ball wide where Tom Kimball and Harrison exchanged passes and when Kimball went on an arcing run close to the touchline Harrison was on-hand to accept his offload to score.
Thomas Schwitzer was instrumental in the next try. Making his Pigs debut Schwitzer soared highest to claim a lineout. Landry tormented the Barrie defence with a mazy run and when the ball came back Schwitzer gave a delicate pass to the onrushing Harrison. Jordan Partridge was in support and left the covering defense in his wake to record the Pigs third try of the half.
Back came Bay Street again. Burton missed a penalty kick and from a Barrie knock on from the dropout the Pigs had an attacking scrum. Kimball picked and fed Tyler who chipped behind the onrushing midfield. Tomlinson was the quickest in both body and mind and claimed the ball as well as a covering defender to dot down for the Pigs fourth and final try of the half. Barrie’s only score was a penalty to leave the scoreline 29-3.
Barrie came out with all guns blazing in the second half determined to give a better account of themselves and that they did. They threw everything at the Pigs who, although bent, refused to buckle. This was sustained pressure too. Schwitzer came to the fore again stealing a vital turnover and taking off down the pitch like a newborn giraffe.
Not content with this contribution Schwitzer stole the resulting lineout and when Mo went on his trademark catch-me-if-you-can run Bay Street had the look of killers about them. Harrison and Jacks were first in support and found Tomlinson who drew his brother before releasing Kimball to score the Pigs fifth try in the corner.
Barrie responded when the Pigs were penalized for holding onto the ball at half way. They flashed the ball through their backs and when their winger was illegally hauled down Rory Tomlinson tapped quickly and scored under the posts much to his brother’s chagrin.
Still Barrie came and still the Pigs repelled them. Spencer Morgan put in some monster hits, Mo caused consternation with ball in hand and the spine of Burton, Kimball and Andy T kept everyone on their toes. 5 meters from their own line Mad Jacks hit the Barrie attacker so hard that ball and man went in two different and opposite directions. Kimball was on hand and swept the ball to the Pigs latest English import Dave Edwards a beautifully balanced and wonderfully talented player. Edwards took off and his intelligent running lines saw him evade the chasing pack to score the last try and bring the final score to 39-10.
Brothers embraced, hands were shaken and both teams left to reflect on their day. The Pigs can be satisfied with their season opener and the depth they are adding to the squad. The Tomlinson’s will continue to impress, Mad Max will look for his next righteous cause and the Pigs will continue to improve with each passing week. Plus ça change in the world of Bay Street RFC.
“Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. Giving all your love to just one man. You’ll have bad times, and he’ll have good times. Doin’ things that you don’t understand”. Whether it’s Tammy Wynette or Jake and Elwood Blues serenading a rough crowd at ‘Bob’s Country Bunker’ ‘Stand by your man’ is a song that could bring a tear to a glass eye and covers a multitude of occasions. Watching Bay Street 2nds last Saturday was one of those. 21-0 up at the half and losing 21-24 with a last minute try was heart breaking for all involved. It was the classic love story. The Pigs started out like lovers who had found their soulmate: in perfect harmony, finishing each other’s sentences and being able to discuss politics, religion and Nickleback without falling out. By the end of the 80 minutes they weren’t communicating and were like ships passing in the night heading for divorce court. Where did it all go wrong?
It had all started out so well. The Pigs played with a tempo and understanding that had their opponents at a loss. Frank Orlando was like a hungry bear looking for his first meal fresh from his winter hibernation swatting players aside with impunity. Alex Koppel was in devastating form in the centre and was nigh on unplayable, Jon Pigozzo was outstanding and Ken Ting had the game of his life. Also Taylor Nash was back after missing last season.
Nash is a firm fans favorite with abs sculpted by Michelangelo, hair not matched since Al Pacino’s in 1995’s crime thriller ‘Heat’ and rugby skills to die for. He put them all to the fore on Saturday to devastating effect notching two tries. The first was set up by the fore mentioned Orlando who required his customary three tacklers to take him down. The ball was spun out to Nash on the 10 meter line who stepped the full back before rounding the winger and outpacing him to the corner. It was a fabulous score matched by Koppel’s brilliant conversion.
It would be disingenuous not to acknowledge how well Barrie played on the day and equally they must be congratulated on a deserved victory and commended for the way they never gave up and played right until the death. Barrie deserved their victory. They came right back at Bay Street from the restart and it was determined play by the pack and, in particular, the aggressiveness of the midfield trio of Prince, Koppel and Nash that kept Barrie at bay. A Nash midfield tackle knocked the ball loose which was gathered by Mike Orlando who, not wishing to be outdone by his little bigger brother, went on his own barnstorming run. Tom Mathews swept the ball from the ruck and a slick handling combination of Tom Abbs, Nikita Lavreka, Matt Riggs, Pigozzo and Chris Boyack led to Nash receiving the ball on the Barrie 22. Taking a line between the two centers Nash then stepped four covering defenders to score untouched under the posts with Koppel, again, adding the extra points.
Barrie spent much of the rest of the first half in Pigs territory but the defense held firm. Jamie LeHuquet, Riggs, Pigozzo, Ting and Chris Aylward put in huge shifts repelling their opponents. From a lineout Barrie kicked deep into Pigs territory with Dave Edwards fielding at full back. Faced with just the four defenders Edwards jinked through them all with footwork so good that one wonders whether The Arctic Monkeys had him in mind when penciling ‘I bet you look good on the dancefloor’. Perhaps that could be argued more strongly if Dave had longer hair, or any hair for that matter but hirsutely challenged or not he put the fear of God into the opposition every time he touched the ball. Having being brought down the ball was moved wide to Aylward who made a superb 50 meter break taking play right up to the Barrie line but his pass was correctly adjudged forward wiping out Nikita’s score. Still 14-0 to Bay Street.
Shortly after LeHuquet went for a rumble and his offload set up another Pigs attack. Boyack took the ball on and Mathews and Prince found Nash in space. Bamboozling three defenders Nash found Koppel who decided he quite fancied some contact in the shortest distance possible. Nash took the return pass and fed Mike Orlando in support who took ball and fullback over the line to score in the far corner. Koppel once again added the conversion. Edwards went on another devastating run immediately afterwards and had Pigozzo in support. Between them they took the ball from the Pigs 22 to the Barrie tryline. White line fever occurred though and an knock on from the ensuing ruck allowed Barrie to clear.
21-0 at the half and all looked good. The Pigs used the opportunity to make a number of changes to ensure all got decent game time. Barrie came out in the second half and really opened up play with their outstanding 9 dictating their pace. They learned their lesson from the first half that the ways to the Pigs tryline was not through Bay Streets midfield and changed their game accordingly with superb results. Bay Street battled and put up a rearguard action but were rarely out of their own half or 22 for that matter. The signs were ominous. Barrie pressed and pressed and were rewarded for their efforts with three second half tries with the third scored with just a couple of minutes left to make it 21-17. With the clock ticking down their fullback gathered a relieving kick and countered spinning the ball to his winger who found himself in oceans of space. Stepping inside the gallant and despairing Pigozzo, who was the only defender covering across, the winger had a clear run in to score the winning try. Barrie were elated, the Pigs devastated.
Congratulations to Barrie and no doubt the return game will be another cracker. Tammy Wynette had it right, sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. Sometimes it’s even harder to be a Pig.
Bay Street were victorious in the 2015 Truro 7s defeating Pictou RFC 6-0 in the final. After winning the 2014 TRU Championship what a superb way to start off the 2015 season. Congratulations to all involved. Profiles of the squad are below.
David Burton (captain)
Truro Position: Scrum half
Burton is many things to many people: rugby player, hipster, purveyor of sound legal advice and a leader on the pitch. A superb tactician Burton is constantly thinking and planning 2-3 phases ahead and always searching for weaknesses. Dave has the respect and admiration of his fellow Pigs except when passing off his left side. Burton believes that were there a Game of Thrones for Ridgebacks then Bru would be The Mountain. If that is the case does that make Burton Arya Stark? Their hair and build is similar after all.
Truro Position: forward
Rumor has it that not only is Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’ written about Clancy but so in awe of Tom was Miley that she got a matching haircut. Whether this was after seeing Clancy on the rugby pitch or in Pravda remains unclear although apart from a change of clothes it’s debatable whether there is a difference. This irresistible force will go in search of his immovable object and although many will be called few will be chosen. Expect Clancy to be one of the most popular tourists off the pitch and one of the most feared on it.
Truro Position: hooker
The current ‘Impact Player of the Year’ award Davies is the quintessential ‘Jeckll and Hyde’ player. A total gentleman off the pitch and a controlled lunatic on it Davies is the player every team needs but whose work is rarely seen or appreciated by those not involved. Selfless, hard working with an appetite for destruction that Guns N’ Roses could only dream of Ian has rightly earned the accolade of that most prestigious and sought after title ‘a player’s player’. No doubt the opposition in Truro will come to learn why. Don’t poke the bear.
Truro Position: forward
Noah is the Pigs ‘Rookie of the Year’ and a richly deserved accolade it is. Just as his hero ‘Pooh Bear’ got himself into jams rooting for jars of honey so Noah has adopted this attitude at rucks and made himself as big a nuisance poaching balls much to the chagrin of the opposition and occasional referee. A fabulous ball carrier with a terrific work rate Noah is also the owner of numerous garish garments that could burn retinas. Sunglasses are more a medical necessity than a fashion accessory in such company.
Truro Position: forward
If the Tasmanian Devil got a hair cut it would look like Dave Jacks on the rugby pitch albeit one would hope Jacks is more articulate. Hard as nails in defense, hard running in attack but blessed with beautiful vision and soft hands Jacks had a huge impact in his debut season for the Pigs. After a few of his trademark runs expect channels to open like Moses parting the Red Sea as the opposition realize discretion is the better part of valor. A firm fans favorite.
Truro Position: forward
Those lifeless shark-like black eyes are beginning to flicker as the rugby season approaches and should roll over white come this weekend as Kimball takes on all that Truro can throw at him. It will of course be pointless given that Chuck Norris is now wearing Tom Kimball pajamas and Kimball himself recently ordered a Big Mac at Burger King, and got it. Tom is simply one of the hardest, competitive and most inspiring players in the TRU. Truro will experience Kimball at his ball carrying and defensive bellicose best.
Truro Position: Outside back
This quadragenarian remains, despite the correlation between his advancing age and loss of hair, one of the best backs in the club and hugely sought after each season. Brilliant lines of running, soft hands and teak-tough defense consistently sees Landry come out on top against opponents. If, come May, half of Landry’s rugby genes make their way into his firstborns makeup Ontario will have a superb player on their hands. Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night” seems written for Landry. “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”. Quite Jess, quite.
Truro Position: Outside back
There are few players with the ability to both bamboozle opponents and teammates in the same play. Paul Hardcastle’s ‘19’, written about the Vietnam War, where the soldiers “didn’t really know what was going on” could equally be applied to playing with Mo. A maverick powered by kinetic energy with a huge work rate, dancing feet and body swerves that, at his peak, Michael Jackson couldn’t replicate it would be a foolish man to bet against Mo finishing as top try scorer along with the cleanest kit leaving opponents in his wake.
Truro Position: Out half / Outside back
Spencer has the rare distinction of playing for the club in every back positions but it would be a gross injustice to think of him as a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’. Spencer has consistently been one of the Pigs most effective and go-to players regardless of position. His one handed offload to Bucky in the Championship against the Nomads was a thing of beauty. Spencer also has the ability to really get under the skin of his opposite number. He may have the face of an angel but not the tongue of one.
Truro Position: Out half
One of the most naturally gifted and talented players likely to set foot in Truro expect Tomlinson to light up the stadium and be a firm crowd favorite. Nimble footwork, dazzling hands and the ability to ghost through gaps should prove very handy getting rounds in at the bar. Tomlinson is none too shabby on the pitch either. The jewel in the Pigs crown Tomlinson is a joy to watch and a nightmare to play against. In short Ryan Tomlinson is how God intended this glorious game to be played.
As a child no birthday party was complete without a game of Musical Chairs. All eyes would be trained on the adult as giggling, excited children circled cautiously round the chairs before mayhem broke loose when the music stopped as each child rush to claim one. Tears inevitably followed as the last kid standing was led away from the mirth and merriment before being consoled by hordes of candies containing enough ‘E’ numbers to ensure the Duracell’s energy bunny would look comatose in comparison to little Johnny over the next day or two much to his parents chagrin. If, as the old adage goes, forwards win matches and the backs by how much one could break it down further in that a team’s back row will determine whether that team plays on the front or back foot, secures or delays quick ball depending whether they are attacking or defending and disrupts the oppositions plans or not.
Reminiscing on Bay Street’s 36-21 Championship victory over the Nomads the Pigs back row of Chris Jacks, Tom Kimball and Alistair Clark were monumental. In Musical Chairs parlance think of the kid left standing as the opponent with the ball and one of Jacks, Kimball or Clark as the music. No kid wants to be last person standing and no opponent wants to be in possession when one or all of this trio are playing. Their hits were seismic and their collective and individual toughness would have made the dystopian motorcycle gangs in Mad Max think long and hard before challenging them. On Saturday the Nomads, for all their qualities of which they have many, had no answer. And not just to the back row: this may have been Bay Street’s strength but it wasn’t as if they were exactly lacking in any other department. From 1 – 15 each Pig brought an intensity and attitude that they would not accept coming second, that this would be their day and if the Nomads were to win then they would have to produce the game of their lives.
As is so often the case between these two teams the pace and ferocity of the game was something to behold matched only by the genuine level of respect. Bay Street made the early inroads with their pack in dominant form. A lineout on halfway was claimed by Kimball with Clark and then Jacks making inroads. Philippe took a huge hit as the next ball carrier but retained possession. Alistair took the ball up to the Nomads centers and quick ruck ball gave Ryan Tomlinson the time and space to slice open the defense. His pass to Bucky was not held and the Nomads countered themselves. A long pass to their winger did not go to hand and Clark, like a killer whale hovering just as baby seals are being introduced to the ocean for their first and last time, was there to pounce. Snaffling the ball on the ground his pass found Trevor Anderson in support and over he went to open the scoring.
The Nomads responded but the Pigs defense held firm. Shortly afterwards another lineout, won by Clark jumping at 2, was the catalyst for their next try. The behemoth that is Steve Donelle took the ball up crashing through the first attempted tackle and having the skills to deftly offload the ball as the outside center struggled to contain him to his center partner Tomlinson. If Donelle is death by bludgeoning than Tomlinson is death by a 1,000 rapier cuts. Taking advantage of the disruption in the Nomads ranks he raced into their 22 before putting in a grubber kick for the supporting Bucky who was tackled off the ball over the tryline. The result was a penalty try.
Bay Street’s third try originated from brilliant defensive work from Spencer Morgan and Todd Cornford. A clearance kick from Bucky was fielded by the Nomads who ran it back. Morgan and Cornford, who were both chasing the kick, pincer tackled the attacker and ripped the ball from his grasp giving the Pigs turnover ball. Spotting a gap Andy Tyler darted through and got in behind the first line of defenders. Ian Davies was first on hand and spun the ball to Jacks whose inside pop pass to Clark coming on the angle completely wrong footed the defense. It was simplicity and beauty all at once and it left Alistair with an unopposed run in under the posts.
The back row was the genesis for the Pigs fourth try. Kimball chased a Burton kick and tacked the coving winger into touch deep in the Nomads 22 which not only gave Bay Street great field position but also possession. Not satisfied with merely creating the position Kimball won the line out also with the pack driving him forward and then Alistair taking the ball on further. Donelle took two more defenders out of the game and then, like a match made in heaven, Burton found Bucky. Graceful, eloquent, majestic, beautifully balanced and breathtakingly brilliant. Bucky is all these things and more. Taking the ball and without breaking stride he stepped between two flailing tacklers and rounded a third before diving in to score and bring the half time score to 26-0.
The first 10 minutes before and after half time are what is termed 'Championship time'. A score for the team leading during this can kill a game and conversely a conceded score can galvanize a side and give them hope. The Nomads came out strongly and determined to do themselves justice. Early pressure paid dividends as they scored a try. A second followed shortly afterwards and the Pigs lead was cut to 12.
Things appeared to go from bad to worse as Bay Street suffered three yellow cards effectively playing the second half with 14 men and at one point 13. All three, according to the referee were for ill-discipline and whether the Pigs agree or not it is a point to consider for next season.
Down to 13 men the PIgs conceded another converted try and all of a sudden with 10 minutes to go the lead was 5 points and the Nomads were a team believing this was their day. The 1s are a formidable team though and have leaders throughout. It is said that it is always darkest before the dawn and at this point it looked damned dark for the Pigs. Camped on their line and down to 13 it looked as though the Nomads may get in for another score. Davies and Noah Harrison had other ideas though and turned over a critical ball. Andy Tyler whipped the ball to Burton who put in a huge relieving kick. It was an enormous moment as it ate more time from the clock and made the Nomads start all over again.
Back to 14 the play of the game and possibly the season arrived. Picking up a clearance kick and facing his own line Todd Cornford appeared to have limited options available. Todd, believing that offence is the best form of defence, countered running at the Nomads and then putting a long grubber kick in. The covering player had at least three yards on Todd but there's gold in them there Aussie legs. From the sidelines it was like watching your horse catch the race favourite in the last 10 meters. Supporters were screaming Todd on and when his dive on the ball beat the Nomad's despairing arms the crowd, as they say, went wild. Not as wild as Todd or Trevor though who was first there in support. The Nomads were crestfallen whilst the Pigs were in rapture as both teams knew this was the winning score.
The icing on the cake was delivered a couple of minutes later when Bucky converted a penalty following pressure exerted by the back row. 36-21 and the Championship was Bay Streets.
There were joyous scenes afterwards and all well deserved. For some this was the first Championship they had won as an adult, for others it was recompense for last season whilst for others it was the reward for the sacrifices made throughout and prior to the season.
It has been another wonderful season for the club and the most successful in its short history. The players, and their significant others, should take a bow for making it so. It is the players who go on the pitch every Saturday and add another chapter in this magnificent clubs history. Peter Shippen deserves credit too as President for the structures he and his Executive have put in place to allow the players perform to the level they can. Congratulations Mr. President and may your second term be as successful.
All that remains is to thank the players and congratulate them on their success. There may be other divisions and clubs but I can't think of any other I'd rather be part of. Over and out from Bay Street RFC.
The simplicity of Tic-tac-toe makes it an ideal pedagogical tool for distracting unruly children at restaurants by teaching good sportsmanship or the branch of artificial intelligence dealing in the searching of game trees. The latter was famously captured in the film War Games where, in a final effort to prevent a nuclear war, Joshua is instructed to play tic-tac-toe against itself and learning, in the process, that when two players play flawlessly the game always ends in a draw forcing the computer to learn the concept of an unwinnable game.
Bay Street 2s 26-0 Championship victory over the Nomads may not have resulted in an unwinnable game but the way they nullified every aspect of the Nomads play must have left their opponents with the unenviable feeling that, from early on, they were in an unwinnable game. The Pigs out-thought and out-played their opponents in every aspect of play and the remarkable part of it, considering it was the Championship final, was the ease at which they prevailed. Not once, bar restarts, did the Nomads get into the Pigs half in the opening 40 minutes. In the second half bar an interception that seemed a certain try which was magnificently defended and prevented by Jordan Partridge they did not threaten either. This is not to belittle or denigrate the Nomads who are a fine team and storied club but rather to understand the efficient ruthlessness of Bay Street’s performance.
Nomads entered the game as favorites having won the previous two encounters but there is no disgrace in being an underdog: the only disgrace would be not having a plan to upset the odds. Before the game team captain Alex Prince asked his charges not to over commit to rucks and to keep putting their tackles in. The Pigs listened to his every word and executed their plan to perfection. From the kickoff Bay Street made their first tackle and then hit everything that came their way thereafter whether it be a pick at the base of a ruck or through their backs. Mark Byers was an early casualty of this when leading with his nose and coming out the other side looking like he had barely escaped from the grips of Leatherface. Bay Street kept their opponents pegged deep in their 22 and the Nomads were finding themselves equally stretched by the hard running of Alex Koppel and Nikita Lavreka and the gliding efforts of Stephane Nardin and Partridge.
Pressure can only be absorbed for so long though before something snaps. Bilal Husein, who was superb throughout and has been quite an addition to the club, charged forward bringing the ball to the 5 meter line. On the blindside Prince found Partridge. Jordan could sidestep a defender in a phone booth without a hand being touched on him and despite being close to the touchline and marked by two defenders he ghosted through to open the scoring in the corner.
From the restart Godzilla was unleashed and went on one of his obligatory destructive rumbles. The ball was worked deep into the Nomads half again with Koppel, Simmons, Jason LeMar and Chris Berrigan figuring prominently. Such a fine passage of play was deserving of a fitting climax and it came from the book of Prince and the rugby brain of Nardin. With the forwards picking and driving in close the Nomads defense was sucked in. Realizing this Prince put in a cross-field kick for Lavreka. The ball bounced over both his and the defenders heads in the in-goal area but Nardin had run a supporting line and gleefully touched down to increase the Pigs score.
The tactical kicking from Prince and Liam Boyle was a feature of the game and it kept the Nomads pinned in their half. From the restart the ball was put straight back into the Nomads half. The pack continued to work hard and force rushed decisions and mistakes. In an attempt to clear their lines the Nomads 10 sliced his kick into touch following Husein’s pressure. Simmons won the lineout and the ball went out along the backs to Lavreka who was tackled on the 22. A long pass coming back the other way from Prince found Simmons in space. With Partridge outside him and defenders rushing across Micah calmly, as if Micah is any other way, stepped inside wrong footing the Nomads and scored untouched under the posts.
From the restart the Pigs were immediately on the attack through Godzilla. Some beautifully intricate handling from Tom Mathews, Nardin and Koppel saw Stephane scythe through the Nomads. Koppel, who had a great game at 12, made further ground before being brought down. Micah had LeMar in support and although Jason was brought down just before the line he had the presence of mind to look for support with a grateful Micah taking the return pass to score his second and the Pigs fourth try. Koppel kicked an incredible conversion, to add to two previous successful attempts to bring the half time score to 26-0.
The Pigs took to the field adamant that there would be no respite. The Nomads tried to up the pace and crack Bay Street’s defence but to a man the Pigs were belligerence personified exemplified through the front row of Chris Berrigan, Chris Boyack and LeMar. Their mobility round the park and work in the tight has been a big reason for the 2s success this season. When the Nomads attempted to gain ground through a kicking game Mathews sent it back with interest or else it was run straight back at them through Koppel, Godzilla or any other Pig.
The Nomads best chance of a score came towards the end of the game when a Chase Robinson pass was intercepted. At this point the game was over as a contest but pride was at stake on both sides. The Nomads season didn’t deserve to end being shut out in the Championship game but as William Munny’s character in Unforgiven remarked whilst standing over Big Whiskey’s sheriff Little Bill Daggett with a cocked shotgun in hand protesting that he didn’t deserve to die that way sometimes “deserve’s got nothing to with it”. Jordan Partridge tracked back and not only made the tackle but in doing so knocked the ball out of the attackers hand and the danger was cleared. It was the play of the season and typified the Pigs attitude on the day. Observing from the sidelines Director of Rugby and lifelong Robinson friend, Jon Goode, remarked that the former Marine officers pass should lead to a termination of command with extreme prejudice. Had it gone to hand though it would have been the Pigs that would have been in for another try.
Nardin, at this stage playing at 15, fielded a clearing kick and ran it back with Alain van Thiel in support. Not the smallest of chaps Alain proved as difficult as he looks to tackle and brought play right back to the Nomads 22. Peter Weingarden was, as ever, first man there and taking the pass ran under the posts to touchdown only for the referee to call the play back for a forward pass. All that was left was for Godzilla to go on one last terrorizing run for old times sake and bid adieu to another wonderful personal and collective season.
In the post game huddle Jon Goode said it all. The season was indeed a hoot and its success was so much more than the 22 Pigs in the match day squad on Saturday. There were so many players who contributed throughout the season that either weren’t there on didn’t take to the pitch. This was a victory for all and should be enjoyed as such. So congratulations Pigs and enjoy the feeling of being Champions. Lord knows you deserve it.
The opening sentence of Charles Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”, might best describe Ladies Aux where the resounding victories of the 1s and 2s and entertaining 3s game was overshadowed by the circumstances that led the clubs founder and Director of Rugby, Jon Goode, from the field during the first’s game. We all wish Jon well in his recuperation and offer the same advice to the medical staff looking after him that is proffered to the opposition before Jon takes the field: “please don’t piss him off” for the Wrath of Goode is dispensed without fear or favor to friend and foe alike.
On a beautiful sunny day watched by even more beautiful and glamorous supporters the 1s took to the field resplendent in their playing kits and in no mood for there to be any conjecture about the result. Having defeated the same opponents in an evening game the previous week Bay Street knew what to expect and were bolstered by the return of several key players. The mindset and attitude was exemplary throughout and the Pigs were good value for their 75 - 15 victory. It would take too long to describe all 11 tries scored but the sharing of them between backs and forwards illustrates the free flowing rugby the club is famous for and makes this team just a joy to watch at times. What is particularly impressive is the ease at which they make it look but it is anything but. What is on display is the culmination of great skill, understanding, intelligence and awareness both individually and collectively. Like Kimball and Burton’s beautiful combination of pink, green and white kit design so the 2014 Pigs compliment each other’s style and play.
The scrum has been a particularly strong weapon for the Pigs play of late and it was deployed early on when a Mississauga put in was disrupted enough for Andy Tyler to drag his opponent into touch and give the Pigs an attacking lineout deep in the Blues half. Quick ball off the top from Kimball gave Burton the opportunity to put Bucky into space. Scientists at CERN working on the Large Hadron Collider have spent 15 years building and then a further 2 years conducting experiments to circulate two proton particle beams in order that they smash into each other as part of the road towards proving the existence of the Higgs Boson. The Mississauga defense may well empathize with their scientific colleagues because in this form it is easier to get two protons to collide than to tackle one Andrew Buxton-Forman. Away he went finding Spencer in support who had an easy run in to open the scoring.
If Bucky is one particle than the other proton in heartache must be Ryan Tomlinson. For those old enough to remember the fabulous French team of the 1980’s they may recall Philippe Sella. Sella, who was recognized for his footballing brilliance by all those who played with or against him, was not particularly big of frame but his speed, vision and strength set him apart from all others. Tomlinson is of the same breed. One wonders how he would fare were he 10 kgs heavier and six inches taller like most modern centres but then the skills he possess which make him such a special player to watch would probably have been coached out of him in favor of mind-numbingly boring tramline rugby and the brainwashing of creativeness. Conor O’Shea, the Director of Rugby at Harlequins said that Nick Evans, their New Zealand outhalf, was so good he would pay to watch him train. Well if the Pigs ever went down that route Bucky and Tomlinson would fall into that bracket.
For all the artistry displayed though one of the keys to the team’s success is the work rate and hard yards made by others. The pack was immense on Saturday. The front row of Tait, Trevor and Shippen were exceptional in the tight and never allowed their opponents to settle. Trevor is having a magnificent season and is consistently one of the team’s best players. His basics as a hooker are never short of solid but he is so dynamic with the ball in hand that it is like having an extra wing forward on the pitch who can run, pass, tackle and make a break. Another who is contributing handsomely is Noah Harrison who continues to impress with each outing. Noah’s ball handling and ability to make ground created great go-forward ball.
Probably the greatest compliment a player can have is to be recognized by their peers. Known as a ‘players player’ is the ultimate accolade and goes to those who continually carry out all the unseen work that allows others to shine. Quite simply Ian Davies is a players player. He was vocal in the mid-week Pigs v Blues pre-match huddle that the Dragons debacle would not be repeated and that a repeat performance was not acceptable. He played that night as he demanded others did. He did it again on Saturday. Ian is probably not in as many game photos as he would like but that is because he is at the bottom of rucks, stuck in a maul or getting up from another tackle. People on the sideline may not notice his contributions but you can be certain that his fellow Pigs do. The 2s miss an Ian Davies and when he is not playing the 1s do too.
There is always place for an extravagantly gifted player though and it was wonderful to see Alistair Clark return to the Pigs colours after injuries and his Blues duties. The Baby Faced Assassin was at the peak of his powers between body-wincing tackles and link play of the highest order. Having Alistair on your roster is like a bird you want to keep caged but some birds feathers are too bright and need to be shared for others to enjoy too.
Providing the glue was the halfback pairing of Andy Tyler and Dave Burton. The pack gave them a good platform to work from and neither disappointed. Burton may claim that there are better footballers than him but whether they possess his intelligence and positional understanding is debatable. He is also the leader which everyone listens to. That is what makes him such an important and pivotal player for Bay Street. Andy is such a technically gifted scrum half, a good decision maker and never gets flustered. The Pigs are indeed fortunate to have such gifted players in pivotal positions. They combined wonderfully on Saturday.
All these components combined to make the Pigs virtually unplayable at times. With Mo and Nikita, no weak links themselves, running and hitting hard Mississauga had no answer to the onslaught they faced. To their credit they never gave up and picked up some second half tries but these were when the game was long over as a contest. Plus when they did threaten Bay Street came back harder than before. It may have been Ladies Aux but the mood was not charitable on the pitch and nor should it be.
The full opening sentence to A Tale of Two Cities is "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” Maybe that is the best way to describe Saturday. A day full of good, full of bad, full of hope, despair, redemption, foolishness, wisdom and the realization that all days are like these. It’s what you take from them that matters. Onwards and upwards to better things Mr. Goode and my fellow Pigs.
The 2s enjoyed a 80 – 10 victory over their, admittedly under strength, Mississauga Blues counterparts in a very entertaining game scoring 12 tries to 2. With Bay Street playing the Yeomen in the semi finals this Saturday the form on show is welcomed. Also encouraging is the return to the fold of Todd Cornford, a wonderfully astute and talented rugby player. If Todd’s footballing nous could be bottled it could well replace breast milk. The side effects could be that your darling child might grow up to support the Brumbies or speak with an Aussie twang but on the plus side they would be fantastic rugby players.
Bay Street lent the Blues a player or three before with your intrepid hack one of them. Having last played wing forward when Ronald Regan was President and somewhat cognizant of his duties it was quite a shock to find oneself back there again. Far from it being like riding a bike in that once learnt the skill is not forgotten it can only be described as the feeling Astronaut George Taylor must have had having found himself stranded in a land of talking apes. It certainly felt bewildering as wave upon wave of Bay Street pressure unfolded through tight forward play and expansive back moves. In truth, even if the Blues has their full complement of players the Pigs would have been too strong for them. The pack were excellent to a man and their driving maul was used to tremendous effect making huge ground at times. When it is executed correctly, as it was on Saturday, it is almost impossible to stop it legally. With the power coming through and individuals involved the alternative of pulling it down illegally by grabbing hold of someone and throwing ones body in the way hoping to cause a domino effect simply didn’t appeal. At times discretion really is the better part of valor. The backs for their part were too good for the Blues. Prince and Liam dictated matters at half back whilst Tom Matthews, Koppel, Nikita and Chase ran amok. When the Blues did try to relieve pressure Todd Cornford was there to pick up the bouncing ball and it all started again for them.
In Catholicism before receiving the Body of Christ through the Eucharist recipients give thanks for what they are about to receive. Afterwards is a time of prayer, reflection and thanking God. Having received a pass there was no time for reflection as the ball attracted the carnivorous attention of Greg Hall. Never let it be said that the Pigs are not gentlemen though as Greg whispered an apology for the actions he was about to commit momentarily before hitting your scribe with such force that he thought he may very well be hurtling through time and space to meet his maker.
The first half ended with the Pigs well in the ascendency with Mississauga facing a daunting second half. It did not get easier for them either. Within a couple of minutes of the restart Cornford took a long pass from Prince and dissected the Blues backline beautifully to score untouched under the posts. Age is a number, class is class though and Todd has it in abundance. Cornford was at it again shortly afterwards. Jason LeMar took a restart, following an excellent Blues individual try, and took the ball forward. Maverick Wilson made further yards and when the ball came back it was the same combination of Prince and Cornford who struck again with Todd taking a beautiful line to add another try to his tally.
Not to be outdone Todd’s fellow aussie Sam Furphy got in on the scoring act shortly after. Russell Wilson, the only man who could make white leather dress shoes look cool, made a break upfield before Boyack took the ball on. Chase Robinson came off his wing and when he found Cornford in support he shredded the defense again. Furphy was running a supporting line and drawing the last man Todd’s pass put Sam over to register another Pigs try.
The Blues registered their second and final score and their punishment was the release of the Kraken. Greg Hall picked up from a scrum with Peter Weingarden making further ground. The ball was spun out the backs until it reached Koppel. Despite receiving the ball facing his own line the Kraken turned and took off evading or handing off six defenders on his way to the line. This was Koppel’s 2nd try of the game before adding a third when coming on the 1s in the later game. Allowing Koppel build up a head of steam is a fatal mistake for a defense.
By this stage the festivities were well and truly getting under way on the sidelines with the play on the park giving all the supporters plenty to celebrate. Nasser Jamal, who gets better with every game, stole a lineout and quick ball found the Kraken again in space but this time with Nikita Lavreka in support. Koppel went from his own to the Blues 22 before switching with Nikita. As hard as Koppel is to stop with a head of steam a defenders best chance of stopping a fully charging Nikita might be with a Scud missile. With none readily available to hand Nikita sprinted through to score under the posts.
Good manners are always rewarded and when one of the Blues had the misfortune to find Greg Hall in their way the ball was stripped and the Mississauga defense was treated to a front row seat of a rampaging Godzilla, not that they appreciated the fact. Outpacing threequarters over 60 meters Godzilla found Weingarden again in support. Peter’s pass to Maverick saw Wilson stride in to score the Pigs 12th and final try.
A team can only play what is in front of them and if the Blues were not the strongest opposition what is pleasing is that the Pigs kept to their task and did not let up. The 2s are percolating nicely and with several players to come back into the fold it should make for a difficult selection meeting for this week’s semi final. The ability to win is there, the attitude from the start must be right though. Some more Aussie gold wouldn’t hurt either.
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound?” is a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and knowledge of reality. It certainly will create a debate where those in the ‘ayes’ might cite that a radio would continue to transmit waves in the same room as a deaf person and that trees were around before man so why should man have any bearing on it whilst the ‘nays’ might cite George Orwell who wrote "everything exists through human consciousness" to the theory of Schrödinger's cat where reality does not happen unless there is an observer to the seemingly simple argument that without an ear to hear or an eye to see there is no "sound" as we know it, or "color/shapes/sizes" as we know them: only math. It’s interesting and more complex than one might initially think. Here is another one: if there is photographic evidence of 5 first half tries being scored (time and date stamped) but the referee only records 4 which is correct? Does one believe their eyes or what one is told which, from a risk management perspective, can be classed as a ‘single point of failure’? Whilst the example of the tree is theoretical the matter of tries scored is an actual one and raises the question did the Pigs win or lose against the Dragons by 2 points on Saturday? Going by the photographic evidence Bay Street won by 3 points but according to the referee they lost by 2 (43-41). With the Nomads also losing it brings the issue into direct focus, not to mention that a team that scores more than their opponents deserves to be awarded the points.
The other question that might be raised is how did a team that beat their opponents 76-8 in their first meeting conspire to ship 43 points and ‘lose’ a game they were well ahead by at halftime? There are several that might be proffered: the Dragons played very well in the second half and had some wonderfully balanced runners who took advantage of broken play. Also their spirit was admirable and they kept working for each other. On the Pigs side the curse of unavailability and injury which has blighted the club this season left the first team, again, threadbare and, dare one mention it, potentially not being as focused as they could have been. From a purely neutral point of view though it is good for the league to see teams beating each other.
Although the Pigs conceded the first try when a kick inside their 22 was charged down they soon settled into their rhythm with their forwards making the hard yards. From a Noah Harrison rumble Burton, playing at 9, broke and when he was tackled without the ball when chasing his own chip kick Bucky slotted the penalty. Bay Street pressed again immediately. Kimball directed the ball to Trevor Anderson at the front of the lineout and off Trevor went with a speed of foot and kick ahead that any winger would have been proud of. The clearing kick reached Nikita Lavreka on the opposite wing and he thundered through several Dragons before being held up. When the ball went wide Greg Hall was called for crossing with the tryline begging. Shortly afterwards a powerful run by Alex Koppel breached the Dragons defense and gave the Pigs a tremendous attacking platform but the normally unflappable Bucky knocked on. From the resulting scrum the Bay Street Scrum Masters ™ of Tait, Rouanet and Shippen won the ball against the head. If there is one person, as the opposition, you don’t want to have the ball when your defensive line is not set is Ryan Tomlinson. Playing at 10 Tomlinson’s vision saw the opportunity and he darted through to score under the posts with ne’er a hand within touching distance.
The Pigs solid platform was key to their next score. Kimball, imperious as always, took the lineout with Trevor peeling. Burton broke again and when Tomlinson was tackled the quick ruck ball went out to Mo in the centers. Mo and Greg Hall played some passing one-twos between them to create space and tie up the defenders. Bucky’s innate rugby brain had him in support and he was on hand to take the final pass from Mo to touch down in corner.
Try number three came from a double tackle from Mo and Godzilla in midfield with the latter turning it over. Micah Simmons made good ground down the wing and then when the ball was spun back the other way Harrison was like a wrecking ball through the middle. Anderson was next up and seeing where the space was Tomlinson changed his line of support running to take a pass from Trevor and glided over to notch up Bay Street’s third try and his second of the day.
Tomlinson’s running was a thorn in the Dragons side all day. From the restart he slashed his way through the first wave of defenders before giving a sumptuous angled pass to Peter Shippen coming at an angle. How good it is to see El Presidente back in the Pigs colors and on the field. Kimball and Anderson combined to put Lavreka in to score but the final pass was adjudged forward. The dominance in the scrum continued and the ball was won against the head again. Kimball broke and passed to Burton who scored untouched.
Bay Street was not done yet though. A scrum on the far left hand side of the pitch saw the ball go wide right through the backs with Koppel again gaining good ground. Mo fed Godzilla who was not for being stopped and when Bucky found Harrison the Pigs were deep in the Dragons 22. Bucky was the first receive from the ruck and his inside ball to Trevor saw him jog through to score under the posts and notch up the Pigs fifth try of the half and 36th point in all (1 penalty and 3 conversions).
Now according to the referees scorecard one of those tries didn’t happen. Which one we have no idea but all were relayed through reviewing the game day photos. Greg Hall was correctly called back for crossing with the tryline at his mercy and Nikita’s try scoring opportunity was correctly ruled out for a forward pass. So that leaves five bona fide tries not four.
The second half was a much looser affair which suited the Dragons more than it did the Pigs on the day and they took full advantage through their dangerous runners. The Dragons added several scores but when the Pigs needed their players step up they did and none more so than Tom Kimball whose work ethic, skill level and sheer will power week in and week out are truly inspiring. With their collective backs against the wall Mike Wade and Harrison won ball in the Dragons half. Out the ball went to Kimball who carried two defenders over the line with him to stop the rot and get the Pigs back in the game. He was not done though. A few minutes later Kimball turned the ball over in a tackle. Mo, who had a big game carrying the ball, made a half break to keep the momentum going before Tomlinson and Harrison made further ground. Jamie LeHuquet secured the ball at the ruck and the man who started the move was there to finish it. Kimball took the pass and went through the tiring arms of an opposing prop to score again.
According to the referee Bay Street were 2 points down and had an opportunity to win the game with a late penalty which, alas, went a foot wide from a difficult angle. The game ended with some of the Dragons falling to their knees in joyous disbelief after recording their first victory of the season and the Pigs leaving the pitch in disbelief of their own that they had apparently lost the game. How the correct number of tries were not recorded can only be explained by those whose job it is to do so but perhaps it can best be explained as a momentary lapse of reason. So who won? According to the referee the Dragons but going by the photographic records Bay Street. Does that falling tree make a sounds with no one there? The debate will go on.
Here are some famous quotes, all with something in common: “I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto” (Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz), “Elementary, my dear Watson” (Sherlock Holmes), “It's life, Jim, but not as we know it” (Dr. McCoy from the original Star Trek series), “Please, Sir, can I have some more?” (Oliver Twist), “All that glistens is not gold” (from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice), “Let them eat cake” (Marie Antoinette) “Play it again, Sam” (Casablanca), “Do you feel lucky, Punk” (Dirty Harry), ”If you build it, they will come” (Field of Dreams) and “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” (Neil Armstrong). All have made it into modern Society’s lexicon to describe or comment on scenarios people observe and whilst there is some credence to the saying ‘a lie told often enough becomes the truth’ the fact is that all these quotes were either never said or are attributed to the incorrect person or they are not simply not what was actually said. But because we have head them ad nauseam we believe otherwise. Similarly we all heard the phrase a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’ whether in academia or sporting circles in an effort to concentrate on one area rather than being competent, or less perhaps, in several.
Chris Jacks made his Bay Street debut on Saturday and, being selected at blindside before moving to hooker for the second half after injury to Trevor Anderson forced him off, gave lie to the saying ‘jack of all trades and master of none’. Jacks was superb and for those not there to witness his performance imagine having the footballing skills of Tom Kimball in attack and the destructiveness of Tom Clancy in defense. Not a bad combination to have and an absolute nightmare for the opposition.
Playing on their home pitch the Yeomen were eager to reverse the 41-26 scoreline from the opening day of the season but were met by a determined Pigs side. For a second week in a row injuries and unavailability had stretched the clubs resources particularly up front but it also saw the welcome return of Dan Yungblut and an impressive display by Jon Pigozzo making his first team debut at prop having already played 40 minutes for the 2s.
Bay Street’s first try came from the quick thinking of Andy Tyler. From a Yeomen scrum Tyler cleverly flicked the ball back onto the Pigs side and then secured it on the ground. Noah Harrison charged forward with Ryan Tomlinson making further ground. Tomlinson flicked the ball back inside to Jacks and he powered through from the 22 to record both his and the Pigs first try.
The Pigs were well on top at this juncture and a break and chip-kick from Burton which the Yeomen brought over their line led to a 5 meter attacking scrum. Save Pravda on Saturday nights this is Kimball’s favorite spot and he did not disappoint. Picking from the base Tom’s pace took him outside the despairing clutches of the blindside flanker and into those of the unfortunate winger. Through him he went and not even the combined attention of the remaining Yeomen’s backrow could prevent the inevitable try.
The pressure did not let up. Steve Donelle fielded a relieving kick and found Spencer Morgan in support. In the tackle Morgan slipped a beautiful one handed pass to Stephane Nardin who countered. Jacks was in support and the pack, reminiscent of the hymn ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers’ mauled upfield. Kimball, still cast out by God, was loitering with intent and when the ball reached him made his intent known. Haring down the wing, scrumhalf hanging on dear life, Kimball’s inside ball found Jacks on his shoulder and three defenders were not going to stand in the way of his second try of the day. The Yeomen rallied though and replied with a try of their own.
Turnover ball from Anderson put the Pigs on the front foot shortly afterwards. A combination of strong running from Jacks and Pigozza with good hands from Youngblut saw Ryan Tomlinson make a break. Ian Davies was the first man there to secure the ball and out it went to Donelle on the wing. Having Kimball and Jacks tear down your wing is bad enough but Donelle is not exactly lacking in size or an appetite for destruction himself. Had the Terminator had a passionate affair with a Commodore 64 circa 1984 whilst hunting Sarah Conor the offspring would be Steve Donelle in terms of build and power. He is one scary individual on the pitch. Add pace to the equation and it was a long afternoon for the Yeomen wing and fullback. Neither could contain him and in he went for the Pigs third try in the same corner and their fourth overall. Just before the end of the half the Yeomen struck to record their second try.
The second half began sans the talismanic Anderson who succumbed to a knee injury picked up in the first half. We wish you a painfree and quick return Trevor. Jacks moved into the hooking berth with Maverick Wilson coming on at flanker. Bay Street’s next try was created in their own 22. From a lineout the ball went through the backs hands where Morgan was tackled. Davies, again, was first man there to secure the ball. Burton spun it wide but it went behind Pigozzo hitting the ground before being gathered into the arms of Jacks. Nick Cave’s ‘Into my arms’ is a beautiful love song but there the resemblance ended as a beauty of different kind, more feral and brutal, was displayed as Jacks tore through the Yeomen defense. Tomlinson and Spencer combined to put Davies in space and from the half way line he outpaced the Yeomen to score untouched in the corner. It was beautiful heads-up rugby. Shortly afterwards the Yeomen added a third try to their total.
The Pigs were unlucky not to add to their tally when Jacks had the ball knocked out of his hands as he was going over to score. It was a shame though. A big scrum saw Bay Street win one against the head. Burton skipped to Morgan and he released the rampaging Donelle to wreak further punishment. Davies, who else, secured the ruck and when Burton founds Jacks it seemed that a hat trick on his debut would be achieved. It was not to be though.
Depending on the species Hummingbirds can beat their wings at between 12 - 80 times per second. To the naked eye it seems they do not move and yet they are graceful and a wonder to watch. The same could be said of Ryan Tomlinson who, in an era when brawn trumps creativity for modern centers, is a reminder that skill, speed, awareness and being able to pass can triumph. Watching professional rugby it is staggering how few of these tasks modern centers can master particularly the latter. Simply put Tomlinson is a joy to watch and, superb player that he is in his own right, has the ability to bring surrounding players into the game at the right moment. In each game he has played for the Pigs his awareness of space and decision making in whether to break himself or put someone else into space is unerringly accurate. When he does spot a gap and go for it his footwork is sublime making defenders chase shadows and grasp at thin air.
Morgan won a penalty in his own half and taking a quick tap to himself made his way into the Yeomen’s 22 before being dragged into touch. Kimball stole the lineout with Pigozzo gathering and releasing Burton. Tomlinson received the ball and ghosted through two defenders where it didn’t seem a single sheet of paper could slip. Evading two more would-be tacklers he touched down to record the Pig’s sixth and final try and raise himself to the top of the tryscoring stakes. The Yeomen came back to record their fourth try but despite their best efforts to get edge closer they were repelled with Harrison, Youngblut and the evergreen Jess Landry being particularly prominent in defense. The game ended 26-36 with Bay Street recording their fifth victory in six league games.
All attention will be focused on the return game against the Nomads in Fletchers this Saturday. There is no doubt it will be a tough, uncompromising game but as Michael Jordan said “Limits, like fear, is often an illusion.” Personally I don’t believe this Pigs team has either. After Saturday more may well draw the same conclusion. Have at them fellow Pigs.
The Transcendentalist essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once remarked that language is “a city to the building to which every human being brought a stone”. The way the first team is playing presently seems to encapsulate the essence of this in that every player is contributing to make the Pigs formidable opponents. Teams may play well against them for 40 minutes like Saracens did on Saturday but those stones quickly build and although at the end of Pink Floyds ‘The Wall’ there is a chorus of voices to “tear down the wall” this Pigs-built one is insurmountable at times.
The Pigs took the field less several regulars and a thin bench which led to some creative selections. Micah Simmons started in the 2nd row, Dave Burton played at scrumhalf whilst Micah and Mo both had to play minutes in the earlier seconds game. To a man though no one grumbled and every player stepped up to the mark which speaks volumes both for the esprit de corps within the club and the level of respect Burton, as captain, is held in.
Over the two league games this season one of Saracens most effective weapons has been their driving maul and they opened their account through it when their burly 8 man broke off from it on the Pigs 22 to sprint through and score under the posts. If Bay Street didn’t know there were in a game they knew it now. From the restart though some good driving through Godzilla and Dave Tait led to a penalty opportunity which Bucky, whose kicking was imperious throughout, slotted over.
A flyhack on a loose ball led to the Pigs taking the lead. Ian Davies collected it and charged forward ably supported by Kimball whose chip-kick was collected by Noah Harrison, a human wrecking ball with ball in hand. Tait was next up and slipped a gorgeous one handed pass to Burton who found the seemingly ageless Philippe on his shoulder. Were he being judged by Olympic standards Philippe’s dive would have rendered a 0.0 from all judges but at Fletchers it was worth a glorious 7 points with Bucky’s fabulous conversion. If the Pigs thought that this would dampen the oppositions spirits they were sorely mistaken as shortly afterwards their 8 man took advantage of a defensive lapse to score under the posts again.
There was a remarkable moment in the first half though which showed that Bay Street were not for the taking. On a Saracen put-in the Pigs eight obliterated their scrum and drove them up and back at a rate of knots. Watching it was like experiencing the powered, controlled and relentless force of a tsunami. It was over in an instant but the power and control of that instant was astounding to witness and from that moment on the Pigs were on top.
A beautiful lineout take from Kimball saw the Pigs launch a powerful attack. Ryan Tomlinson playing out of position at outhalf released Alain van Theil who broke several tackles before releasing his center partner Spencer Morgan to bring it up to Saracens 22. Bucky was next up with Harrison supporting and it was he who was hauled down two yards before the tryline. Whilst there are no atheists in foxholes it does not mean that God is listening and the one person Saracens did not want next in line was Greg Hall who duly arrived and was as unstoppable as his moniker, Godzilla, suggests. Try number two for the Pigs with Bucky converting.
Bucky was in rare form on Saturday and his lines of running were exquisite. One of his many incursions into the line saw him ghost through despairing tacklers and had Saracens fullback not tackled the supporting Burton before the ball reached him it could have been try number three. Bucky kicked the penalty to give the Pigs a 17-20 halftime lead.
The first 20 minutes of the second half were simply mesmerizing with the Pigs scoring four tries and killing the game as a contest. Saracens tried to rally but the speed of hand, pace of foot and swiftness of thought displayed devastated their attempts to get back into the game. Kimball, as he so often is, was the catalyst. From a ruck Davies, playing superbly at 7, released Tom who gained huge ground into Saracens 22. Kimball was not held in the tackle meaning he could get to his feet again and drive on which is exactly what he did. The arch poacher Mo was on hand to benefit and pirouetted through two would-be tacklers to score.
From the kick off the Pigs were on the attack again. Burton picked up from a scrum going blind and found Bucky with Stephane Nardin in support. A game of ‘pass the parcel’ took place as back and forth the ball went or didn’t go between the two as they bamboozled the defense making their way from their 10 meter line right up the try line. Faced with the last covering defence Bucky then threw a no-look behind the back pass which Ian Davies, running superbly in support, gratefully accepted to dot down.
Tomlinson, Bucky and Nardin spearheaded the Pigs next attack. Working the ball in close proximity between them they released Harrison who had Godzilla beside him and it was now their turn to play ‘pass the parcel’ down the touchline. Hall threaded a sublime pass between two defenders as he was being tackled back to Harrison and from the ruck Trevor Anderson was the beneficiary running a line between the fullback and winger to score.
The Pigs kept up the intensity and it wasn’t long before they struck again. Tomlinson pounced on a Saracens loose pass, the result of a shuddering tackle from Godzilla, and Spencer was first in to act as scrum half. Mo was the recipient and his telepathic pass to Bucky saw the great man run a line not bettered since Isambard Kingdom Brunel drew the one that led to the Great Western Railway. Without a hand laid on him Bucky was in to cap a fine display and add the Pigs penultimate try.
Saracens didn’t lie down and their pride saw them add two late second half tries to make it four in total. The Pigs were to have the last say though. Maverick Wilson turned the ball over in the Pigs 22 and out it went to Nardin who gallic running flair and outrageous looped pass to Bucky saw play quickly in Saracens 22. From the ruck Burton’s deft pass found Tomlinson who eased over to record the Pigs sixth try and the eighteenth different try scorer for the first team in five games. Talk about spreading the love.
The Pigs will need all their mental fortitude and resilience for this weeks game away to the Yeomen and no doubt players will be asked to play out of position again all for the greater Pig. There are several more stones to be added to this wall and it is not ready to be torn down just yet.
The 1980s were a much simpler time. Greed was good, global what?, people actually talked to one another in bars instead of viewing it as a distraction from their real relationship with their mobile phone which, by the way, cost about US$ 4k and were the size of a brick and Elton John was married to a woman. In fact one of Sir Elton’s biggest hits of that decade was ‘Nikita’ which describes his crush on a beautiful female East German border guard whom he cannot meet because he is not allowed into the country. Unrequited love may well be romantic according to one of the themes in the play Cyrano de Bergerac but if Nikita Lavreka enjoyed playing against the Saracens then the love certainly was not reciprocated.
The return leg of this fixture saw the Pigs in Fletchers Field whilst the 3s, who would normally provide much of the backup for the 2s, were in Eglington Flats. This, combined with vacation season and the usual demands on players availability, saw both the 1s and 2s play with as lean a squads as they have fielded in quite a while which led to some interesting selection calls.
Round II was similar to the game one with the first half being a tight affair with little to separate the sides. Saracens took the lead with an unconverted try with Doug Henderson responding to level the scores. Doug is having a fantastic season so far for the 2s. The 2014 Henderson model is slimmer looking than previous seasons which is leading to increased mobility and longevity: traits no doubt appreciated by Doug’s phantom girlfriends.
One person Saracens must be sick of the sight of, whatever year or model, is Franklin Orlando who produced a storming second half. The Pigs were ensconced in Saracens 22 and playing at openside Frank took possession of a wayward Saracens lineout. Giving Frank the ball in space with the tryline is sight is akin to a masochist self flagellating. Each stride was like a whip flaying skin as defenders were brushed aside and run over on the way to Orlando scoring under the posts.
Saracens took the game to the Pigs once again but some great defensive work from Peter Weingarden turned the ball over at the scrum in the Pigs 22 before Orlando brought it to the 10 meter line. Alex Prince is having a simply brilliant season and his display on Saturday was another totemic display at 10. For an outhalf Prince must rank amongst the top ball carriers within the club let alone the 2s and, in football parlance, it was another 100+ rushing day for Prince. Taking the ball from the ruck set up by Orlando Prince ghosted between his opposite 10 and flanker, stepped the No. 8 before sprinting down the sideline only to be stopped just short of the line by Saracens lightning quick winger. One of the reasons for the dysfunctional Saracens lineout was the superb spoiling work carried out by Nasser Jamal jumping at 2. Coming from an NCAA and professional football background Jamal continues to impress and improve in what is only his 5th game of rugby. Already proficient in the tight when Nasser gains more confidence to get ball in hand in the loose he will be a very valuable player indeed. With the ensuing lineout going awry Weingarden stole it at the tail and rumbled forward. Orlando took the ball on and when held up just a few meters out the ball found Prince. As he started the break it was fitting he also finished it by running an angle outside the cover to score in the corner.
Saracens tried to run the ball from a scrum but a double tackle by Tom Mathews and Maverick Wilson put paid to that idea. Prince fielded the kick and his instinct to run rather than return it paid dividends. Stepping his man he found Nikita Lavreka on his inside shoulder. One of the lyrics in ‘Nikita’ is “I’ll never feel how good it feels to hold you” and perhaps that could sum up Saracen’s defense with respect to Lavreka’s second half. The man is a beast with ball in hand and one wouldn’t recommend running in his vicinity with ball in hand either. Powerful running and some good stepping saw Nikita smash through the cover and score his third try of the day (having scored 2 for the 3s earlier). It is strange what a child remembers. As one visiting my grandmother I read a plaque, with no comprehension of its meaning, that someone had given her describing the various ages of womanhood. It said between 15 – 20 she is like Africa, half wild and half discovered. Between 50 – 55 she is like Siberia, everyone knows where it is but no one wants to go. Well Nikita on a rugby pitch is a combination of both: Africa with ball in hand and Siberia for any opponent who likes the idea of self preservation.
From the restart the Pigs were on the offense again with Henderson taking the ball forward with Russell Browne in support. Frank Orlando took the ball on again and from the ruck Orlando Senior, Mike, proved to be as difficult to topple as Junior. Kieran Hannifin and Browne were first there to secure the ball leaving Chris Berrigan as kingmaker. Drawing a tackler Berrigan slipped a beautiful pass to Lavreka who found himself two meters out with two defenders in his way. “I’ll never feel how good it feels to hold you” may as well have been belted out across the tannoy system as Nikita steamrolled his way through and over the defenders to record his second and the Pigs fifth and final try of the day. Liam Boyle ran the restart out to close the game with the 2s victorious 12-31 and a record of 4 wins from 5 games.
Bay Street face the Yeomen this week in what will undoubtedly be another tough game. After 80 minutes what chance another Elton John megahit, “I’m still standing” will be belting out?
There are some films that leave a mark long after their viewing and will always remain in favorite lists for various reasons. The French Connection is lauded for containing one of the greatest car chase sequences in movie history which was part of the reason it picked up 5 Academy Awards. The Pigs have their own version which may live as long in opponents minds with Alain van Theil and Stephane Nardin forming their own French Connection which is proving as tough an assignment for teams to crack as Popeye Doyle’s efforts were. The midfield partnership of van Theil and Nardin consistently tormented the Saracens with their lines of running and ability to beat their men.
Bay Street fielding an experienced and strong side took the game to Saracens who had no shortage of big men themselves. Some last minute adjustments saw Liam Boyle and Prince paired at halfback which proved a masterstroke. Both can read a game and have footballing nous in spades and so they proved it by controlling the game. Although the Pigs had a lot of first half possession they only scored once and that was through the flying Jordan Partridge upon his return from injury. Given any sort of room Partridge is a devastating runner and when there is an equation consisting of ball, Jordan, space, defender and tryline there is only one outcome. As sure as day follows night so a try resulted and the Pigs took a deserved 7-0 halftime lead.
“He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother” is a song that has been recorded by artists from The Hollies to The Osmonds to Neil Diamond and featured in films as culturally diverse and received as Rambo III to Zoolander. Its origin, according to the 1884 book The Parables of Jesus tells the story of a little girl carrying a big baby boy. Seeing her struggling, someone asked if she wasn't tired. With surprise she replied, "No, he's not heavy; he's my brother.” Whilst it is unknown whether Michael and Franklin Orlando have required a female to physically carry them off one suspects the Saracens wish it were so as they both reigned havoc again and again with their determined runs. Think of a bowling lane with 10 pins lined up. Now picture a 16llb bowling ball being hurtled towards said pins at breakneck speed by someone with the power of, say, Conan the Barbarian. The aftermath is one of obliteration: pins flailed everywhere, bells ringing, lights flashing and an almighty din as the ball crashes into the barrier at the back ready to be used again when called upon. Well that gives some indication of the impact the Orlando’s had.
Micah Simmons won a lineout on halfway where the ball was whipped out to Prince at 10. Having the luxury of The French Connection outside him or one Mike Orlando coming at speed from his wing Prince chose the latter and what an inspired decision it was. Smashing through the covering wing forward Mike made his way deep into the 22 where a despairing and brave tackle from the fullback brought him down. Quick ruck ball gave Prince time to evaluate his options and he decided to ghost through both centers and score under the posts.
Having been unshackled Mike wanted more and as the saying goes ‘all good things to those who wait’. Micah and Boyack turned ball over and Nardin took the ball on an arc ghosting outside his man to find Mike on his shoulder. Running an angle that took him away from the cover and straight through the outhalf Orlando found himself with a clear route to the tryline which he didn’t waste. Try number three and the second in quick succession.
There is always a little sibling rivalry in most families and Frank, not wishing to be overshadowed, decided to join in. Saracens long relieving kick found an itching Koppel deep in his 22. Running the ball back to his 10 meter line, from the ensuing ruck the ball reached Frank as first receiver. The outhalf was swatted aside followed by the flanker and fullback in a run that took the Pigs deep into the Saracens 22. Under pressure the Saracens conceded a 5 yard scrum. Tom Mathews broke and fed Nardin running a straight line. Tackled just short The French Connection combined again with van Theil taking the pop pass and crashing over to score.
Saracens were on the attack again but if Frank and Mike’s previous runs were good then the next one was sublime. Ripping the ball on his own 5 yard line and facing his own tryline Frank decided the best form of defense was a good offense. First the prop was rounded, then the scrum half, then the flanker, then fullback before being finally hauled down just before the Saracens tryline. What made this all the more remarkable was that Frank, playing in the second row, was able to outpace the entire Saracens team bar the covering winger who must take enormous credit for getting back. It looked certain that the Pigs would score again but alas the ball was knocked on in the process of touching down by van Theil.
The respite did not last for long though. From the defending scrum Koppel ran the relieving kick back again and from the ruck the ball once found Frank who bullocked his way closer to the line. With Boyack and Jamie LeHuquet in support the ball found Koppel and it was fitting that the man who started the move should finish it by beating three defenders to register the Pigs 5th try.
There was still time left on the clock and when there is time there is always the chance to score. Doug Henderson took the restart and set up the ruck from where the ball reached Nardin. Determined to show that Gallic flair is at least equal to Canadian Bacon Stephane was like a rapier cutting through the defense. Prince, Brad Hord, Sam Furphy and van Theil all handled thereafter. When the latter was tackled Chris Berrigan drove straight and it no surprise that Frank was on his shoulder in support. Equally as sick of the sight as being physically drained from forlornly attempting to tackle him Frank rumbled over to score a well deserved and the games final try in a 38-0 victory.
The Pigs play Saracens again on July 5th and although critics always argue that sequels and cover versions are not as good as the originals they have not seen this version of The French Connection or heard The Orlando’s duet. This next one could see all preconceived ideas ripped up.
Anniversaries are peculiar events whether they be for weddings, events or clubs. Regardless of the, real or imagined enthusiasm displayed, one party will always place more emphasis on it than the other. For some it can be a joyous occasion to put on their best clobber, organize a big day out whilst fondly reminiscing about bygone years. For others it is a chore to be endured: to turn up to, smile nicely and try not to ruin things. It’s all well and good when one side is naturally submissive and does what it’s told but when it’s the Pigs and there are league points at stake then the old adage of the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
So it proved when the Pigs defeated Saracens 30-17 on the day they were celebrating their 60th anniversary which is a tremendous achievement and one deserving enormous credit to their players and officials. Bedecked in new kit to mark the occasion the Saracens kicked off with a healthy mixture of youth and experience and really took the game to the Pigs. This was a fantastic game to watch with leads being extended before being clawed back to changing hands and back again in addition to some some eye-catching performances on both teams.
After weathering some early pressure the Pigs found their rhythm and began applying some of their own. From a lineout the imperious Kimball rose, akin to how a right-wing Christian must believe they will ascend into heaven when the Rapture happens, to claim the ball before feeding Hot-Josh Weaver on the peel. With Philippe in close support the Pigs were beginning to drive deep into the Saracens defense. Andy Tyler made a half break which was all Greg Hall needed to get involved. From the ensuing ruck Trevor Anderson took a pop pass from The Mountain in midfield before fixing both centers and releasing Danner’s partner Ryan Tomlinson who danced his way over to open the scoring. Saracens were not fazed at going behind though and played some lovely rugby particularly in broken play. One such midfield play saw their flanker release their winger on the halfway line whose sheer power and pace saw him level the score. Noah Harrison who is having a big debut season scored the Pigs second try running a beautiful supporting line following several forward drives.
Saracens, with the day that was in it, really had their dander up and took the lead with another converted try at the start of the second half. The Pigs were like adolescents at their first party after puberty had kicked in: too eager to impress, fumbling the ball under no pressure and making poor decisions. At one point it looked as though it may not be their day following a half break by The Mountain which Tomlinson looked to have scored from. To watch Tomlinson with ball in hand is like being at the ballet in that he moves with such grace, elegance, beauty and softness. He is a defenders nightmare as Saracens can attest to having sidestepped their hooker before pirouetting between two defenders before touching down but alas the referee waved play on. Added to this Spencer Morgan had to leave the field and Spencer, being one of the bravest players in the club, doesn’t leave the field for any little niggle. This was the Pigs staring down the barrel.
But for every despairing fumbling adolescent there is an older brother who knows what to do and how to lead and the Pigs were magnificently served by their front row of Tait, Anderson and Rouanet who demolished their opponents in the scrum. In fact they were the cause of the turning point in the game. A converted score down the Pigs had to defend a scrum on their 5 yard line. Concede again and the hill to overcome wold have suddenly become a mountain. The power that come through in that scrum allowed the Pigs to drive Saracens off the ball and clear their lines with Tait’s prop off his feet and swinging in the air. It was simply inspirational and everyone fed off it.
From that point the Pigs upped the ante. Saracens suddenly found themselves on the back foot. Dave Burton is one of the smartest rugby players in the game both in terms of game management and decision making. Burton realized the next score was crucial and also knew that it had to be by the Pigs. Having gained ground in the Saracens half Mo made his customary weaving, breaking run upfield. Burton sat in the pocket and when the ball came back to him on an plate from Andy T Burton dropped a beautiful goal to narrow the deficit.
The Pigs were not done. Shortly Andy T made a fantastic tackle in Saracens 22 with Trevor straight in to steal the ball. The Pigs went right and players of the quality of Tomlinson and Bucky involved there was no worry that this would be butchered and thus it was textbook play: Tomlinson drew his man and fed Bucky who ran a straight line until hauled down just before the line. God obviously deciding Kimball was more Satan from Milton’s Paradise Lost than Rapture material left him on the pitch and a good thing it was too when he was on hand to pick up and score.
A big tackle from Ian Davies shortly afterwards resulted in Tomlinson turning the ball over. Quick ball to Burton found Bucky whose line was exquisite and cut open the Saracens defence. His pass found Steve Donelle whose gargantuan biceps cradled the ball like a newborn baby to its mothers breast and from there Donelle brushed aside the attentions of the covering defender to score.
Saracens found themselves 8 points down with time running out and were running from everywhere. Inside their 22 The Mountain scythed down his opponent. The scrum half had a prop as protection when readying to pass but when one is used to destroying cities a prop is as useful a deterrent as the Rhythm Method is to a Catholic during intercourse and thus Godzilla came pouring through to take prop, scrum half and ball. Tyler was straight onto the loose ball and whipped it wide where it found the balletic Tomlinson who danced through the despairing defence to score in the corner and end the game.
And so Saracens did not have the anniversary they wanted but they do have a very good team in the making which is capable of providing many glorious days ahead. The Pigs though are in no mood to be elbowed out of the way and with the players they have and their hard nosed attitude it could be a while yet before they face that day. Bet on The Rapture first folks.
Bjorge Lillelien was a Norwegian sports commentator who entered popular culture following his country’s 1981 2-1 defeat of England in a World Cup qualifier. Upon the shrill of the final whistle Lillelien lost himself in the moment and uttered one of the most memorable summations in history. At the risk of offending Hot Josh Lillilien excitedly bellowed "We have beaten England! England, birthplace of giants. Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana--we have beaten them all. We have beaten them all. Maggie Thatcher can you hear me? Maggie Thatcher, I have a message for you in the middle of the election campaign. I have a message for you: We have knocked England out of the football World Cup. Maggie Thatcher, as they say in your language in the boxing bars around Madison Square Garden in New York: Your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!"
Whilst one should always strive to be as magnanimous in defeat and as gracious in victory the sentiment of Lillilien’s words could be applied following the final whistle on Saturday when the 1s inflicted a 76-8 defeat of the Dragons. One could bluff and try to put a spin on how the Dragons tried to stay competitive and keep fighting to the end but that would be disingenuous to the Pigs display and patronizing to their opponents. The Dragons are a proud team but on Saturday they were simply no match for the Pigs who were superior in every facet of play, in every technical aspect and every position. This was a ruthlessly efficient and effective 80 minutes which did not stutter even when losing marquee players like Alistair Clark and Tom Clancy at the half. To lose players of their calibre and not be fazed speaks volumes for the growing depth of the roster.
It would take too long to describe all 13 tries scored and the good play behind them suffice to day that Trevor Anderson, Kimball, Burton, Andy T, Spencer, Ryan Tomlinson and Bucky tore through the Dragons at will. For the record Tom Clancy opened the scoring and similar to the preceding two games it was almost straight from the kick-off. Clancy at the end of 80 minutes is a formidable opponent but in minute 1 is almost unstoppable and so he proved when taking a pop pass and running through to score under the posts. From the restart the Dragons won the ball but it was almost immediately turned over. The Pigs back line is peppered with outstanding rugby players and broken play runners. Burton as always was quick to spot an opportunity and flashed the ball to Morgan and from there it found Tomlinson who shredded the Dragons with his devastating running. Bucky, as always so majestic on the pitch, was on hand to take the pass back inside and fed Burton to saunter through untouched to score again.
This was the story of the half and game. The Dragons would kick off or gain possession, then the Pigs would turn it over and go through their phases either from play or set-piece and score. Bar scoring a penalty in the first half and a try late on the Dragons rarely escaped their half and the Pigs were in no mood to let them. There is a beautiful understanding developing between Tomlinson at 13 and Bucky at 15; both are natural footballers and perhaps due to this they seem to instinctively know where the other will be and run complimentary lines of support. Add the footballing intelligence of Andy Tyler and Burton at half back who both read the game so well and it is a potent combination. The other backs are not there to fill up the numbers either. Spencer Morgan is always dangerous with ball in hand, has wonderful feet, distributes well and in several seasons of watching the Pigs this hack cannot recall him missing a single tackle. The legendary French winger Patrice Lagisquet honed his elusive running by running through a forest at speed and side stepping the branches. The Pigs own French winger Stephane Nardin would appear to have been cut from the same cloth given the way he took his two tries. Alex Koppel on the other wing was not to be left behind. If Nardin is the artist then The Kraken is the artisan. If no space is available when the Kraken is released then Koppel is perfectly fine with employing the ’Samoan side-step’ in getting past his man. The Dragons had struggled to contain Koppel all game but brave as they were it cold not go on and during the second half Koppel simply ran through his opponent before going on to score.
But for all the flair and grace displayed there is the appreciation that noting happens without hard graft and work. Another striking aspect of the Pigs play was their execution of doing the simple things well and doing them consistently well. Rugby is not about the big flash hits and trying to do too much with the ball. It is about recognizing what your role is in a particular situation whether it be tackling, running, passing or making a sacrifice for the greater good. This is a nuance that js understood by the Pigs and from an observers viewpoint can be lacking in other teams. The evidence? Just look at the workload that Ian Davies gets through every game. Although Davies got on the scoresheet he also hit every ruck, made every tackle that came his way and got on with all the tough, physical work without complaint that allows others to shine. Davies is not alone. Dave Tait is having a remarkable season and his play is like a man 10 years his junior. Tait was always a monster in the tight but his added mobility is adding an extra dimension. Ditto Philippe who is sharper and fitter than before whilst still keeping that hard edge that makes him a formidable player. Noah Harrison is new to the club but has bought into the work ethic and is making himself an invaluable pack member. Harrison also got on the scoresheet running a support line off Kimball. Trevor Anderson is having a brilliant season and looks at home as much in the backs in broken play as he does in the tight whether hooking or at lineouts. The introduction of Nasser Jamal at the half playing in his third game of the day didn’t weaken the team. In fact Jamal make some eye catching plays and slotted in seamlessly. To play in three games, one’s first three games of rugby, and not look out of one’s depth is quite an achievement.
And what can one say about Tom Kimball? Philippe said it best at the awards dinner noting that if he were to go to war he would want Tom by his side and that is what Kimball does week in week out. Tom will consistently be one of the leading ball carriers and try scorers but he gets through mounatins of gritty work too and has the respect of every player that sets foot on the pitch with him and against him. Kimball (and Burton) set the example for others to follow and it is one of honesty, application, skill and mental toughness.
The Pigs face the Saracens this weekend in what will be two tough fixtures. They will not let these results go to their heads: rather they will do the hard yards, be fearless, read the situation in front of them and invariably chose the right options. Our friend Bjorge Lillelien may have made an indelible mark in the sporting and cultural world and England may well have taken one hell of a beating on a gloomy Oslo night but that is not a phrase that will ever be said about this Pigs team with the team and character they display.
'How do you solve a problem like Maria’ was a 2006 British television reality show whose premise was to hold live auditions to cast the part of Maria von Trapp in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s upcoming stage production of The Sound of Music. One feels there may be a summit convened in the Metro Convention Centre by the other TRU teams sooner rather than later entitled ‘How do you solve a problem like Godzilla?’ for yet again Greg Hall was simply magnificent on Saturday in the Pigs 31-19 defeat of the Dragons.
Like the passing of the olympic torch Bay Street 2s continued on from where the 3s left off and like their brethren the Pigs were in no mood let their opponents settle by setting a high tempo from the off. Early pressure saw Jon Goode claiming a lineout from a pinpoint Chris Boyack throw on the Dragons 22 with the pack driving the ball impressively on. Liam Boyle playing at 9 may be the political antithesis of everything Goode stands for but Jon’s 'separated at birth’ doppelgänger marshalled the pack’s drive before taking the ball and darting to open the scoring.
The pack to a man fronted up absorbing everything the Dragons could throw at them. Goode’s backrow colleagues, Boyack and Greg Hall were everywhere with Godzilla stupendous. A fumble by the Dragons in midfield saw Nikita Lavrenka gather the ball and make ground upfield. Tom Mathews at outhalf whisked the ball to Hall and then it was a case of sit back, break out the popcorn, throw on those 3D glasses and gleefully watch the carnage unfold. Taking the ball on his own 22 Godzilla swatted five defenders away like irritating flies whilst powering towards the Dragons goal line. With the fullback desperately hanging on Hall found Sam Furphy in excellent support who took the pass to extend the Pigs lead.
The pack were playing really well with the mobile front row of Chris Berrigan, Jason LeMar and Charles Blott getting through a huge workload. With the backrow on top and Bilal Husain and Mark Byers (on for Lavrenka) getting round in support the Dragons were continually thwarted. A double tackle in by Goode and Godzilla saw the former rip the ball and go on his own version of the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ albeit with a different ending to the one led by Lord Cardigan. Instead of finding artillery fire Goode found Godzilla who beat the one defender this time to touch down behind the posts.
The second half saw the Pigs continue from where they left off. Pressure from Berrigan saw LeMar turn the ball over again and Chase Robinson was the beneficiary breaking through some ragged defence. Mathews, alert as ever, went blind and found Godzilla on his shoulder. More defenders beaten and the ball went through Jeff Bennet’s and Robinsons hands to find Furphy again in support who looked to have scored but was harshly adjudged to have stepped out of bounds. No matter though as the Pigs bombarded the Dragons with wave upon wave of pressure. Backs and forwards were combining beautifully to stretch their opponents. The forwards were running hard and forcing increasingly tired bodies to make tackles whilst the backs were attacking space and offloading to supporting colleagues. After working the ball from side to side Mathews pass to Prince saw him take the ball up to the Dragons line. Goode and Byers were first in support to clear out the ruck and Husain was next in to pick up and score.
Like their colleagues before them the Dragons never gave up and were competitive throughout. When they did have the ball they were dangerous with it. It is a credit to the Pigs pack that they starved them of good ball for much of the contest. Presented with opportunities close to line the Dragons took them but although they did register three tries on the day the Pigs always had that bit extra. An example in the second half was when the Dragons put some good linkage play between backs and forwards together that saw them get a foothold in Bay Street’s 22 from which they scored. The Pigs had two options: let the Dragons gain confidence and invite them to score again or lay down a marker immediately. They chose the latter. From the kickoff the pack won possession and drove deep into the Dragons 22. Boyle, who had a great game at 9, fed his halfback partner Mathews who found Boyack at his side. With his head down and orange scrumcap lighting the way for the rest of his body to follow Boyack ploughed through two defenders to crash over and add the Pigs fifth try.
The coup de grace came from Prince though and it came direct from the kickoff. Perhaps taking his lead from Godzilla’s earlier barnstorming run Prince collected the ball before running towards the far touchline outpacing several defenders on his way. Confronted by the last two defenders Prince swerved then straightened before rounding the last Dragon to leave himself a free run from 30 meters out to score the Pigs sixth and final try.
There’s a scene in the film Se7en where the two detectives ask a doctor when they can question the emaciated and barely living suspect they found in an apartment to which the doctor explains that the man in question had suffered as much pain and suffering as anyone he had ever encountered and he still had hell to look forward to. Well the Dragons, for all their admirable fighting and defensive qualities, had just taken a beating from a good Pigs side and had yet to face Bay Street's first team. As for the question of How do you solve a problem like Godzilla? Who knows but if a solution is found then the Metro Convention Centre may sell out pretty quickly.
Omne trium perfectum. Those who have studied Latin will know that this translates to everything that comes in threes is perfect or complete. In early Christian art it was represented in the form of a triptych, in Catholicism by the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, in music by The Three Degrees, in cinema by The Three Stooges and in literature by The Three Musketeers. Even in Pigs folklore, up until Saturday, it could be argued it was represented by its All African backrow of Messrs Hall, Simmons and Goode.
Following Saturday this phrase could be used in one of two scenarios. The club fielded three distinct teams against the Dragons with all three recording victories with one of its new recruits, Nasser Jamal, playing in all three games. Not only did Nasser play, and play very well, for the 3s, 2s and 1s but his achievement is all the more remarkable when one considerers these were the first three rugby games Nasser ever played. That Nasser looked as out of place as Tait and Shippy at Pravda says it all. A burgeoning rugby career beckons.
The 3s were first up kicking off at 12:30. Third teams are generally a hodge podge of younger guys learning the game and older guys who should know better and listen to father time. However rugby has a tractor beam the Death Star would be proud of and it is quite a wrench to leave it completely which explains why so many keep lacing up their boots in a bid to relive those grand old days of yore. The pioneer of the 3s is Noel Chambers who must take a lot of the credit for their success. Throughout the off-season Noel was actively reaching out to players and clubs to organize fixtures and had arranged for the 3s to meet early to go through a game plan.
That game plan worked out a treat as the Pigs tore into the Dragons from the start. The pack didn’t allow their counterparts to settle and disrupted every facet of play. Chief protagonists were the backrow of Arthur Sinclair, Clinton P. Wayne and Mark Byers. Watching Clinton pickup from a scrum and take off is quite a sight to behold. It could be argued it is the rugby equivalent of the aphorism ‘there are no atheists in foxholes’ which is used to argue that in times of extreme stress or fear, such as in war, all people believe in a higher power. Well I don’t know if the Dragons believed in a deity beforehand but one suspects they were questioning what they had done in this or a former life to have this Ohio State Buckeye rampaging through their channel all game long. Clinton’s tally for the game was two tries, incalculable meters made and a hoard of bruised bodies.
Chambers rolled back the years at outhalf and gave a master class in controlling a game. When a gap appeared he broke, when he was marked he passed back inside to either Byers or Wayne to take the ball up and when the opportunity arose he released his backs. With Tom Mathews at 9 the Pigs had a half back pairing to cause their opponents plenty of problems. And they did. Both wings Justin Yeun and Jeff Bennett saw plenty of the ball and took their opportunities to score. Yeun’s try came from a Wayne break upfield. When the ball was spun wide Justin rounded his man and showed tremendous footwork to evade both the sideline and covering defenders to touch down in the corner. The conversion was missed but when Wayne touched down shortly afterwards after carrying half the Dragons team over the line with him the Pigs established a fine 12-0 lead. Arthur Sinclair claimed the restarts and when Mark Byers sold an outrageous kick dummy in his 22 before making 50 meters upfield the Dragons were on the backfoot again. With their defense scrambling the ball was moved wide for Jeff Bennet, another making his Pigs debut, to score in the other corner. 17-0 up and all looked good. Too good in fact as the Dragons clawed a score back just on the stroke of half time.
Having lost Graham Brown to injury Nikita Lavrenka entered the fray in the second half. For Nikita’s performance think of Nikita as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV as he informs Apollo Creed, in this case the Dragons, before their fight that he “must break you” and duly did. Nikita simply smashed anyone in the tackle who came into his channel and dared anyone to tackle him with the ball.
From the restart the Pigs maintained their pressure. The Dragons thought they had put in a relieving kick but it was a similar ending to the boy who thought he had got up during the night to use the bathroom. Playing superbly at fullback Kieran Hannafin caught the ball at full stride and went on a beautiful arching run which took him outside the Dragons defense before releasing Yeun who drew his man and released his statuesque teammate to fall over and score.
The Dragons to their credit never gave up and scored a further two tries through their dangerous backs to reduce the score. However the Pigs were not in a mood to capitulate and several players came to the fore. The front row of Kens Ting and Dubien and Pummell turned over several balls from lineouts and mauls whilst Jamal had the natural instinct and athleticism to steal almost every Dragons lineout in the second half. Sinclair was not far behind and was a nuisance throughout. Dave Burton, on for Matthews at 9 to allow Tom start for the 2s, was at his marauding best spotting and exploiting gaps. Burton didn’t even need the ball in hand to be a danger when he dribbled around several defenders with the ball at his feet in a show of skill that would not be at out of place at the World Cup. With the Pigs in the ascendency a crash ball was called off the top of a lineout from outside the 22 with Chambers feeding Lavrenka. After being beaten up by Lavrenka so mercilessly in the tackle the Dragons were not inclined to see how it would feel actually trying to stop him and so Nikita sailed through to score under the post without a single hand being laid on him. That was the final score and the game ended 34-20.
Congratulations to Noel and his team on a well deserved victory. One game down and one victory for the Pigs and Jamal. Step one in place for both to achieve omne trium perfectum.
It is said that absence makes the heart grow fonder or as George Costanza so succinctly put it when discovering that Elaine’s boyfriend shaved his full head of hair for his swim team “that’s like using a wheelchair for the fun of it”. ..More
Jerry Seinfeld once described winning a silver medal as thus: “Congratulations, you almost won. Of all the losers you came in first of that group. You're the number one loser. No one lost ahead of you!” Dave Manii, one suspects, doesn’t have a collection of silver medals. The evidence? Last season Manii scored the first try for the third team in their inaugural season. First player on the pitch on Saturday for the 2s, first captain in the first league game and first tryscorer of the Pigs season. Or perhaps Manii lives by the creed laid down to Ricky Bobby by his father, Reece, when he said “if you ain’t first you’re last”. However it was acquired if every artist was first an amateur than Manii has graduated to paint a masterpiece with each game.
The Pigs opened their 2014 account against the Yeomens 2nd team with a hard fought 24-21 victory. After coasting into a 17-0 lead the loss of several leaders combined with allowing the Yeomen back into the game led to some nerve jangling moments before a stout defense finally won out. The game opened with Bay Street full of running in an attempt to break the Yeomens defensive cover. Strong direct running from Alain van Theil and Stephane Nardin in the center was complimented by Alex Koppel’s and Mike Orlando’s on the wing. From a scrum on the left the ball went through the threequarter line to Koppel who gained ground and from the resultant ruck Chris Boyack and then van Theil made some hard yards before Jon Goode carried on the fine work whilst delivering his patented elbow chop to all would be tacklers. The ball was whipped back the other way to Manii who rounded his marker to score the first try of the season.
Wave after wave of pressure was bearing down on the Yeomen but their impressive defense held firm. Goode’s hair (to continue the theme from the firsts game recap) was only slightly more magnificent than his general play had a huge game at 8 and was at his belligerent best making ground from scrums and acting as a support runner. A beautiful lineout take from Jamie Le Huquet on halfway set up another fine attack through the threequarters. From the ensuing pack-driven maul the referee awarded a penalty to Bay Street five meters out. Step forward one Franklin Orlando. For any opponents out there that might come across this badly written prose there a number of things to bear in mind that might slow down or stop Mike’s baby brother: a cold Hogtown might do the trick or a discreet whisper that a beautiful young lady was enquiring about his eligibility. What will definitely not stop Frank is any number of players when he has the scent of a try in his nostrils and so it proved as all who stood before him suddenly found themselves standing behind him as Frank dotted down. A Koppel conversion made it 12-0.
Bay Street added to their total shortly afterwards courtesy of their backrow of Prince, Goode and Stephen Donelle, on for the injured Sam Furphy. Boyack’s perfect lineout saw Donelle take a peel from a lineout and simply hammer into the opposition. With Goode in support the ball was flashed to Prince who scored in the corner. 17-0 up and what could go wrong? What indeed…
The phrase ‘never give a sucker an even break’ is oft quoted but seldom adhered to. The Yeomen scored twice in quick succession to bring themselves back into it but there was more than enough skill and experience on the Pigs team to have handled it. Several Pigs went off injured but their replacements are good players. Simply put the intensity level dropped and once it does it is difficult to lift it again. It was now time for the Pigs to defend which they did for most of the second half and to their credit the defense mostly held. Greg Hall entered the fray and made his Godzilla-like presence felt with thundering tackles and one run in particular that only a madman would get in the way of lifted the siege. Cometh the moment cometh the madman who decided the best way to save his people was to throw his body like a ragdoll in front of a rampaging Godzilla. Whilst his teammates appreciated his selfless efforts the referee most certainly did not and dispatched him for 10 minutes to think on his sins. Donelle, making his debut, was bequeathed biceps that make climbing Everest seem a lazy Sunday afternoon jaunt and was an able Godzuki to Hall’s Godzilla. With Peter Weingarden barking orders, until he too had to leave the field, Bay Street were fighting for every hard yard and tackle made.
The Pigs extended their lead through some quick thinking by Prince following the award of a penalty. With Orlando off the pitch possibly the only person worse the Yeomen could have faced was Hall and whilst the film has received mixed reviews in some quarter this non-CGI incarnation of Godzilla gets a universal thumbs up. Receiving a quick tap ball from Prince Godzilla trounced to the tryline with brave but foolish souls hanging on more for dear life than trying to tackle him. Koppel converted to give Bay Street a 10 point lead.
The Yeomen never gave up and scored their third and final try (converting all three) to pull within three points. The referee stated that the kick off would be the last play of the game so it was vital the pack secured possession which they did. Brad Hord got the tireless van Theil to take one more crash ball to run down the clock resulting in the Yeomen giving away a penalty in their desperation to retrieve the ball. Prince prodded the ball into touch and victory was secured.
A tough game awaits on Saturday against the Nomads and the choice is simple. Play like the first half and we have more than a fighting chance of making it two wins from two. Play like the second and Dave Manii will be leading the number one losers. Two from two sounds much better gents.
Robert Goddard, one of the forefathers of the American rocket program, once said “when old dreams die, new ones come to take their place. God pity a one-dream man.”
And so with dreams aplenty, both collective and individual, Bay Street rugby club embarked on another season with two preseason games in Hamilton before the season begins anew in May against Belleville. The games were almost over before they even began when the bus ordered to deliver this precious cargo failed to arrive. With decisive action that his military father would be proud of Club Captain Jon Goode decreed “to Union Station” and Pied Piper-like led his Pigs where Dave Tait, whose stag it doubled at, found himself in an unusual position of throwing down 20’s for…..train tickets.
Played on a pitch exposed to a biting wind that showed the effects of winter and was like running on treacle the second team got proceedings underway. With new combinations in all areas the Pigs attacked with gusto. Liam Boyle probed at 10 with the hard running Mike Orlando making his presence felt. Hamilton may have been somewhat limited attacking wise but their defensive effort was superb from 1 to 15 and, particularly in the backs, stifled everything thrown at them. The Pigs pack was impressive with some new and old faces making their mark. Goode and Alex Prince packing at 7 were at their destructive best. Chris Berrigan returning to Pigs colours made a big impression whilst the leaner but still mean Philippe Rouanet was explosive in the tight and loose. Philippe was unlucky to have a try ruled out when smashing through three tackles from a ruck close to line but knocking on just as he was putting the ball down.
A strong run from Alex Koppel set up a ruck which Lawson Curtis, making his bow at scrum half, kicked for Chase Robinson to, well, chase. Outstripping his man Robinson looked odds on to score but a superb double tackle prevented him from placing the ball down over the line. The pressure did pay though when from a line out Greg Hall took a lineout from the excellent Chris Boyack and smashed through two tackles to open the Pigs account. Having put his injury problems behind him Greg, aka Godzilla, had a beast of a game (for both the first and second team) with and without the ball treating the Hamilton players with the sort of distain that Godzilla used to treat Japan in those 1950’s and 60’s B movies. Only more wanton destruction will sate our appetites Greg.
Half time saw the Pigs make a raft of changes and with players like Mark Byers, Jason LeMar, Ken Ting, Brad Hord, Ken Dubien, Clinton Wayne, Jesse Sargent and Russell Browne all coming into the fray it shows the strength in depth that the club is developing and needs. Defending their line against a very strong wind the Pigs found themselves in their own 22 for much of the half. Two second half tries, the latter in the last couple of minutes saw the seconds go down 10-5 but their were so many positives to take from it in terms of new players and returning ones nobody will be disappointed with the result. indeed it will most likely lead to a few headaches for the selection committee in coming weeks.
The first team hit the field and picked up where they left on when retaining last season's Fall Cup. Simply put Hamilton were not allowed any time on the ball whilst the Pigs moved theirs with aplomb. ‘Hot Josh’ Weaver continued his form from last season and put in a huge shift in the loose and line out. Ably backing up Weaver was Trevor Anderson and Mike Wade with Dave Tait hoovering up anyone in the tight. Noah Harrison making his debut for the Pigs, packing down beside Weaver, was prominent in the loose and had a try disallowed following a beautiful kick and chase from Andy Tyler and support from Mo Marsales. The Pigs pressure paid off with the baby faced assassin Alistair Clark breaking the deadlock. Ian Davies broke from a scrum and with Clark, as ever, in close support took the ball and carried both it and a would-be tackler over the line.
On the rare occasions Hamilton forayed into the Pigs territory they were robustly rebuked. Chief antagonist was Dave Burton. If science is about what is, then engineering is about what can be. The Greek letter eta, in lowercase, often shows up in engineering documents. Engineers pay a good deal of attention to improving eta because it is a symbol for efficiency. The entire existence of engineers is dedicated to doing things better and more efficiently. Burton’s kicking from hand was pure eta and his execution was incredibly effective and efficient continually putting Hamilton back deep into their own half. With Kimball and Weaver causing mayhem on the opposition throw the Pigs regularly turned over ball.
The second half saw the Pigs continue their pressure game with Burton dictating play. From a Burton chip kick recovered by Kimball the ball was spread wide with Clark acting as link man. Drawing his man Clark’s pass found Bucky in space who scored in the corner. 10-0 to the Pigs and time for the killer blow. Following a big tackle by Mo in midfield on his opposite number Clark was straight in to turn the ball over. Spotting a gap Burton ghosted through to score under the posts. As the game started opening up the Pigs began to stretch Hamilton at every opportunity. Spencer Morgan threatened in midfield and Greg Hall continued his form into this game regularly requiring two, three or more defenders to stop him leaving gaps for Alain van Thiel, Bucky, Jordan Partridge and Stephane Nardin to exploit.
A 15-0 victory away from home is no mean result. There is plenty to work on before the first league match but the early signs and form of key players is encouraging. In the play Cyrano de Bergerac Antoine Comte de Guiche warns Cyrano, in a reference to Don Quixote, that fighting with windmills may drag him down into the mire to which our hero retorts "or up, among the stars”. Aye, Pigs dare to dream and reach the stars. The 2014 season awaits….
In the food industry the ‘bliss point’ is the optimum amount of sugar in a product. Food inventors and scientists spend a huge amount of time formulating the perfect amount of sugar that will send us over the moon, and send products flying off the shelves. With fat it’s the ‘mouth feel’: the warm, gooey taste of cheese, or the bite into a crisp fried chicken that one gets. It rushes right to the same pleasure centers of the brain that sugar does, but fat is carrying twice as many calories, so it is more problematic from an obesity standpoint. There is almost no limit to the bliss point in fat. Food companies discovered they could add as much fat as they wanted to products, and unless people looked closely at the nutrition facts, they are going to totally love it more than they would without the fat.... More
Alistair Clark Earns His First Two Caps With Canada's Men Side.
A wing forward in the traditional mould who acts as a superb link-man with vision, pace and excellent hands earlier this season Alistair Clark became the clubs first Ontario Blues player which came as no surprise to anyone who has had the pleasure of playing with him or the misfortune to oppose him. A Baby Faced Assassin who is as modest and courteous off the pitch as he is ferociously teak tough on it, everyone in the club was thrilled when Alistair was selected to represent Canada in the recent America’s Rugby Championship held in BC. Alistair earned two caps against Uruguay and the US. Rumors abound that Alistair’s new pre-Pigs-game ryder now stipulates a bowl of skittles with all the brown ones removed and that Tom Kimball, now acting as his agent, has let it be known that Alistair is now available to make personal appearances on reality TV shows, store openings and Bar Mitzvahs. Congratulations Alistair and may you continue to go from strength to strength whilst inspiring us mere mortals around you.
Sophie's Choice, Kramer vs Kramer or The Deer Hunter will have nothing on the choices some of the Pigs have to make this weekend. Cheer on the Ontario Blues which will have the wonderfully talented and popular Pig, Alistair Clark, on their roster or be like old Samuel Lapp from Witness and shun Alistair to get behind their home team of Atlantic Rock. Messrs Landry, Burton and Kimball will have quite the predicament as having all turned out for the latter and several other Pigs have their roots there. Best of luck Alistair and no doubt you'll be the best player on the pitch once again.
The Pigs came back from Cayman Islands with great memories and many legendary stories to tell.
Bay Street RFC would like to whole heartedly thank the Cayman RFU for being such good hosts, and we hope seing you guys in Toronto soon.
For more on the Pigs adventure in Caymans:
- Cayman Select XV vs Bay Street RFC match video below
On the 4th Day Goode Created Life and Resistence is Futile
Click Here posted August 20th, 2013
Don't Poke the Bear... Click Here posted August 20th, 2013