Men’s First XV versus Toronto Balmy Beach June 22nd, 2019
Men do not stand united against opposition simply because it is right, or that the sensation is pleasurable. Indeed, it is often the opposite. Sometimes standing against an opponent leads to much strife and injury. In the face of great odds many will simply shrug and stand aside, yet there are those brave few who will stand against a would-be onslaught not because it is easy, but because it is hard.
This is the story of the Burlington Centaurs Men who lined the field on the 22nd, Burlington’s Alumni Weekend. They faced off against the Toronto Balmy Beach, a team who has held position in the highest ranks of Ontario’s leagues for many years. Surely some months ago the idea of Burlington holding their own against the Beach would have seemed laughable. However, those laughing would have been outsiders to the Burlington clubhouse as anyone who has been present in recent years and had witnessed the evolution of this club would have clearly foreseen the result on this day.
With Burlington starting the match kicking to Beach the excitement began immediately as Nate Bryan would defeat his opposite number catching the kick off that mere seconds before had left his younger brothers boot. This opening moment set the tone for Burlington attack in the first half.
With strength in Burlington attack, Beach players sought advantage through other avenues; the less reputable sort. Luckily, Centaurs are well versed in this type of game and maintained cool heads even as a Beach player would cross the try line for the first points of the game.
The Balmy Beach proving themselves with strong set pieces, it would seem that Burlington was in dangerous territory. However, the game began to evolve. Something strange was happening on the field. Each Burlington player that ran with the ball seemed to be breaking the gain line. Evident as it took several Beach players to bring down one Brendan Gilbert on one of his more illustrious runs of the day. Players afraid of contact at this level of the sport? Impossible, one would think.
This change in the game would be further exemplified as Andrew Wilson would shrug off four defenders to score to the right of the posts. An easy kick for Brendan Bryan and the Centaurs would take the lead.
Beach would respond by making a steady march down the field, however the difference being that a singular Centaur was certainly capable of making his tackle on his opposition. Beach mistakes and cerebral Burlington play exemplified exquisite control of open play. Alas, a penalty in Burlington’s half would allow a convert and Beach to take the lead.
Once again Burlington began to assault the thin Beach line and the cracks were evident. A steady march up the field would see Jamie McNaughton bump two defenders to the ground before crashing in for a try. Giving the Centaurs the lead 12-8 at half.
As the whistle blew and Beach took possession of the ball it was clear to see that they had flash, but lacked the pure physicality the Centaurs had cultivated in their breeding program. This led to some frustration on the Beach side and some resulting chippy play.
Chippy indeed, but having no affect on Burlington forward momentum as one of the finest trys of the year was scored by Jordan Tanner who made a cheeky chip over the heads of Beach defenders, catching the ball, and scoring to the immediate left of the posts.
Despite a slew of mistakes, the Beach would manage to score some points some minutes later. However, their celebration was short lived as Burlington tightened the screws down once more and proved that continuous phase play will decimate a weak defense. After 5 minutes of Burlington continually punching the ball forward, A. Wilson would go over the tryline once more. With a smooth conversion it seemed that Burlington had won the second half and the game. However, it would be remiss not to mention a valiant return to form by the Beach team who would go on to score three more trys.
With missed kicks and too little too late, the Beach would fall short leaving the Centaurs victorious 26-23. A winning game that sends a clear message to any would be competitor: We, the boys of Centaurs, deserve to be here and will defy anyone who does not believe this to be true.
Men’s 2nds XV versus Balmy Beach 22-6-19
In the Royal British Navy experience was hard won. Some boys would join the service as young as 13 years old. They would be seen over by executive officers and raised in a system that was violent and unforgiving. Their survival depended on the experience of the officer in charge of training them.
In this sense, the Burlington Centaurs has very good officers. Facing off against the Toronto Balmy Beach the Men’s 2nd team’s work was cut out for them. A team with a combination of youthful innovation and experienced grit; the odds stacked in favour of the boys from the Golden Horseshoe.
With kick off came an intense interchange with exceptional intensity coming from Daryl Tharby, Kyle Wilkins, and Vikram Bhardwaj. Burlington responded with stalwart defense and proved to be unafraid on offence, a strategy that would lead to a try some 15 minutes into the game.
With Burlington on the upswing it became apparent that the Beach was frustrated and began retaliating within the loosest terms of rugby law. However, Burlington was undeterred and offered up a firm defense. With the Beach being in emotional disarray and fighting tooth and nail for any sort of foot hold in the game; allowed Burlington to push forward on the wing and score a try seeing Jake Omay push one over the line.
At half the Centaurs stood above with a cool lead of 12-0 over the Balmy Beach. However, with renewal of play a different story would unfold in the second half. Indeed, it would seem as though the Beach had had some stern words amongst themselves and had steeled themselves towards a further more effective offensive.
Burlington would strike first pushing lock Graham Smith over the line. As the Centaurs retreated beyond half it was clear the Beach was concocting revenge soon to be realized. With renewed belligerency, Burlington responded with strong defense led in part by our number 10 Ryan Matthews. Though there was a valiant fight, Beach would punch a try through to put them on the board for the first time.
Burlington again would rise to the call of defense, but would would be disappointed as Beach would march another try over the line. Strong defense and small mistakes would see another try making its way over the line again shortly after making the score 17-21.
Late in the second half Burlington would make a penalty kick rounding the score up to 20-21. However, player error with misplaced pick-and-go’s and a failure of senior players to adhere to a set game plan would lead to the Centaurs demise; falling one point short of victory.
This was an upset for the Burlington Centaurs Men’s 2nd team who have had an exemplary season thus far.