Burlington Centaurs got off to a winning start in the 2016 season with home victories for all 3 men’s team on Saturday at Sherwood Forest Park. The return of the Berties was highly celebrated and well attended by the senior players past and present who managed to squeeze by Wilmot 33 – 22 in the curtain raiser. The 2nd XV dominated local rivals Hamilton with a 29 – 0 scoreline demonstrating the teams gritty and at times polished performance. Standout performances by Mike Doherty, Captain Zach Dundas and fly-half Juan Palacio were the highlights.
The 1st XV took on Hamilton in the eagerly anticipated derby start to the season and game out of the gates flying only for an uncharacteristic error to gave the Hornets a 7-0 lead against the run of play. A penalty by Brendan Bryan would cut that lead to 4 followed by a try by the Centaurs which would lead to a 10 – 8 scoreline at half. Hamilton had dominated the breakdown in the first half frustrating Burlingtons wide game plan attempt forcing coach Jon Goldie to make changes at half to both personnel and the strategy. Thomas Pichet and Robbie Carter came on to great effect allowing the Centaurs to compete more effectively in both the loose and the tight and this would manifest itself in another score for the Centaurs shortly after the second half commenced. This allowed workhorse Jeff Brownson to influence the game more on his own terms and the Centaurs began to put phases together more consistently. Another mixup however of the back of a dominant scrummage would gift Hamilton their second try and put the Centaurs on the back foot again. Trailing by 2 points with 5 minutes to go the Centaurs showed their trademark quality of great heart leading to sustained pressure against a stuffy Hamilton side. Good setup play would lead to quick hands by the backs to set free Matt Woodley who would beat his man on the outside to finish under the posts for a fine try which would be converted by Brendan Bryan. Scrum half Zach Shurtleff would finish the game by kicking the ball out of play for a fine 22-17 win against their fiercest rivals. Coach Jon Goldie although unhappy with the performance was satisfied with the win and noted the Centaurs will have to be much better next week against Niagara Wasps if they are going to make it 2 wins out of 2.