On Saturday, Sept 13, the Abbotsford men travelled to Trout Lake Park (AKA John Hendry Park) in Vancouver to face the SFU 1st and 2nd division sides. 43 Abbotsford players saw the field for the two teams as Abbotsford won 62-7 in division 1 and 60-0 in division 2. Meanwhile, the Abbotsford women opened the season at Hume Park in New West against United. The Abby ladies won 17-12 in the spirited match.
The men arrived to find a less than perfect pitch, complete with a patch of rolling hills in one corner and a end goal line that danced around a massive tree that was precariously located in the middle of the end zone. Upon inquiry into the state of the field, the Abbotsford team learned that some restructuring in the facilities department at SFU had forced them to temporarily move fields.
Irrespective of the pitch conditions, both teams took to the field and produced two spirited matches in which 43 Abbotsford men saw the field. In the second division game, things got off to a fairly quick start with new prop Shane Beacham using all of his size to ramble in from 15 meters out carrying many SFU players on his back as he touched down for the opening try. Abbotsford continued to pressure the home side and saw fantastic breaks from Jeremy Swaan, who scored himself and was able to off-load twice to Riley Saliken for two dynamic support tries.
The first game of the division 2 season was certainly not without errors, but the Abbotsford support play continued to generate tries, including scores from Colby Crawford (2), Shea Bourquin, Kavin Mund, Jeremy Neumann, and another for Riley Saliken. Scott Giebelhaus added three converts while Shea Bourquin kicked two. At the post match function, Mark Adams was named back of the match and Joel Brown, playing for the first time as a flanker, earned forward of the match.
In the Division 1 game, the Abbotsford men got off to a slow start and struggled to shake some of the rust that had built up over the off-season. Khaene Hirschman put the Abby team up 3-0 with a penalty kick about 10 minutes. SFU answered with a converted try about 15 minutes in to put the home side up 7-3.
Abbotsford quickly battled back and began to play with more synchrony. A great gap break by Joel Neufeld produced a quick offload to Graeme MacRury who was in great support position to scamper across the line for Abbotsford's first try. Abbotsford scored again soon after when Scott Hunter took a quick tap penalty and lowered his 6'7" frame to drive over the line from 5 meters out. Konrad Rybkowski added another try after finding a hole in the SFU defense on the outside.
The second half saw a few changes in personnel and the Abbotsford team did not let up pressure. Riley Saliken came in at scrum half and made some outstanding breaks to earn himself two tries and ramp his tally to 5 ties for the day. Jeremy Swaan also managed to punch two tries across the line on dynamic runs from the number 8 position. Nathan Jones and Joel Neufeld rounded out the scoring for the men with Khaene Hirschman adding a convert and Tanner Hunter hitting six converts. At the post-match function, players of the game were awarded to Mark Moody in the forwards for playing nearly 140 minutes of rugby on the day, and to Riley Saliken in the backs for his outstanding performance and five try day. The men play Surrey at Sullivan Heights next weekend in their second game of the season.
The Abbotsford Women took on United in their first game of the season at Hume Park in New Westminster. It was a spirited match that saw many scoring opportunities for both teams. Megan Hamm, a stand-out player for the BC U-19 women at the summer National Championship, managed to touch down two tries in the game. Stephanie McLean added another try with Kia McGhee kicking through a convert. Abbotsford won the game by a score of 17-12. The Abbotsford Women play their next game at SFU on Sept 20.