BURNABY — The greenest team in B.C. senior boys rugby has done nothing but grow over its first-ever season.
On Thursday at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex however, the hometown Byrne Creek Bulldogs enjoyed an historic coming of age.
Macdonald Chamboko’s key second-half try proved to be pivotal in shifting the momentum of a back-and-forth match and the Bulldogs went on to record the first win in program history, 33-24 over North Vancouver’s Sutherland Sabres.
“It was fantastic,” began head coach Moreno Stefanon who launched the program this spring and watched as his team held their belief through an extended streak losing streak which was snapped on the final day of the regular season. “You would have thought we had won just won a B.C. title.”
The win also locked up a top-four finish in the Lower Mainland Double-A ranks, thus guaranteeing a provincial tourney berth for the Bulldogs who will get all they can handle next week in the zone semifinals from defending B.C. champion and No. 1-ranked Collingwood of West Vancouver.
Thursday’s win came on the heels of last Friday’s walk-off 25-24 loss to Victoria’s Glenlyon Norfolk Gryphons in the second round of the BCSSRU’s Stadium Series.
It also came despite some adversity.
The Bulldogs were playing without its top player, injured senior Italian exchange student Francesco Tosato.
“It has been an awesome couple of weeks,” Stefanon relayed of the build-up to the win. “From what we did at the (BCSSRU) 7’s to the Glenlyon game we have shown that we can play with these other programs in our first year.”
The Sabres led 17-12 at the half, but scrappy Byrne Creek got better as the match progressed.
“It was a hot day but we seemed to know how to deal with adversity,” Stefanon said.
Leading the way was senior fly-half Chidubem Nkoloagu whose pace was key in eventually turning the tide.
“What he brings is his speed as an HPL soccer player,” Stefanon added of the multi-sport phenom who also played for senior varsity basketball team. “He gets us moving forward. He gets us going. That was the biggest switch or adjustment we made. Boom, he’s through the line. He’s a game-breaker and he’s got such gas that few can catch him.”
Grade 11 Mohammad Mohammad’s big second-half break was also pivotal, as was his pass to fellow Class of 2020 teammate Chamboko for the aforementioned try.
“We were really able to build momentum from there,” said Stefanon who noted the impact scrum-half Muhammad Atasoy was able to provide throughout the match.
“Words can’t even describe it,” the coach added of the win. “But at the same time, we are setting goals and the standard was to make the provincials. Our objective is to go there and make a bit of noise. This win is fantastic but we can’t be happy with it. We have to look ahead to what is next.”
Earlier this week, Byrne Creek’s junior team beat Burnaby Mountain to win the Burnaby-New Westminster JV banner.
Look for Varsity Letter’s weekly B.C. Rugby Report every Monday.
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