A swift Stinger charge in the second half left the McGill Martlets speechless in the RSEQ semi-finals. A passing McGill player was overheard murmuring, “I can’t believe it, I don’t know what happened.”
During the first half, the Stingers started off shaky by repeatedly not getting straight lineouts, and allowing McGill various free kicks. However, Concordia clearly dominated the scrums and the drives by keeping low and binding strong. As a result, the Stingers gained continuous possession and lots of yards.
Fourteen minutes into the first half, Concordia fly-half Erika Hamilton scored the first try as she pulled a clever play.
“Erika’s was a great solo effort, we had practiced shooting gaps and she shot the gap she used the other runner as a dummy that was fantastic,” said Stingers head coach Graeme McGravie.
Near the end of the first half, McGill was desperately attempting to get points on the board before halftime, since they were unable to break free from Concordia’s strong defence.
With two minutes left in the first half, Casey Thorburn, a centre for McGill, scored a try thanks to some quick passes and excellent linebreaks, evening the score, 5-5.
With 16 minutes left on the board in the second half, McGill seemed to try to play up their offence, getting dangerously close to Concordia territory when the back line was pushing through.
However, McGill was called for a penalty allowing Hamilton to quickly execute an excellent kick to the ball to clear their line.
This was followed by effective driving mauls and quick tackles every time McGill attempted a run. The pressure on McGill pushed them to make simple errors such as gaining offside penalties. This made it easier for Concordia to keep possession and charge with full force to gain territory. Concordia inevitably scored another try, winning the game 18-8.
The Stingers speedy centre, Latoya Blackwood, greatly contributed to the win. She charged fearlessly during the second half, after some great passes were made by her teammates.
“I’m proud of how we overcame challenges,” said Blackwood. A yellow card for No. 8 Hughanna Gaw was one of those moments. “We were down a player for about 10 minutes, but we stuck together and were not defeated. We did what we needed to do to win.”
Concordia played with more confidence and coordination in the second half.
“In the first half we didn’t play our game at all,” said Blackwood. “We let McGill control the pace and so second half we just wanted to go out there and accomplish the goals we planned out during practice and we succeeded at it.”
Even McGill head coach Vince deGrandprÃ© was impressed by the Stingers. “I think that [Concordia] might be more experienced and well organized,” he said. “Those girls are committed, they’re strong, they’re fit and they deserved to win.”
DeGrandprÃ© mentioned that star Concordia players such as Gaw, Blackwood, and Jackie Tittley are an intimidating line of players. “They’re a tough act to go up against.”
“I’m happy we won; we grabbed them down and pulled it out,” said McGravie. “They decided to stick together and play as a team rather than playing as 15 individuals.”
With a game against Laval ahead, a return to the CIS national semifinals is on the line for the Stingers. Concordia was defeated both times they played Laval this season.
Concordia will play Laval Oct. 29 at 1 p.m. in Quebec City.