“The result is disappointing, but not the way we played,” said Stingers scrum-half Kevin Elliott. “We put everything we could into it and left it all on the field.”
The most anticipated matchups in the regular season for the Stingers and Redmen are those they play against each other. The only way to surmount this intensity is to put them against one another for the league championship in November. Concordia and McGill renewed their rivalry in the RSEQ Championship game for the third consecutive year on Sunday.
The tilt started at a fast pace. Each team was eager to get rid of their pre-game jitters and play to their liking. This consisted of an abundance of plays to the blindside for McGill, and from ConU the ever present speed and physicality, a staple of their brand.
“They have been utilising that strategy for three years at least,” said Concordia head coach Clive Gibson. “We prepared for it, but we got caught napping a few times for big yardage.”
McGill struck first by scoring a try, without conversion, in the 15th minute of play after capitalizing on a rare break from the ConU defence. Five minutes later, McGill was given another chance to increase their lead with a penalty kick, however it would be shanked from 28 yards out.
Redmen penalties would help the Stingers break the goose egg with 10 minutes left in the first half when kicker Joey Fulginiti put one through the uprights from 29 yards out.
Also, despite a visiting fan’s attempt to distract the kicker with a truck horn, Fulginiti remained ice cold and put up a great kick from 42 yards out sending the home crowd into an uproar as Concordia was leading 6-5 with four minutes remaining in the half.
“Whether it’s 20 or 40 yards out, if the other team gets penalties you want to make them pay,” said Fulginiti. “When you make those kicks, it’s a huge momentum boost for the squad.”
The lead would not hold up until the break. McGill scored a try when a clearing kick was caught and promptly brought back into their end with a quick juke and a well timed offload. The Redmen runner beat three defenders and put the ball down giving the visitors a 11-6 lead at the half.
The second half began with a massive surge from the Redmen. ConU stopped a sure try from being scored very early on, however a scrum that went McGill’s way made its way to one of their backs who would drive it forward for the try.
Concordia did not quit and relied on its forwards to give them another chance to put up points. When a lineout was won, this turned into a maul that drove forward and was sealed by Kim Haze Vuong with the try.
Despite a surge of momentum after the last try, ConU gave up another try with 17 minutes left when a wall played ball made its way along the wing and forward. Instead of shipping it back the other way, McGill took it and cashed in what was eventually the game winning try.
Even with a late game push by Concordia’s forward pack to force McGill to concede a penalty try, there was simply too little time left. The home crowd witnessed the very emotional Stingers side receive silver.
“We never gave up once,” said Stingers captain Dario Pellizzari. “I’m proud of the boys for how they played today and all season.”