“It wasn’t our day,” said captain Hughanna Gaw after the Stingers women’s rugby team lost the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) finals against the McGill Martlets 41-34 last Friday night.
The first half proved hard for the Stingers. McGill scored their first try two minutes into the game with no conversion. Concordia only answered back to it six minutes later with a try scored by Jenna Giuliani after an impressive run to the try line.
The McGill forwards dominated the Stingers in rucks, pushing them over like they weren’t a team that ended their regular season with a 7-0 sweep. Concordia’s lineouts in the first half were unbalanced but they made it work. Their saving grace was their scrums; their force and power had nothing on McGill’s forward pack.
However, they seemed to know McGill’s defensive line would knock their backs further down the field so they made the choice to end many of their scrums with quick pick-and-go’s by Gaw.
Meanwhile, McGill’s true strength lied with their backs. They lined up perfectly on defense, eliminating gaps and making sure they took the wind out of the maroon-and-gold. They never gave up on a tackle, proving in the first half that it takes more than one girl to bring down Alexandra Tessier, a powerhouse centre in the Stingers backline.
After a missed opportunity for a penalty kick, McGill came back with a vengeance, scoring two tries and, subsequently, two conversions within a minute and a half of each other, bringing the score to 19-5 for McGill.
With three minutes left to the half, Concordia brought the ball ten meters from the McGill try line, pushing it even closer with a driving scrum. Darcie Largan, one of the Stingers backs, got her hands on it and bolted to the try line. The try was eventually scored by prop Solange De Blois and converted by Alexandra Ste. Marie, bringing the score up by seven points to 19-12.
With one minute left of the half, McGill scored and converted, making the score 24-12.
By halftime, it was clear that changes needed to be made on the Stingers end of the field. After a couple of player positions were switched around, Concordia came back with a newfound determination.
“The first three-quarters of the game we simply made too many mistakes, be it dropped balls or missed tackles. They were mistakes that we couldn’t afford to make in the finals,” said Gaw, who was moved from No. 8 to centre in the second half. “We came back in the second half, cleaned up our mistakes and got back to our game plan.”
Six minutes into the second half, Ste. Marie scored a three-point penalty kick, making the score 24-15. Right after that, McGill scored and converted another two times, which left the score at 38-15.
The two tries were answered by Stingers lock Samantha Ewing and Gaw. Both conversions were made, making the score 38-29. McGill scored a penalty kick quickly after, leaving Gaw to bring the final score—with an unconverted try—to 41-34.
Concordia fought hard for the last 20 minutes of the game, never giving up and hitting back when McGill knocked them down.
Gaw, the lead try-scorer for her final game with Concordia, put it best, “It isn’t the way that you ever want it to end, but we definitely didn’t go down without a fight.”
“I thought we played very poorly in the first 30 minutes and that was the difference in the game as we did not have enough time to come back all the way,” head coach Graeme McGravie said. “[It’s] hard to win a game when only play half of it.”
“It is a disappointing end to an otherwise very good season,” McGravie continued. “We saw a lot of people come of age on the field this year and I am excited that most of them are eligible to return back for the 2014 season. Our tackling needs to improve across the board if we are to be considered challengers for next year.”