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Stingers to face undefeated McGill

by Archives October 28, 2008

The Concordia men’s rugby team dropped their last home game to the Bishop’s Gaiters 24-20 Sunday afternoon.
It was the closest the team has come to a win this season. Now saddled with a disappointing 0-6 record, winning will be an even tougher goal next week when the Stingers face the undefeated McGill Redmen.
“They’re a better team than what the record shows, but the record still stands at 0-6,” commented head coach Clive Gibson.
The failure to win hasn’t been for a lack of opportunity. With the notable exception of McGill, the biggest point spread between Concordia and the victors has been five points.
“We’re 0-6, but we could have just as easily been 3-3 or 4-2. We just have shitty breaks and lose focus for five to 10 minutes every game, that costs us a lot of points,” said fullback Courtney Bishop.
Case in point: Sunday’s game against Bishop’s.
The game started out shaky for the Stingers. They managed to get enough field position for fullback Bishop to put the ball through the uprights for three points.
The Gaiters forwards started to throw their weight around and eventually broke through the smaller Stinger defensive lines into the end zone.
The Gaiters punished Concordia for every mistake. Frustration was obvious when forward Fares Robanna was penalized for almost starting a fight with an opponent. Dropped balls, poor scrums and stolen lineouts cost Concordia as the Gaiters added another try.
It seemed like Bishops weren’t even using their back line when they widened their lead once again to 17-3. Gaiter forwards simply overpowered the Stingers and marched them backwards into their end zone.
“It’s a game of going forward and when you’re moving backward off every set piece, it’s hard to kick-start,” said Gibson.
A whole new Stinger squad hit the field in the second half.
“The last half we’ve played was phenomenal rugby,” Gibson said.
“It doesn’t mean anything in the score books, but we beat Bishop’s in the second half.”
The Stingers mounted their comeback early when fly half Ryan Leenhouts was pushed into the end zone by a pack of forwards. Bishop added the convert to make the score 17-10.
A sloppy mistake cost the Gaiters three points, as a late hit on a drop kick let Bishop put another easy kick through the uprights.
The Stingers stepped up their game when they saw the win within reach. Outside centre Jonathan Francois was outstanding in his passion and his tactical play. It seemed like he was all over the field and always in the right place at the right time. “Francois was phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. He was in a class by himself today there is no question about it,” said Gibson.
Flanker Julien Bruneau kept the ball in Concordia hands through exceptional rucking, allowing centre Jonathan Dextras space to weave his way through flat-footed Gaiters for 35 yards. The back line started making passes as they were getting hit to keep the play alive and in Bishop’s territory.
It wasn’t long before Leenhouts found a hole in the Gaiters defence to give the Stingers the lead 20-17.
With 20 minutes until the final whistle, the game’s mental aspect kicked in as Concordia tried to defend their lead without losing their heads.
Bishop’s pushed back hard into Concordia territory and forced a try-line defensive stand. The Stingers fought valiantly, but after a three minute Gaiter assault finally ceded the try to end the game 24-20.
“It’s a shame we couldn’t end with a win because we deserved it,” said Gibson after the hard fought game. “This is the best rugby we’ve played all season.”
The Stingers play against McGill on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at Molson Stadium in the first round of the playoffs.

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