The Concordia Stingers were able to retain the Kelly-Anne Drummond Cup with a 17-7 victory over crosstown rival McGill at home on Friday night.
“I’m just really glad we could do it again for Kelly-Anne,” said Stingers’ captain Jackie Tittley.
The game honoured the former Stingers’ rugby player who was murdered by her boyfriend in 2004.
Though the Stingers were able to outscore McGill in the first half, scoring two tries to McGill’s one, the game was truly won in the second half, with credit being given to a suffocating Stingers’ defence. The Stingers would not concede a point, while offensively they were able to put five of their own on the board, denying any chance of a McGill comeback.
“Defensively it’s hard to play against that much pressure for 35 out of the 40 minutes but we had a lot of resilience,” said Stingers coach Graeme McGravie. “We came right back and scored and I couldn’t be happier with the result.”
Although the ball was often in possession of the Concordia side during the first half, there were ample chances where the Stingers came away with no points. These mistakes and penalties allowed McGill to hang around longer than McGravie would have liked.
“We left two tries on the field in the first half because we didn’t execute,” he said. “We got white-line fever that almost came back to haunt us because (McGill) did not go away.”
Concordia was pressured constantly and throughout the game as McGill was knocking on the door of the try zone. Many of the McGill chances were crash plays provided by ruck-wins and penalties against the Stingers. However, every time they were faced with a challenge, the Stingers were able to put up a wall defensively.
“In moments we could have crumbled and [fallen], but we didn’t and I think everybody should be really proud of themselves” said Stingers’ second-row Sarah Nesbitt.
Nesbitt showcased astonishing skill and effort during the entire 80 minutes. She was able to steal many of the McGill lineout set plays. Nesbitt also scored a try during the first half of a lineout that became a maul in which the forward pack for Concordia simply out powered the Â opposition.
Nesbitt’s most important play though was made on the defensive side of the ball. With 23 minutes remaining in the second half and with Concordia clinging to a 12-7 lead, Nesbitt made a game-saving tackle to force a McGill player out of bounds at the one-yard line.
McGill did make other attempts at breaking the Concordia defence. Several times the McGill outside centre would hit gaps, but would never make it far enough to cause any trouble as the Stingers back three would catch up to any runs towards their end.
“We work on it a lot at practice, but the back three played a hell of a game. Very exciting and very positive part for us,” said McGravie.
Friday’s win comes after a game in Ottawa where, even though the Stingers emerged victorious 39-5, the squad was not particularly proud with their performance.
“I think the sheer fact we can bounce back from that messy game in Ottawa and play the way we did tonight demonstrates a lot of character for our team,” said Tittley.
The Stingers will face Laval on Sunday, Oct. 9 at 1 p.m. in Quebec City.