Stingers advance to the finals

Photo by Andrej Ivanov

Men’s rugby team defeated the Carabins 16-14 in the RSEQ semi-final

They didn’t make it easy for themselves. It came down to a last-minute defensive stand, but Concordia’s men’s rugby team held onto the victory over the Carabins of the Université de Montréal in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) semi-final on Sunday, Nov.16.

“It was a lot closer than it should’ve been, than it needed to be,” said Stingers head coach Clive Gibson. “We once again took too many penalties, put ourselves under a lot more pressure than we needed to be under.”

Despite escaping with a 16-14 win, it did not seem like the Stingers came out ready to play. From their initial possession, the Carabins took it to the Stingers and kept them hemmed in their own end for the majority of the first half. Concordia’s defensive play was what kept the score even at zero for the first 20 minutes of the match.

“Hats off to UdeM for bringing it strong. They gave us a real run for our money. It was the closest game we’ve had against them all season,” said Gibson.

By the time the first half had reached its midway point, the Stingers offense began to show signs of life, gaining more and more possession as the game progressed. Concordia capitalized on their little time on attack and scored the first points of the game on a try by veteran winger Frederic Kacou. Up 5-0 with 26 minutes gone in the first half, the Stingers fed off of the change in momentum and set the pace for the rest of the half.

Shortly after their first try, Stingers captain Yannick Fortin broke the Carabins’ defence for Concordia’s second try of the game. Even with a couple of crucial missed kicks by Stingers fullback Joey Fulginiti, the Stingers headed into halftime up 10-0.

Awaken from their somber start, the Stingers came out in the second half with the same energy that they finished the first with. Fulginiti made up for his early misses and made two kicks in the second to give Concordia a 16-0 lead. With such strong defensive lines and timely scoring, it seemed as if the Stingers had punched their ticket to the finals.

With 20 minutes left in the game, the Carabins finally wore down Concordia’s defence and made it 16-7 with their first try of the game. After the score, the momentum quickly changed in favour of the Carabins and the Stingers were forced to rely on their defence for the remainder of the game.

With five minutes left in the match, the Carabins scored their second try of the game to make it 16-14, setting up an exciting finish. The final moments of the game seemed to drag on for the nervous Concordia crowd as the Carabins got closer and closer to scoring. The game came down to a final goal line push by the Carabins, but as it did all game, Concordia’s last line of defence refused to break.

Concordia will host the McGill Redmen next Sunday, Nov. 23 in the RSEQ finals. Both the games against the Redmen this year came down to the wire. Although the Redmen beat the Stingers in the season opener, the last game between the two teams ended in a 17-17 draw.

“Hopefully we’ve got that bad game out of the way and we come out strong against McGill next week because that certainly wasn’t one of our better games, [but] we won. Can’t complain,” said Gibson.

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