Women’s rugby advance to national championship final

Strong second half sees Queen’s pull away from Concordia 27-13

After winning 27-13, the Gaels clinches a spot in the national championship final.
After winning 27-13, the Gaels clinches a spot in the national championship final.
Lauren McEwen continued her strong play in the tournament, scoring 12 points against Concordia.
Lauren McEwen continued her strong play in the tournament, scoring 12 points against Concordia.

After breaking away in the second half of their semi-final match, the women’s rugby team is one win away from history.

Today’s 27-13 victory over the Concordia Stingers puts the Gaels in the national championship — a first in the school’s history.

Early in today’s match-up, the outcome was far from clear. Within the first two minutes, sloppy defensive play from Queen’s saw Concordia pass the ball around them with ease, leading to a try from All-Canadian Frédérique Rajotte.  The Stingers were up 5-0.

Fifth-year blindside flanker Gillian Pegg said the Gaels responded well.

“From that point on, you can go up as a team, or you can make that define the loss,” the All-Canadian said. “We stayed calm but we were still feisty. When we attacked we attacked hard.”

Related: Live Feed: Women's Rugby National Championship 

Physical play led by Pegg earned Queen’s a penalty kick, which Lauren McEwen slotted away with ease, leaving the Gaels down only 5-3.

After a penalty kick from Concordia, the Gaels regained momentum. Big runs from lock McKinley Hunt and inside centre Sadie Stephenson led to tighthead prop Lizze Thomson finding the end zone. The teams ended the half at an 8-8 deadlock.

Defence was key to separating themselves from the Stingers, Pegg said.

“I have always been a firm believer that defense is what makes a winning team,” Pegg said. “It only takes one try to win a game”.

In the second half, the Gaels rarely turned the ball over, holding most of the possession.

During one passing sequence, Pegg passed the ball off to Lauren Murray who, just before getting tackled, passed the ball to centre Lauren McEwen. With green grass in front of her, McEwen out ran the Stingers back line and scored her first try of the game. After hitting her own conversion, the Gaels would be up 15-8 with just under 30 minutes to play.

Within 10 minutes of that strike, the Gaels found the end zone once again. After driving down to the goal line, Miranda Seifert picked up the ball during a scrum and took it the rest of the way herself. After another McEwen conversion, the Gaels were up 22-8.

Although Concordia made a game out of it — they put in a try of their own — the Gaels’ pressure was too much for them to overcome.

Pippi McKay put down one more try before time ran out, leaving the final score at 27-13. For the second time in three nights, the Gaels upset a higher-ranked team.

Head Coach Beth Barz said the game was a defining moment for the team.

“They finally found their identity in being really physical and really calm today,” Barz said. “It’s really how we have to play every game.”

Looking forward to tomorrow’s rematch against McMaster, Barz says she knows both teams have been waiting for the match.

For captain Erin Geddes, the team’s efforts made the difference today.

“The effort didn’t stop. As soon as that first whistle went, we kept going,” Geddes said. “If anything, it got even better throughout the game.”

“We have a motto where we are never winning. We are always down five points, because otherwise we get complacent and too comfortable, and we have to keep just fighting and fighting to maintain those points on the board.”

Geddes added that the home crowd’s atmosphere was an X factor in the win.

“This is just so overwhelming. The crowd was insane all game. We just need to use that as an advantage tomorrow like we are down five points and just climb that mountain and beat Mac.”

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