The Gaels came from behind against the undefeated Western Mustangs Saturday, scoring on the final play to tie their first away game of the season 12-12.
Head coach Peter Huigenbos said he was happy with the performance.
“We definitely put in an 80-minute effort today,” he said. “We were a bit sloppy at times, but we played the full game. The boys showed great composure to score on the last play. … We prepared well for the road game. We came out flying, played some good defence. It was 7-0 at halftime and it could’ve been more, but we just weren’t making that last pass.”
Although Queen’s put in a strong effort in the first half, with Western only managing to keep the ball in the Tricolour end for 15 minutes, the play remained even. Neither team gained or lost any ground until the end of the first half when Gaels’ flanker Pat Richardson ploughed through the Mustang line to score the first try of the game. Inside centre Ryan Kruyne converted to give the Gaels a lead going into the break.
Discipline took a backseat to intensity in the second half. Queen’s fullback Colin Alexander ploughed through a Western player midair, drawing an immediate yellow card and putting him out for 10 minutes. With a man down, the Gaels conceded their first try of the game, but kept the lead when Western failed to convert. Queen’s second yellow card led to Western’s second try, and the conversion gave the Mustangs a 12-7 lead late in the game.
Once the Gaels returned to full strength, they turned up the pressure on the Mustangs. In extra time, the Gaels’ prayers were answered when a powerful run from wing Jamie Armstrong set up Richardson’s second try of the game.
Working with a tough angle, Kruyne missed the far goalpost by mere inches on the conversion, leaving the Gaels with a hard-fought draw against the Mustangs.
As for the penalties, Huigenbos said he agreed with the first yellow card and that the second one was a result of the referee’s scrum interpretation, but he was proud of the way his team reacted to playing 20 minutes of the game a man down.
“It shows our boys’ character to play one quarter of the game a man down and still come out with the draw,” he said.
Richardson said the Gaels were prepared for this game to be their hardest yet.
“We knew it was going to be hard, but we’ve been looking forward to it for a while,” he said.
“We weren’t tested this season, so we were looking forward to our first test.”
Though they drew, Richardson said he was happy with the way the team played against the bigger Western side.
“We played pretty well, we wanted to be physical and set the tone early, and we did that.”
The Gaels will continue their push for an unbeaten season this Friday when they visit the McMaster Mauraders in Hamilton.
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