On Sunday, men’s rugby matched up against what head coach Dave Butcher called “the dark horse” of the OUA, the Laurier Golden Hawks, coming away with a 55-22 win.
“That’s the most we’ve been tested,” Butcher said, referencing the Gaels’ previous opponents this season.
With the game at a 0-0 gridlock for the first twenty minutes, both teams worked to gain the upper hand. That opportunity came with a place kick for the Gaels, giving them a narrow 3-0 lead.
But after letting the Golden Hawks score their first try of the game, the score at halftime was just 10-7 for Queen’s.
“They came with a lot of physicality and we couldn’t manage it too well in the first half,” Butcher said. “That’s what we spoke about at half time, and that’s what really changed in the second.”
The coach credited the tight half time score to Queen’s lack of preparedness and Laurier’s strong play from the outset of the match.
“We were a little sloppier on the contact area [and] weren’t dealing with their plays,” Butcher said. “They came with a specific game plan and executed it really well in the first half, and we didn’t match them.”
Mid-way through the second half the Gaels hit their stride—scoring 33 points in the final 30 minutes of play.
— Queen’s Gaels (@queensgaels) September 9, 2018
Looking forward to the rest of the season, Butcher said Laurier exposed where his team’s weaknesses are. Namely, the Gaels are starting fast enough to open games.
“[Laurier] came in with a plan that tried to really upset us and we let them get away with it in the first half,” he said. “[B]ut it’s a show of resilience and of character to come back.”
According to the Gaels’ coach, Queen’s fourth-year scrum half Mike Douros—an OUA All-Star in the 2017-18 season—was the most impactful player on the field. He joined six different Gaels who scored tries for the team.
Scrum half Dylan Young, who recorded a try on the day, was named the Investors Group OUA Peak Performer last week following a career-high 19 points in last week’s match against the Waterloo Warriors.
Looking ahead, the next time the Gaels are likely to face Laurier will be in the playoffs—potentially in the OUA semi-finals, if Queen’s and Guelph finish in first and second places as presumed.
In three weeks, Queen’s will face off against Guelph in a rematch of last season’s OUA Final, in which the former won 62-17.
With a 2-0 record and six regular season games to go, the Gaels will have plenty of opportunities to improve on their strong start. For Butcher, that means keeping his team focused on taking one game at a time.
“We’ll still be going in with the same mindset to perform,” he said.
This weekend the Gaels will travel to Toronto to take on the U of T Varsity Blues, who’re still looking for their first win of the season.
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