Rugby Gaels ride into OUA semifinals

The Gaels advanced with a 27-12 victory against Carleton Wednesday afternoon.
Image supplied by: Lukasz Rygielski
The Gaels advanced with a 27-12 victory against Carleton Wednesday afternoon.

The men’s rugby team took another step in their quest to win the OUA title on Wednesday, dispatching a hard-tackling Carleton Ravens team 27-12 in the OUA quarterfinals.

The Gaels will visit the Western Mustangs in the OUA semifinals on Sunday, looking to avenge a tough 44-12 loss two weeks ago in Kingston.

Wednesday’s game started slowly, with Queen’s taking possession of the ball for the majority of the first half. The Gaels’ back line looked much sharper than it had in recent weeks by stringing together some dangerous runs, but Carleton’s backs responded with several stiff tackles.

As the first half wore on, a talented trio of second-year players emerged to spark the Queen’s offence. Winger Colin Alexander started the scoring with a try, and fly-half Bryn Davies slotted the conversion kick. Shortly after, fullback James Potter tallied another try for the Gaels off a well-executed set play. Davies made the conversion, as well as a penalty kick a few minutes later, setting up Queen’s with a 17-0 lead at halftime.

The Gaels scored again a few minutes into the second half, when veteran prop Ramsey Ida rumbled into the try zone. Carleton answered with a try of its own, but Queen’s put the game out of reach when winger Rob Leslie scooped up a bouncing kick deep in the Ravens’ end and ran it in to push the score to 27-5. Carleton managed to score a try on the last play of the game, but Queen’s coach Pete Huigenbos said he was satisfied with the win.

“We made a lot of small mistakes today, but I was really happy with our effort and overall performance,” he said.

Huigenbos said he is well aware that the Gaels will face a well-rested Mustangs squad, who received a bye through to the semifinals by virtue of their second-place finish in the regular season standings. Fortunately, Queen’s goes into the game with a healthy squad and positive momentum.

Huigenbos said the Gaels’ success on Sunday will be determined by the team’s defensive intensity.

“We’re looking to really improve our defense and come out a lot more aggressively than we did in our first game against Western,” he said.

The Queen’s players said they do not anticipate any problems reaching an appropriate level of intensity for Sunday’s game. Western has knocked Queen’s out of the OUA playoffs in each of the past two seasons, and winger Rob Leslie is one of several Gaels eager for the chance at revenge.

“Against Western, in the playoffs, it’s always going to be a battle. We’ll be ready for them on Sunday,” Leslie said.

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