First winless weekend for rugby

Men sustain first loss of the season while women suffer second straight defeat

Queen’s centre Julie Engelhart gets some repairs during the Gaels’ 8-7 loss to Waterloo. She later returned to action.
Queen’s centre Julie Engelhart gets some repairs during the Gaels’ 8-7 loss to Waterloo. She later returned to action.
Queen’s forward Laura Cooney lunges forward with the ball against Waterloo.
Queen’s forward Laura Cooney lunges forward with the ball against Waterloo.

The Queen’s rugby teams had their least successful weekend of the season as both the men’s and women’s teams suffered defeat.

Last Friday the women’s team lost at home to the University of Waterloo 8-7 while the men traveled to Brock University and fell to the Badgers 26-7 on Saturday.

It was the first time in more than two years that the men’s team allowed four tries in one game.

Men’s head coach Peter Huigenbos gave full credit to the Gaels’ opposition.

“I thought Brock played an excellent game,” he said. “They had a very good game plan and they stuck to it.”

Huigenbos said the loss was a wake-up call for his team.

“It really triggered our guys to take a step back and look at where we need to improve and put the hard work in,” he said.

Prior to the loss, the Gaels had outscored their opposition 185-13 and hadn’t lost a game.

Huigenbos said there are a number of potential reasons why the team lost their focus.

“Having the bye week before [the Brock game], travelling for the first time overnight this year … but there definitely aren’t excuses and doesn’t excuse our poor play,” he said.

The Gaels were down 12-0 at the end of the first half.

In the second half, winger Alistair Clark scored the Gaels’ only try and Bryn Davies added the conversion.

Clark said the team remains focused despite the loss.

“We hadn’t really come across a real test,” he said. “This was the first chance we had to play a quality team. It’s just another step towards our goal.”

Clark said the team had trouble stringing together set pieces.

“We were dropping the ball and we weren’t making smart decisions,” he said. “The way we played, 12-0 was an okay score to escape with.”

Queen’s winger Zach Pancer said the game wasn’t a setback for the Gaels.

“I don’t think it’s a step back; I think it’s more of an eye opener to the potential of other teams.”

Pancer said the team may have been guilty of looking ahead to their game against the Western Mustangs this weekend instead of focusing on the task at hand.

“I think our minds might have been on Western cause it’s kind of a bigger game,” he said.

The loss drops the Gaels into a tie for first in the East Division with the Badgers. Both teams have 3-1 records.

Huigenbos said there will be changes to the roster for this week’s game.

“I’m likely bringing Josh Chambers into the side—a hard-working good athlete who will give the guys the spark they need,” he said.

Huigenbos expects a hard-fought game against bitter rival Western.

“We have our work cut out for us,” he said. “They’re coming off a loss as well [to McMaster]; they’re looking to get back on their front foot just like us.”

Men’s rugby faces Western on Saturday at Kingston Field. Kickoff is 1 p.m.

On Friday, the women’s team dropped a hard-fought 8-7 game to Waterloo.

After falling behind 8-0 in the second half, Rose LaBreche scored a try and Jenny Reid added the conversion to bring the Gaels within one, but that was as close as they would get to their opponents’ score.

Head coach Beth Barz said the team’s performance was a significant upgrade from the previous week, when they lost 50-0 to the Guelph Gryphons.

“Our performance compared to the prior weekend was significantly improved. I was really happy with what I saw,” she said.

Barz said the difference between the two games was obvious.

“We showed up. Everything was different: the whole approach to the game was entirely different, our practices were really focused and players had a different attitude going into the game.”

Barz said the team needs to learn to capitalize on its scoring opportunities if it wants to win.

“We had a couple of opportunities in the first five minutes to score and we just didn’t take those big-play opportunities and turn them into points,” she said. “We didn’t take the bull by the horns when we could have had some big game-turning plays.”

The loss puts the Gaels on the road for the OUA quarter-finals against defending league champion Guelph, who handed the Gaels their most devastating loss of the season two weeks ago.

Barz said the team’s approach doesn’t change despite the formidable opposition.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily any more motivation than it would be to play a different team,” she said. “I believe it’s entirely winnable and the girls believe that as well.”

Barz said she expects a total team effort.

“Everybody’s capable of stepping up,” she said. “Every player on the field is capable of dominating offensively and defensively.”

Women’s rugby will face Guelph on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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