Second best

Gaels lose to Mustangs in OUA final

Gaels flyhalf and OUA leading scorer Liam Underwood couldn’t stop the Gaels from losing 21-15 to the Western Mustangs in the OUA final on Sunday.
Gaels flyhalf and OUA leading scorer Liam Underwood couldn’t stop the Gaels from losing 21-15 to the Western Mustangs in the OUA final on Sunday.

The men’s rugby team played in the OUA final for the fourth time in the last five seasons. They’ve lost three of those four appearances after a 21-15 defeat to the Western Mustangs in London on Sunday.

“We didn’t get the result we wanted,” captain Dan Moor said. “But ... it really wasn’t for lack of trying that we didn’t come out on top.”

Western and Queen’s were by far the two best teams in the OUA all season, outscoring opponents 299-52 and 310-41 respectively. But the Mustangs beat the Gaels in London in regular season play on Oct. 2.

In Sunday’s OUA final, the Gaels were down only 18-15 with less than two minutes left in the game. Moor said the final was close and that he couldn’t think of a point where it looked like a Western victory was imminent.

In their last OUA final appearance in 2009, Queen’s beat Western 23-19. But only seven of the 22 Gaels in Sunday’s starting lineup played in the 2009 championship.

“The guys who won that [2009] final, they’d played in the two or three previous to that,” Moor said. “When they did win that one, they [already] knew the deal, they’d been there before.”

Head coach Peter Huigenbos said his team didn’t physically match up well with Western on Sunday, something that was a trend this season.

“We were significantly undersized versus Guelph, McMaster and Western, but we had some strong wins against really good teams and very large players,” he said, adding that McMaster and Western players outweighed his players by an average of 10 to 15 pounds.

The Gaels missed halfback George Gleeson, who sat out in the final with a quad contusion. He wasn’t a starter with the team until this year, but he was named an OUA all-star along with four other Gaels this season. Huigenbos said Gleeson was a breakout player this season.

“Had you asked me at the end of last season who I would miss the most if someone was injured, I definitely would not have thought [Gleeson] would be the guy,” he said. “But that was the case. We relied on him all year and he had a great season.”

Huigenbos said his team will be more focused in the off-season after missing out on a championship.

“After you drop one, you come back more focused,” he said. “You can ask those Western guys. They just went through it and you could see how determined they were.”

The Mustangs lost in the OUA final in 2009 and 2010.

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