Undefeated at halfway mark

Roster depth erases impact of injuries

The Gaels have allowed only 25 points against in three games.
The Gaels have allowed only 25 points against in three games.

A couple hundred loyal fans skipped a low-scoring football game to witness a women’s rugby scoring clinic.

Queen’s 67-8 win over the Toronto Varsity Blues (1-2) means the Gaels are now a perfect 3-0 at the season’s midway point, with 135 points for and 25 against. They offered no hope for the Blues, who haven’t beaten the Gaels since 2004.

Gaels head coach Beth Barz said the team’s already getting mentally prepared for next week’s crucial matchup against the McMaster Marauders (2-1).

“Today and the past couple games we’ve been working to improve decision-making,” Barz said. “I think we need to be calm, and stay excited at the same time.”

The background for next weekend’s bout is the outcome of last year’s battles with McMaster. The Marauders beat the Gaels 5-3 in the 2011 season, in order to claim the OUA East division and avoid playing Guelph — the perennial OUA champions. The Gaels finished fourth, while the Marauders took OUA silver and reached the CIS nationals tournament.

Both have placed in the OUA’s top four the past three seasons.

Saturday’s win over Toronto showed that the Gaels are still potent on offense, despite the recent losses of outside centre Mel Judges and second row player Gillian Pegg.

While both might be out for the remainder of the season, the Gaels have reason to remain calm.

First-year Nadia Popov notched 18 points against Toronto from the centre position. She’s tied for second in OUA scoring with third-year Gael Bronwyn Corrigan, sitting 11 back from the Guelph Gryphons’ Britt Benn.

“[Judges and Pegg] are obviously some big losses for us, but now we’re showing how deep we are,” Barz said.

Third-year forward Kayla Roote, who played last season at number eight, has returned from injury into the vital role at the number eight position.

“Kayla’s no stranger to the back row — she’s very comfortable.”

Barz said there were many players who took the afternoon off in preparation for next weekend’s crucial game. Second-year fly half Danielle Underwood was one of them and is expected to return.

The Gaels play at McMaster next Saturday at 2 p.m., with only three games to go before playoffs begin.

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