Clash of the titans

Western returns to Nixon Field for championship rematch

Forward Jacob Rumball rumbles through the Brock Badgers’ defensive line in last Saturday’s OUA semi-final. Queen’s won 46-3 to advance to Sunday’s championship game against the Western Mustangs.
Forward Jacob Rumball rumbles through the Brock Badgers’ defensive line in last Saturday’s OUA semi-final. Queen’s won 46-3 to advance to Sunday’s championship game against the Western Mustangs.
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Queen’s is looking to avenge last year’s 21-15 OUA final loss to Western.
Queen’s is looking to avenge last year’s 21-15 OUA final loss to Western.
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Veteran players Liam Underwood (with ball) and Dan Moor recently returned to the Gaels after stints with the Ontario Blues men’s side.
Veteran players Liam Underwood (with ball) and Dan Moor recently returned to the Gaels after stints with the Ontario Blues men’s side.
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Two men’s rugby heavyweights will duke it out for the OUA crown this Sunday at Nixon Field.

The Western Mustangs defeated Queen’s in last year’s final, but Gaels winger Graham Turner believes this year’s a different story.

“We have the best team in the OUA,” Turner said. “We showed it in the regular season, and we’re going to show it on Sunday.”

A lot has changed since Queen’s beat Western in London three years ago for the OUA title, but the rivalry is still intact.

Recent history favours the Mustangs (7-1), who’ve won the past two OUA championships. They’ve also beaten Queen’s in every contest since the 2009 final.

Queen’s (7-1) placed first in this year’s OUA standings, despite having lost 22-20 to the Mustangs earlier this season.

“There’s a bit of a chip on our shoulders,” Turner said. “Ever since last year, we’ve been waiting for another crack at these guys.

“I think it’s in the back of [Western’s] minds — they know we’re the best team in the league this year.”

The return of several key players will make an impact on Sunday’s game. Both squads had players on representative sides across Canada, who missed most of the OUA season as a result.

The Gaels’ Liam Underwood and Dan Moor played alongside Mustangs Seb Pearson, Rory Tomlinson and Ryan Tomlinson for the Ontario Blues during September and October, missing several OUA games in the process.

Underwood was able to transition easily back into the team, scoring 43 points in just three games.

“[I was] maybe a little rusty that first game back in Guelph, but it’s been three games now,” Underwood said. “I think we’ve played together long enough.”

Mustangs’ inside centre Conor Trainor helped beat the Gaels in September, but his status is questionable for Sunday. The Canadian international missed the semifinal against Guelph and is rumoured to be sidelined by a shoulder injury.

The 2009 OUA championship win over Western is a distant memory for Underwood, but he’s aiming to bring the feeling back to Queen’s.

“We won it in our first year but we haven’t won it again since,” Underwood said. “It’ll be nice to win with all these guys again — before everyone leaves.”

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