Marauders downed at Nixon

Division championship within reach after season-opening win

Claudia DiFrancesco extended Queen's lead with a second-half try.
Claudia DiFrancesco extended Queen's lead with a second-half try.

Facing what will be their toughest test of the 2013 regular season, Queen’s took early control of the OUA East division.

The nationally fourth-ranked women’s rugby team prevailed 33-21 over the McMaster Marauders on Saturday, winning their season opener for the fifth year in a row. The Gaels now have an inside track on winning their division by defeating last season’s divisional runner-ups.

“Normally, we face McMaster closer to the end, so it was a real nice test having them as our first game because we had to be prepared for it,” said Gaels head coach Beth Barz. “Now, we have a few other games where we can work on tweaking a few things.

“There have been some coaching changes in the OUA this year, and it’s going to be a good challenge for the rest of the season,” she added.

Rugby (W): Queen's takes their season opener 33-21, topping McMaster. Toughest test of the Gaels' regular season, and they more than passed.

— QJ Sports (@QJsports) September 7, 2013

Led by fourth-year lock Lauren McEwen, who scored 13 points, the Gaels took a commanding 28-7 lead at Nixon Field, before the Marauders rallied to make the score more respectable.

To the surprise of the home fans, the Marauders scored the first points of the game, as the Gaels missed a few tackles on defence and gave up an early try and convert.

Trailing 7-0, Queen’s stiffened considerably on defence and eventually got rolling offensively. McEwen scored in the 14th minute after breaking a goal line tackle attempt from a Marauder, later adding another try and a penalty convert.

McEwen was also the star when these two teams met last season, scoring 15 points to lead all players.

“We knew that we were going to come out with the win,” McEwen said. “We responded right back after we gave up that try and there was no doubt in the minds of the players at all that we could come back and win.”

Nobody beats the @queensgaels women's rugby team! #queensu

— Steve Mattiussi (@Ottawa_Steve) September 7, 2013

McMaster had trouble attempting to cross the halfway line, as the Gaels dominated throughout stretches of the first half. Queen’s took their first lead of the game in the 23rd minute, when fourth-year forward Kayla Roote scored after a five-yard run.

McEwen tallied her second try of the game before halftime as the Gaels showed great ball movement and took advantage of outside runs to penetrate the McMaster defence.

“I think we recognized the space really well and we definitely exploited their weakness, which was their outside,” McEwen said. “That was the game plan going in, and everyone was on the same page on offence.”

The Gaels kept the pressure coming as they scored two quick tries after halftime, holding a seemingly insurmountable 28-7 lead with 16 minutes left. The Marauders made one final push to close the gap to seven, with fly half Stephanie Black scoring two tries in a seven-minute span.

In the end, Gaels second-year centre Miranda Seifert scored with a minute left in the match to put the game out of reach.

The Gaels will now travel to York on Sept. 13 to face the Lions, who went 3-3 in 2012. Queen’s topped York 72-11 in last year’s regular season finale.

Too bad I missed the @queensgaels football game today, but glad I got to cover their women's rugby game. But man, Kingston is already chilly

— Jaehoon Kim (@jckim91) September 7, 2013

Instant Replay

In recent years, the Queen’s-McMaster game has carried huge implications for CIS nationals.

The Marauders won the matchup and the OUA East division in 2011, while the Gaels prevailed in 2012.

Both victors advanced to the national tournament in their winning year – an honour Queen’s will look to reclaim in 2013.

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