Defensive dominance over Trent

Depth proves key as rookies see playing time in win

In their first game back on Nixon Field in two weeks, women’s rugby reminded everyone why they’re one of the top teams in the country.

Teamwork on offense and a responsive defense led the Gaels (3-1) to a 74-10 triumph over the Trent Excalibur (2-2) on Saturday.

Forward Gillian Pegg credited the win to Queen’s defensive play.

“A lot of our standout moments of the game were on defence. Even though we did not play a lot of defence, when the ball did turn around, we stepped up,” forward Gillian Pegg said. “A lot of girls were making positive tackles and we were all being vocal about who had which player and who had the ball.”

In the first half, strong play from the forwards and pinpoint passing by the backs resulted in five tries from five different players.

Pegg, wing Karley Heyman, fly half Danielle Underwood and centre backs Melanie Judges and Lauren McEwen all got on the board for the Gaels as the women finished the half with a commanding 35-0 lead.

The second half demanded a strong defence from the Gaels, as Trent pushed towards the goal line. Despite conceding two tries, the Gaels regained possession and responded with more scores of their own.

Pegg and McEwen each added another try, while wing Caitie Ryan and forward Emma Chown also crossed the try line, ending the game 74-10.

McEwen’s 24 points in the game gave her 164 on her career — the most in school history.

While the team made some errors, Pegg said they were expected, as it was a game to take risks.

“We knew this team was not our top competition, so that gave us the opportunity to try new things without feeling too much pressure to have a win against them, which can sometimes cause a lot of girls to act more cautious, especially in terms of decision-making,” she said.

“So it was a great game to put players in, it was a great game to get people to try new things and not be afraid to go out 100 per cent.”

This risk-taking mentality also resulted in some new players making the line-up. Head coach Beth Barz said she was pleased by the performances of several rookies, including forwards Jamie-Lee Deschenes and Tanya Hasenberger.

“It is great to mix them in with the vets and give them some game time,” Barz said.

Trying new things was a risky move, but Barz said she was confident in her decision.

“We would have liked to have a zero on the other end. But again, we put people that are new and we expect them to make a few mistakes. And Trent made us pay for that. But I would not do it any other way.”

Additionally, Barz said she’d like to see the Gaels’ issues with kicking and receiving resolved.

“It is a bit of comedy of errors going on with that. It is nothing that cannot be fixed, however,” she said. “But beyond that, body position and getting into rucks is excellent so we won’t be changing anything there.”

The Gaels wrap up their regular season on Saturday, when they host the Western Mustangs (2-2). The game is a rematch of last year’s OUA semi-final, where Queen’s prevailed 30-15.

OUA Russell Division Standings

1. McMaster (3-0-1) – 17 pts

2. Queen’s (3-1-0) – 16 pts

3. Trent (2-2-0) – 10 pts

4. York (2-2-0) – 9 pts

5. Toronto (0-4-0) – 0 pts

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