First place clinched with crushing of Waterloo

Home-field advantage in OUA playoffs awaits men’s rugby

The Gaels 383 points scored this year ranked second in the OUA.
The Gaels 383 points scored this year ranked second in the OUA.
For the third year in a row, men’s rugby finished the year atop the OUA.
For the third year in a row, men’s rugby finished the year atop the OUA.

Men’s rugby dominated a subpar opponent on Saturday to clinch top spot in the OUA.

The Gaels (7-1) ran through the Waterloo Warriors (1-7) at Nixon, taking a 69-5 victory to finish atop the league standings for the third consecutive season. They’ll have a bye in the opening round of the post-season, advancing straight to the semi-finals.

Head coach Gary Gilks said the home-field advantage gained with the number one seed can be a major factor in a team’s success.

“Home-field is huge. This will be the third year in a row and playing at home means everything,” Gilks said. “No bus trips, you get to sleep in your own bed. It’s always that 16th man – the fans help out, everything. Playing at home is massive.”

Taking first place was harder this year than in previous seasons, Gilks added, but the Gaels earned it.

With the Guelph Gryphons lurking right behind them in the standings (7-1), Queen’s needed to get past Waterloo to clinch home field.

They did so by consistently dominating possession and ensuring Waterloo was unable to mount much of an offensive attack. Wing Kainoa Lloyd led the way, notching four tries in the match and running roughshod over the Warriors, putting forth several dazzling runs.

Fly-half Adam McQueen was the Gaels’ top scorer with 24 points in the match, tallying two tries to go along with seven conversions. Seven other Queen’s players recorded tries.

Gilks said the team’s ability to implement and adhere to their game plan led the way to the victory.

“We executed everything we had trained to do this week,” he said. “Offensively and defensively, the forwards did the work in the trenches and gave our backs our ball. I think our backs played really well today.”

With Waterloo mired in the bottom of the OUA standings, Gilks had the opportunity to sit several of the Gaels’ regular starters in place of younger talent.

He said this was in part to rest the starters’ nagging injuries, as well as to see how the younger players performed.

After the Gaels were forced to play the last few minutes of the match with 13 men on the pitch due to injury, Gilks said the fresh players provided a major boost.

“I thought they all performed well, coming off the bench,” he said. “We had talked earlier, before the game about coming off the bench and being an inspiration to those that are tired and I thought all eight [reserves] did a great job.”

Queen’s won’t know their opponent for the semi-finals until the quarterfinal games take place on Wednesday night. The Gaels will face one of the Western Mustangs, McMaster Marauders or Laurier Golden Hawks for the right to take part in the OUA championship match.

While the opposition hasn’t been assured for Saturday, Gilks said he’s looking forward to the match.

“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone here next Saturday,” he said.

OUA Playoff Schedule

OUA Quarterfinals

6. Laurier Golden Hawks @ 3. Brock Badgers: Wednesday Oct. 29, 3 p.m.

5. McMaster Marauders @ 4. Western Mustangs: Wednesday Oct. 29, 7 p.m.

OUA Semi-finals

Lowest remaining seed @ 1. Queen’s: Saturday Nov. 1, 1 p.m.

Highest remaining seed @ 2. Guelph Gryphons, Saturday Nov. 1, 3:30 p.m.

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