Chance for payback

Two-time OUA champions well-rested after quarterfinal bye

With a win tomorrow, the Gaels would make the trip to the OUA Final with a shot at a third consecutive title on the line.
With a win tomorrow, the Gaels would make the trip to the OUA Final with a shot at a third consecutive title on the line.

The men’s rugby team has the opportunity to avenge their only loss of the regular season tomorrow.

On Sept. 28 in Hamilton, the Gaels had their 19-game winning streak snapped with an 18-13 loss at the hands of the McMaster Marauders.

Now, they’re preparing to face the Marauders again — this time on home turf, in the OUA semi-final.

Head coach Gary Gilks said his players are excited for the chance to get a measure of payback on McMaster.

“We’re looking forward to hosting them,” Gilks said. “This is the team the guys wanted to play.”

The coach added that the Gaels are treating the clash no different from any other match.

“I think our preparation will be very similar as it has been all season,” Gilks said. “We’ve gone through many scenarios getting the players ready for the game.”

Aside from their meeting with the Marauders, the Gaels were perfect during the regular season, finishing atop the OUA at 7-1.

While several starters missed the McMaster game, Gilks isn’t using it as an excuse for the loss.

“As coaches, we made some choices that may not have been the best and we’ve learned from those,” he said, “I think now we’re definitely prepared player-wise. We’re definitely going to be ready for Mac.”

In 2013, Queen’s went 7-0 in the regular season before beating McMaster 38-3 in the semi-finals. They captured the OUA title with a 40-10 victory over the Western Mustangs.

Players on both sides of the ball are drawing confidence from the regular season results, Gilks said.

“They [McMaster] have the confidence that they’ve beaten us already,” Gilks said. “They’re going to bring that to the game.”

On the other side, the Gaels are using the loss to fuel passionate play.

“We’re looking to get an early start on them and try to take momentum away from them,” Gilks said.

He added that he isn’t looking for any individual efforts during the upcoming match. Instead, he hopes his team can limit mistakes.

“I think discipline is going to be a huge factor for both teams,” he said.

Queen’s will be well-rested for the match, having earned a bye through the OUA quarterfinals after clinching first place in the league.

The Marauders played at Western on Wednesday, edging out the Mustangs 21-20. That game came after the two teams met last Saturday, as well.

“Three substantial games in seven days is always tough,” Gilks said.

“They’re going to rest [Thursday], then they travel [Friday], so they don’t really have a lot of prep time for us. That’s always difficult when you’re traveling for a big game.”

The Gaels have used their time off to rest and focus. Most of the lineup is healthy, save for forward Ryan Aimers, who was hurt in last Saturday’s 69-5 win over the Waterloo Warriors.

Aimers will sit and prepare himself for a possible return in the OUA championship game.

As for this Saturday, Gilks said he’s looking for a strong fan turnout “[The crowd is] always the 16th person on the field,” he said. “It really helps to motivate our guys.”

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