Women’s rugby disposes of Lions

Gaels look forward to semi-final against Guelph

Emma Chown scored three tries against York, putting her season total at 12.
Emma Chown scored three tries against York, putting her season total at 12.
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For the second year in a row, the women’s rugby team toppled the York Lions in the OUA quarterfinals to win 53-15.

Head coach Beth Barz said the Gaels improved on their 41-7 win against the Lions earlier in the year. 

“There was a lot more flow to the game today,” Barz said. “A little of that has to do with how the referee managed things, which is great.”

The Gaels asserted their dominance from early on within the match. Emma Chown kept up her strong run, scoring her twelfth try of the season within minutes of the start of the game.

To keep the pressure on the Lions, centre Lauren Cranfield darted her way through the defence and into the end zone, adding five points of her own. Following a conversion by Lauren McEwen, the Gaels were up 12-0 early.

After the ensuing York penalty kick, first-year centre Sophie Stephenson broke out a long run of her own, scoring the Gaels’ third try of the game. During injury time, Cranfield would score her second try of the game, giving the Gaels a dominant 26-3 lead at half.

In what’s become a regular occurrence this year, Emma Chown broke out for a long run, culminating with a try for the Gaels. Following a Lions try, the Gaels broke away from the competition and solidified their win. The team put together a great passing play, with centre Miranda Seifert making the last pass to hooker Pippi McKay to extend the Gaels lead to 38-10.

With the Lions continuing to claw their way back into the game, the Gaels knew needed to have a strong final 20 minutes to hold on for the win. During a ruck, captain McEwen went down injured, and had to be carried off the field by teammates and training staff.

The extent of the injury is unknown, but losing the fifth-year centre and all-time Gaels leading scorer would be a serious blow to the Gaels’ season.

In response, scrum half Lauren Murray, centre Hannah Greenwood and Chown all scored in the final few minutes, sealing the 53-15 win for the Gaels.

Despite being happy with the win, Barz said the team still has room to improve.

“We had some repeat infringements and they were dealt with,” she said. “It was great for our team to recognize that coming offside a million times is not the best way to play defense, but in general it was a different game.”

While most would be nervous after losing a special talent like McEwen to an injury, Barz said her team reacted very well.

“We have worked to make sure that we have four centres in the rotation all the way through,” Barz said. “They all stepped up and did their very best.”

The Gaels scored 22 of their 53 points from the centre position. For Barz, their efforts went beyond the score sheet.

“They created a few scoring opportunities for us. I thought they did a really nice job for us.”

With quarterfinal games ending at the same time, the Gaels are set to face-off against the Guelph Gryphons. These teams met last week, with the Gaels falling 48-7 in their only loss of the season.

Despite the defeat, Barz isn’t looking to change their game plan heading into the match-up.

“We will go back there and play them like we did last week,” she said.

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