CIS Women's Rugby Championship quarterfinal recaps

McMaster, Ottawa, Concordia victorious in CIS quarterfinals

Simone Savary runs the ball for the Gee-Gee’s.
Simone Savary runs the ball for the Gee-Gee’s.
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Angela Thompson’s (#20) stiff-arm wasn’t enough for the Victoria Vikes to advance.
Angela Thompson’s (#20) stiff-arm wasn’t enough for the Victoria Vikes to advance.
Britni French (#13) looks to avoid a trio of Pronghorns.
Britni French (#13) looks to avoid a trio of Pronghorns.
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Ottawa 29, St. FX 7

The Ottawa Gee-Gees exploded for 22 unanswered points in the second half of their 29-7 victory over the St. Francis Xavier X-Women.

After Ashley Strike scored the game’s opening try for the Gee-Gees, June Beals responded with her own for the 

X-Women, completed with a conversion by Sabrina McDaid. But down 7-5 at halftime, the Gee-Gees came on strong in the game’s final frame, dominating the Maritime side.

 “Our fitness is really good,” Ottawa head coach Jennifer Boyd said. “We’re a second half team, and it showed today.”

Chanelle Fortin scored one of the four second half tries for the Gee-Gees, after coming on as a substitution, much to the delight of her coach. 

“She was just a real energy [for the team],” Boyd said. 

While Boyd knows there will be a tough test ahead in their semifinal contest against McMaster, she said it’s important to live in the moment. 

“We’re going to recover now and enjoy the win,” she said.

Ottawa prop Simone Savary was named player of the game for her efforts. A CIS All-Star, she scored a try and was a dominant force on the field for the entire game.

“We turned the pace up,” Savary said of the team’s second half play. “We wanted to play a high tempo game from the beginning. That wasn’t happening in the first half but we really turned that around.”

Tries were also scored by Jessica Foran and Irene Patrinos, who added a pair of conversions.

On Saturday’s semi-final, Savary said it’s key to stick to the team’s roots.

“We’re going to stick to our game plan,” she said. “If we play to our potential, that’s our biggest thing.”

McMaster 62, Lethbridge 14 

fter winning CIS player of the year the night prior, Cindy Nelles scored two tries for the McMaster Marauders in their 62-14 rout of the Lethbridge Pronghorns.

The OUA champions established their dominance early. Within 13 minutes of the game starting, the Marauders were already up 19-0 with scores from Stephanie Black, Selena Seguin and Ashley Gordon.

McMaster would continue to apply pressure on the Pronghorns until halftime. Capitalizing on turnovers allowed the Marauders to run up the score, going up 38-0 at the break.

In the second half, McMaster used all of their substitutes to keep their players fresh. Nelles believes this will be key to limit fatigue for the upcoming games.

“Rugby is a high impact game, putting a lot of strain on your body,” Nelles said. “The ability to get 35 minutes off is going to be huge in terms of recovery.”

Carrying an eight-game winning streak into the semi-final, Nelles said that team is high on morale.

“Rugby is all about peaking at the right time,” Nelles said. “We have definitely come together and have become stronger as a team as our season has progressed.”

When all was said and done, McMaster was the victor, winning 62-14.

For head coach Shaun Allen, the pace of play dictated the game’s result.

“When we got the ball quickly in and out of rucks we were able to use the space that was available to us and move the ball and attack,” Allen said.

Overall, nine players found the score sheet for the Marauders. 

“Our front row did a really good job today,” Allen said. “They carried well, they scrummed pretty well, our line out was outstanding, throwing was accurate.”

“We had solid platforms to attack off of. When we get that, we are going to be a difficult team to beat because we get going forward pretty quickly.”

In a tournament with three games over four days, Allen knows from previous years’ experience that substitutions can decide between who emerges as champion on Sunday.

“Last year, we weren’t able to do it as much,” Allen said. “We were in some really tight games, we needed some of those players to play heavy minutes and three games in four days is going to be difficult.”

Since losing to Queen’s in their first game of the season 15-14, Allen finds his team is a whole different squad. “The development over the last couple of months has been massive,” he said. 

Allen knows they’ll be in for a challenge on Saturday against Ottawa, as the Marauders prevailed 17-12 in last year’s national semifinal. “We know we are in for a battle,” he said.

Concordia 34, Victoria 12

On the back of a pair of tries from All-Canadian Frederique Rajotte, the Concordia Stingers advanced to Saturday’s semi-final with a 34-12 win over the Victoria Vikes.

Concordia scored the game’s first 19 points and controlled action for much of the contest.

Concordia head coach Graeme McGravie praised the play of his team’s forwards. “They started to dominate, and get a little more confident in the scrum. We sort of found our rhythm,” he said.

McGravie also praised the defensive play of his lock,Jasmine Akkermans. 

A key turning point in the game came when Victoria’s first try of 

the game was answered immediately by Rajotte with a try of her own. 

“We found our fire back right after they scored, and seemed to be okay after that,” McGravie said. Lianne Bragg and Alex Tessier also added tries for the Stingers.

Despite the possibility of playing three games in four days, McGravie isn’t worried about the short time between matches. “This is an awesome event,” he said. “Every female rugby athlete wants to be here. We’re just going to take it one day at a time.”

Ahead of Saturday’s match-up, McGravie said the team will watch film to work on the team’s errors and scout their next opponent.

“We’re going to fix some things,” he said.  “And we’re going to concentrate on going forward.”   

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