Men’s rugby looking for fifth consecutive OUA title

Gaels win 28-24 in a come-back victory against arch-rival Western to advance to OUA championships

The men’s rugby team beat the Western Mustangs last Saturday to move on to the OUA Championships.
The men’s rugby team beat the Western Mustangs last Saturday to move on to the OUA Championships.

With ten seconds to go in their semi final game against the Western Mustangs last weekend, the hopes for a men’s rugby “Drive For Five” — five consecutive OUA titles — looked like it was coming to an end. 

With the ball just outside the Western try line, Queen’s pushed with all their might to overcome a 24-21 deficit, gaining mere inches on their opponents with each attempt to keep their season alive. After multiple attempts thwarted, scrum-half Dylan Young picked up the ball, faked left and dropped down to his right, pushing the ball just far enough past the try line to give his team a 26-24 lead — adding a successful conversation to make it 28-24 — in the final moments of the match. 

With the home crowd letting out cheers of excitement, the win advances the Gaels to the OUA championships against the undefeated Guelph Gryphons, who will be looking for redemption on their home field after dropping the past two championships to the Gaels.

But the Gaels matchup against Western was far from easy — compared to their 37-8 win against them in semi-finals last year. The Mustangs came out looking for revenge and having tied their match earlier this season 11-11, this match-up was all the more intensegoing into it.

Western opened the match with a converted penalty kick from around the half way line to give them an early 3-0 lead. Queen’s answered quickly, taking advantage of penalties against Western to score a try, and convert on the extra point to put them up 8-3. A few minutes later, Queen’s added three more points by way of a penalty kick, extending the lead to 11-3. 

Before half time the Mustangs closed the scoring gap on the Gaels, with a try and an extra point to make the game 11-10. 

Soon after the second half started, the Mustangs regained the lead with a long run leading to a try and a made conversion, putting them ahead 17-11. In typical fashion for such a back-and-forth game like this, the Gaels returned with a try from Kanoia Lloyd to put them within one point. 

Just as the Gaels were starting to gain momentum on the offensive end, Western scored a try on a Queen’s turn over to give them a wide 24-16 lead midway through the second half. 

Matthew Geisler was able to put Queen’s within striking distance of the victory with his late try in the dying moments of the game. With time running out, and the score at 24-21 in favour of the Mustangs, the Gaels completed the come-from-behind victory in a fairy tale fashion. 

When asked about how the Gaels were able to keep composed in the final minutes of the game, Brendan Blaikie, a veteran hooker for the Gaels squad, kept his answer short and sweet. 

“Strength, and fortitude, and perseverance. That’s all it is,” he said.

With the Gaels set to take on the Guelph Gryphons this weekend, the teams’ history against each other can’t be ignored. In their match up earlier this season Queen’s lost 18-12, which might be a cause for concern for some Gaels fans. However, prior to their 24-23 victory against the Gryphons in last years OUA championship match, when the two teams met during the regular season the Gaels dropped the game 35-28.

Third-year player Alex Colborne said that while the team dropped their game against Guelph earlier this season, they’re poised to come away victorious.

“We didn’t lose by much against them earlier and we are in the exact same position as last year,” he said.

To come out victorious, Colborne knows it will be a game of few opportunities.

“We need to be efficient and take our chances because we’re not going to get many,” he said. 

And while a dynasty might be on the line, Colborne knows his team is ready.

“Just focused on the process and the result, the ‘Drive for Five’ is just motivation.”

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