Women’s rugby comes up short against Guelph

Gaels unable to cash in on major comeback in second half, lose 39-34

Women’s rugby fell to Guelph in last year’s OUA championships.
Women’s rugby fell to Guelph in last year’s OUA championships.
Journal File Photo

History repeated for women’s rugby this past Saturday.

In a rematch from last season’s OUA finals, Queen’s fell to the Guelph Gryphons 39-34 at home after failing to capitalize on a late second half comeback. 

The Gaels were down 29-5 by the turn of the first half, but subsequently salvaged an otherwise blowout loss by reeling in 29 points while conceding just 15 points in the second half.

Head coach Dan Valley acknowledged while the first half of the game fell below his expectations, his team still was able to tighten up their play and give Guelph a run for their money.

“We were continually getting deep into their end and accumulating a lot of [strong] phases, and then we would just stop fighting for one particular phase,” Valley said of the Gaels’ consistency.

After halftime, the Gaels were able to come back more aggressively, he added.

“We started to not express ourselves, but have a little more fun and be a little more cautious with the ball in hand. We were able to let it rip on the edge a couple of times, and [go on] that counterattack that has been very lethal for us all season.”

Notably, second-year winger Rachel Hickson scored a career-high of four tries in the second half.

For the game’s fourth try, Hickson raced just short of the length of the field to score. Sophie de Goede scored the final try of the game and pulled home one short of tying to match.

According to fourth year Kara Gani, the team rallied together and collectively decided it was a new game after halftime.

“We talked about how to win the half, no matter what had happened in the first half,” Gani said, adding in the first half the team lacked intensity.

“Our tackles weren’t low, we were slow off of the defensive line. We had the right structure in place, but I don’t think we were executing to the best of our ability.”

Once the Gaels got the ball rolling, they were able to push for more points—which Gani found to be the team’s biggest takeaway moving forward. 

“Going into the next games and into playoffs, [the focus is] making sure that we’re ready to go right at the beginning and not having to get that warmup in the first half, because that’s what killed us,” she said.

Last weekend, the Gaels triumphed over Western 68-10 in their first regular season game. The nationally-ranked fourth Mustangs currently sits at 1-1 through two matches, and they head to nationally-ranked sixth McMaster next weekend.

For Valley, his focus is improving and preparing for the next time they meet Guelph—which could very well come in the OUA finals.

“[We’re figuring out] how we can make up that five-point differential, and there are a lot of really straightforward ways that we can go to work and have some simple fixes,” Valley said.

“It’s about continuing to look at us and improving in areas where we’re a little bit less consistent now.”

With three weeks until the playoffs—and the stakes getting higher—Valley has but one goal for the rest of the season: “making it happen.”

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