The women’s rugby team capped off an undefeated regular season Saturday with a commanding 59-10 win over the McMaster Marauders.
The victory brought the Gaels to a 4-0 record this season and slotted them a first-place finish in the OUA Shiels Division.
In the opening minutes of the game, Queen’s was forced to play stout defense as McMaster made an offensive push deep into Gael’s territory.
But McMaster was unable to capitalize as they held the Gaels at their try line—Queen’s quickly flipped the script when they recovered the ball. A clean line break from Chloe Daniels sent her soaring down the length of the field to score the first try of the game.
Sophie de Goede scored the conversion, and the Gaels were up 7-0 from the get-go.
Moments later, Daniels scored another off a scrum at the McMaster try line. De Goede split the uprights again to score her second of 5 straight conversions for the game.
After tries from Carmen Izyk, Bridget Peros, and Sophie de Goede, the Gaels rounded out the first half 35-0.
The Queen’s offense continued to hum at the start of the second half. Following a scrum in McMaster’s end, the Gaels made a series of quick clinical passes, resulting in a try from centre/fullback Hannah Daniels.
Soon after, McMaster found their momentum and bulldozed their way over the Queen’s line to make it 40-5. The two teams continued to battle near the center line as scoring quieted on both sides for a spell.
“I think we had a bit of a lull in the middle there,” head coach Dan Valley told The Journal in an interview after the game.
As the first half drew to a close, Queen’s scored another try, and moments later, McMaster answered with one of their own—but a comeback was out of reach by that point.
The game ended on a triumphant note with a last-minute try by Gael’s back row Grace Anderson.
Valley said he was pleased with how his team played, especially during their peak defensive moments.
“Overall [I’m] really happy. It’s a very good result against a top ten ranked team in the country, so we have to be feeling very good about the way that we attacked [and] the way that we defended,” he said.
“We showed some real grit especially early on in the game close to our try line, when they had us under some pressure.”
Valley says there’s still some tightening up to be done ahead of the playoffs and the U Sports National Championship—which Queen’s has an automatic bye for as the host of the tournament.
“I think when we made it our intention to be super physical at the point of contact, as the ball carrier, and as our support players, that set the table for everything else to happen off of that,” he explained.
“When we were a little more passive in one of those areas, we just gave the defense a little too long to get organized and [that] put us under some pressure.”
Finishing the season undefeated speaks to the Gaels’ on-pitch prowess, but Valley hopes to nonetheless keep building and sharpening their play heading into the post-season.
“Any of the things that we wanted coming in and didn’t quite hit them on the head, we’ll just keep working.”
The Gaels return to Nixon Field, Saturday, Oct. 30, for the first round of the OUA playoffs.
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