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Volume 91, Issue 33
Tuesday, October 28, 1997
Ruggers clear road to finals
LUCKY I BATHED IN VASELINE BEFORE THE GAME. Mustang rugger Rob Wernstine gets set to break through two Guelph defenders who had a tough time all game taking down the slippery OUA final-bound Mustangs.
By John Giusti
The Western men's rugby team went into their semi-final match-up on Saturday with a perfect 7-0 record and with a 27-7 victory over Guelph, they didn't disappoint the hometown fans, advancing to the OUA final for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century.
The Mustangs wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard and controlled most of the play in the first half. Early in the game, Ed Gardner capped a strong drive by reaching the end-zone, putting Western up 5-0, followed by a try from Luke Wrightmyer which extended the Mustang lead to 10-0. Western stretched the lead to 13 before the Gryphons broke through with their first try, narrowing the lead to six at the half.
"It was still anybody's game at the half," fly-half Ed Gardner said. "We knew we had to come out and erase the mental lapse we experienced in the last 15 minutes of the first half."
The Mustangs took control in the second half keeping the Gryphons backed-up in their own end for the duration of the contest while Chris Foster's two trys provided some insurance.
"We had some great tackling out there," Mustang forward Greg Doria said. "We kept them at least 90 per cent of the time on defence which gave us a huge advantage."
The Mustangs repeatedly pushed the Gryphons' drives off to the sidelines in an attempt to shut them down and open up the field for some of Western's quicker players.
"When you play an expansive style of game, you keep your opponents in check and get your points in the corners," Slattery said.
The Gryphons' players could find no excuses for their loss and seemed to accept the fact they were beaten by a superior team.
"It was a tough game, they beat us, that's all," said Gryphons' wing Dave Brewin.
Mustang Dave Denoble commented on the importance of this game in comparison to other big games this year.
"There's no question today was our most important game of the season, we could have always come back had we lost to Queen's, but a loss today and it's all over the 7-0 record, last spring's trip to Ireland, everything, down the drain."
After three consecutive semi-final losses over the past three years, the Mustangs will get their first shot at the OUA championship since they won in 1977.
The championship tilt will match the Mustangs against last year's winners, the Queen's Golden Gaels at 1 p.m. next Saturday. The game will be played here at Western and coach Gerry Slattery is pleased about the opportunity to host the final.
"It's a huge boost to us to have the game here," said Slattery, who was excited about reaching the finals. "There won't be any long trips to Queen's that many teams have taken in the past and ended up losing. There won't be any mental burden, no stay in a hotel; our players know their field and can stick to their routine next week at game time."
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