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Volume 91, Issue 23

Tuesday, October 7, 1997

frosh and go


Ruggers show why they're tops

©Geoff Robins/Gazette
REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE. Western's rugby opposition are desperate to grab whatever they can get a hold of to slow down the first-place Mustangs.

By John Giusti

Gazette Staff

On Homecoming weekend, when home teams can either rise to the occasion or fall flat on their faces, the Mustang rugby team put together a strong effort against the Queen's Golden Gaels – winning 20-14, erasing all doubts of their right to the top provincial ranking.

In the first half, the Mustangs opened the scoring with a try from Adam Murphy to lead 5-0, but the Golden Gaels fought back with two penalty kicks to take a 6-5 lead. From there the see-saw battle produced an 11-9 lead for the Mustangs at the half.

"The referee was calling a lot of penalties in the first half," said Mustang Ed Gardner. "The key for us was not to get frustrated and to focus on the second half."

Once the second half got under way, it was clear the Mustangs had made some half-time adjustments. The home club took advantage of Queens' undisciplined second-half play to score three unanswered penalty kicks and go up 20-9. Although a late surge got the Golden Gaels within six, the Mustangs were able to stop defence by stonewalling their opponents right up to the final whistle.

"All the hype about Queen's went to our heads in the first half," fly half Simon Rogers, who scored 15 of the Mustangs points, said. "Once we realized we were the better team physically and tactically, we were able to take it to them for the rest of the game."

Several Queen's players became frustrated late in the game and unsuccessfully attempted to catch Western on some retaliatory penalties.

"The ref caught most of the cheap shots," remarked Rogers. "It's easy for us to take a few punches in the face in exchange for points."

Al Ferguson, the Golden Gaels coach was quite disappointed with his team's undisciplined play.

"We were trying to create opportunities out of nothing," Ferguson said. "We have to practice keeping it simple and being more patient."

Coach Slattery was ecstatic about the victory citing his team's mental toughness as the key to victory.

"It's great to have finally beaten Queen's," he said. "We could have have played better but this was more of a mental win than a physical one."

Saturday's victory leaves Western alone atop the Ontario University Athletics' standings with a perfect 5-0 record, with only two games remaining.

"Getting a home playoff game is a must for our team, so we can't afford to slack off now," Slattery said. "We can easily lose control of the season if we don't stay focused since everyone will be gunning for us."

Unfortunately, the Mustangs will have to do without one of their most valuable players, Simon Rogers, who has been invited to play for Canada's under-19 national team.

Slattery, as pleased as he is about Saturday's win, is still going to drive his team right through to the end.

"We emphasize intensity in practice, our motto has always been that we're paid to practice and Saturday was pay-day."

Western's next game is this Thursday against Laurier at 3 p.m. on the rugby pitch.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997