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Volume 91, Issue 16
Wednesday, September 24, 1997
Men ruggers roll, women tumble
HEY DON'T STEP ON ME, I'M JUST TRYIN' TO GET A TAN. The men's rugby team knows that it can't lie down on the job and have a perfect 3-0 record to show for it.
By John Giusti
Both the men's and women's rugby teams scrummed their brains out on the grass pitches across from J.W. Little Stadium on Saturday. Although both emerged with mental victories, only the men were able to better their regular season record with a 23-8 thrashing of the McMaster Marauders. The women fell short in their bid to move over the .500-mark, losing to Guelph 19-10.
The men's team struggled in Hamilton for the first half, unable to capitalize on numerous chances. The result was an 8-6 Mac lead at half-time break and according to Western head coach Gerry Slattery, it was vital that his team did not lose its composure.
"I was concerned although I didn't panic," he said. "We had been emphasizing our endurance and fitness in practice and we needed to give a full second half."
And give they did, as they kept the Marauders pinned in their own end for the duration of the contest, racking up 17 unanswered points.
Slattery felt that the Mustangs' expansive style of play got the whole team involved offensively and it was what kept McMaster off-guard throughout the second half. Furthermore, he pointed to Western's effective rucking style as a second key to victory.
Coming into the season, the Marauders were ranked second and the Mustangs third. By beating Mac twice this season, the Western rugby program has been given a huge boost of confidence.
The second-half rally was kick-started by Ed Gardner's drop-goal only minutes after play had begun.
"I just wanted to put some points on the board," Gardner said. "We had several chances in the first half to score and we came up empty, so I just wanted to seize the opportunity."
Although the men are off to a flying start, they want to maintain their concentration on each game at hand.
"Even though this is a huge win for us we have to keep our focus and prepare for Laurier," said Mustang Oren Smith, who scored a second-half try said. "We know that any team can win on any day."
Back in London, the women's team faced-off against Guelph, a team which pummeled the Mustangs in both of their matches last year.
"It was a mental thing with Guelph," women's coach Natascha Wesch said. "Our team was in awe of them for the first 15 minutes, then [Guelph] scored a try and we were down right away."
The women attempted to make a game of it, but their comeback-bid fell short. The game was still a confidence builder however, as some of the women played their first game of the season, filling in for three injured starters.
Because of their mediocre 1-2 start, the Mustangs are approaching a must-win scenario. With only four games to play, the team will need to improve their record if they hope to see post-season action.
In response, Western is working on a new defence that they hope to put into action this weekend.
"Dedication, motivation and initiative are our strengths," assistant captain Judy Miller said. "Penalties have been our downfall recently and smart decision-making should remedy that."
Scoring first and early in the game is something else that Western's young team is looking for in order to raise its confidence level.
The women play their next game at York next Saturday, while the men travel to Laurier.
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Copyright © The Gazette 1997