Volume 94, Issue 39
Wednesday, November 8, 2000
"Incredible, absolutely incredible" win for champs
SEE MAN, I TOLD YOU IT'S FIRM. The men's rugby ream got up close and personal this weekend as thy brought home the OUA gold.
By Dave Martin
Down 13-0 at half time of the Ontario University Athletics rugby finals this past Saturday, Western head coach Gerry Slattery had only one thought for his team, "Bury it, close your eyes and take a deep breath."
That is exactly what the Mustangs needed to hear.
Western responded with an inspired effort in the second half, climbing back inch by inch against a powerhouse from Queen's. The Mustangs persevered and were rewarded with a thrilling 20-18 win.
Queen's held a 18-13 lead with mere minutes left in the game. The Mustangs made good on their last charge down the field scoring the winning try and subsequent conversion for the win.
It took a few attempts for Western to finally break though, including three heart-wrenching stops on the one yard line. Following a Queen's penalty the referee signalled the next play would be the final play of the game.
Slattery described Western's plan of attack for their final push. "We chose a scrum-down and [Neil] Kouba went blindside for a great score," he said. The try tied the score and it was up to flyhalf Trevor Thomas to make a less than routine conversion for the win.
Thomas, described by his mates as a cool customer, said he just tried to approach the kick like any other. "I heard the crowd going wild and told myself to free my mind, put my head down, follow through and it just scraped over."
Western centre Matt King, described the team's strategy as they came down the field. King said it was clear it was going to take a team effort to get the result, not just one heroic play.
"We had to do this as a team because we weren't going to do it by show-boating with individuals over-stretching for the try line. Coach always said we need a star team and not a team of stars," King said.
"[It was] the best final I have seen in along time," said Queen's head coach Brad Greenwood. Slattery meanwhile was barely able to contain his excitement. "Incredible, absolutely incredible," he said.
"In all my time here at Western this is the best game I've ever seen the team play," Slattery said. "It was a total team effort and I'm very proud of them."
With two bleachers brimming with Queen's supporters, the Golden Gaels definitely had a home field advantage. Slattery said the atmosphere made playing in Kingston a real challenge for his team.
"There were probably over 1,000 people here today with everyone fully behind their team. It's difficult to play in those conditions. I take my coach's hat off to our team for handling the pressure all respect due to them," he said.
The championship win extends the Mustang's two year unbeaten streak, one that has lasted since Guelph defeated Western in the 1998 OUA championship.
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