Volume 94, Issue 34
Tuesday, October 31, 2000
Rugby Stangs march on to finals
By Dave Martin
The Western men's rugby team started their playoff drive Saturday afternoon facing the undefeated Guelph Gryphons, setting the stage for a tight battle on the path towards the Ontario University Athletics Championships.
The game lived up to its expectations with Western battling to an impressive 31-13 victory, to advance to the provincial finals next weekend. Head coach Gerry Slattery said he was excited about his team's victory.
"Obviously we're very pleased to be back in an OUA finals for the fourth year in a row. It's great for the team as they've been working hard for the last two weeks. They really want this and are determined to get their reward," he said.
Western opened the scoring after 10 minutes of play with a strong drive ending in a try that was promptly followed by a major momentum boost for Western on the ensuing Guelph drive.
With the ball deep in Mustang territory, Western fullback Rob Wolfendon, energized the crowd by sweeping around the corner and with amazing burst of speed, flying down the field to score another Western try.
"It was off a turnover and with the ball right by our goal-line, my first instinct was to kick it out of bounds. The defence came up at me staggered and one of them fell, which just opened up a hole on the left side," Wolfendon said.
Guelph head coach, Gary Whitley, said he was pleased with his team's effort, but felt they did not capitalize on their chances. "We had many opportunities throughout the entire game, but just lost ball-in-contact and couldn't consistently punch it in. Western's defence was strong and they have many good players who had a huge impact on the game. [Rob] Wolfendon and [Matt] King played tremendous games" Whitley said.
King, Western's inside center, said he felt it was teamwork rather than individual play that led to the win. "We've realized that we were not going to win with anyone trying to grandstand out there, it has to come through working as a team. Everyone is coming together right now and we're definitely peaking at the right time," he said.
Not everything went smoothly for Western the Mustangs were down men during the end of the first half and beginning of the second half, due to three penalty infractions.
Assistant coach, Alan Kouba, said he was concerned with this re-occurring theme. "I think we have a habit of giving away too many penalties which keeps the other team in the game," he said.
Although Western was able to bear down while shorthanded and score two trys, King said he knows the Mustangs can not win like that in the finals.
"Next week yellow-cards will be a big problem for us against Queen's. They're really going to hurt us if we have a couple guys in the sin-bin for 10 minutes."
The Mustangs travel to Kingston next weekend to battle it out with the Golden Gaels for the provincial championships.
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