November 4, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 36  

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Mac attack awaits Stewart and the men's ruggers

By David Martin
Gazette Staff

Dave Picard/Gazette
I GUESS THIS IS WHAT THEY MEANT BY “TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM.” A Queen’s rugby player tackles a Mustangs winger from behind during Saturday’s Ontario University Athletics semi-final at the Mustangs’ rugby pitch.

Dispersing of one old foe only leads to another for the Western men's rugby team.

Saturday afternoon, the Mustangs eliminated the Queen's Golden Gaels 23-7 to move onto the Ontario University Athletics finals. Now comes a tougher test for the Mustangs from the team that defeated them in last year's final - McMaster University.

For the past decade, Western and Queen's have been bitter rivals, combining to win eight of the last 10 OUA titles. Saturday afternoon in London, intensity and tempers rose once again in what was a much closer game than the scoreboard indicated.

Queen's held a 7-3 lead for most of the first half, but after a prolonged drive near the Queen's goal-line, Western's Dean Van Camp was finally able to charge through the Golden Gael's wall to score on the final play of the half.

Although Western took a 10-7 lead into half-time, head coach Scott Stewart made a couple of adjustments in an attempt to put more pressure on Queen's in the second half.

"We wanted to get the ball deep into their territory whenever we had the chance and then force them to make quick decisions," Stewart said. "The speed of our backs was able to put pressure on them, causing mistakes which we could take advantage of. It was a bit of a risk, but we got the returns we wanted." Fourth-year Western lock Jordan Martens cited another adjustment the team made at half-time.

"We got an understanding that they were focusing on one of our players, so we tried getting the ball to other people and through unselfish play, we were able to find the open man a lot," Martens said.

Even with these changes, possibly the most important factor helping Western to victory was their ability to remain calm in what was quite a dirty game. Early in the second half, a Queen's player was given a red-card (ejected), which drew no retaliation from Western? side.

Later on, a scuffle broke out after a Queen's player took an extended run at a Western player, resulting in another red-card for Queen's and only a yellow-card (10 minute penalty) for Western.

Queen's head coach Herb Steacy thought the composure of the two teams was a major difference in the game.

"Western showed a discipline that we lacked at times. A couple decisions we made hurt us as it's difficult to win games when you're short players, especially against a good team like Western," Steacy said.

Western forward Les Selby commented on the Mustangs ability to stay calm throughout the game.

"We never let anything get us down and were always able to bury the negatives each time they happened. We kept our composure and waited until things went our way," Selby said.

Selby, who had two trys, combined with Andrew Dold (convert, drop-goal, penalty-goal) to provide the rest of the Mustang's offense.

When asked to name his top performers of the game, Stewart listed off six players, a number which demonstrates how much of a total team effort it took to beat Queen's.

Up next for the Mustangs is McMaster, who they narrowly lost to earlier in the year. Both Dold and Martens expressed the team's confidence heading into the finals.

"The tables are turned from last year when we beat McMaster in the regular season and lost to them in the finals. Although we lost earlier this season, we know that we have what it takes to beat them next week," Dold said. "We haven't played at 100 per cent yet this year, but after winning [Saturday], that higher level is definitely within reach." Marten's also commented on the team's progress.

"We're peaking at exactly the right time. We're just taken a big step up from our last game and know we can improve slightly for the next game. Plus we've got an advantage of just having played a hard-fought game which will keep us sharp, whereas McMaster had an easier opponent this week."




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