Ruggers come up just short against
By Aron Yeomanson
It matters not whether you win or lose in sports, but whether
or not you're able to beat the best when it counts. This seemed
to be the mind-set of Western's men's rugby squad after suffering
a narrow loss to the 2002 Ontario University Athletics champion
McMaster Marauders on Thursday.
Despite a strong effort, the Mustangs record dropped to 4-1
as they fell by a score of 34-27 to the more experienced group
from Mac. More important than the loss, however, was Western's
obvious ability to compete with the team that won it all just
one year ago.
"[The Mustangs] are the best team we've seen so far [this
season]," said Marauders head coach Phil White. "It
was a close match -either side could have won." Trailing
15-6 at the half, the Mustangs came out on fire, racking up
21 points in under 15 minutes to lead by a 27-22 margin. The
high-scoring stretch featured a try from Matt Mclure, as well
as the seemingly unstoppable speed and determination of Rob
Woolfenden, who exploded for two brilliant tries. Andrew Dold
made good on the conversions.
The offensive eruption was, from the Mustangs point of view,
marred only by the resilience and poise executed by the defending
champs from McMaster. The Marauders kept the match close by
answering with an early try of their own, dampening the effect
of Western's offensive onslaught.
They proceeded to score two more tries late in the half to
erase a small deficit and ultimately improve their record to
a perfect 4-0. With the victory, the Marauders overtook Western
for the top spot in the division standings.
Despite losing the match and first place in the division,
the Mustangs were not disappointed with the loss. "Overall,
we're happy with our performance," Woolfenden said. "We
had the advantage several times and really made them work to
score. We know we can play with them." It's this knowledge
that makes the Mustangs a better team heading into the playoffs.
They gained invaluable confidence and experience in knowing
they were able to execute their game plan against the strong
team from McMaster.
"Anytime you have a chance to win against a team as good
as Mac, you know you played well," said Mustangs' head
coach Scott Stewart. "In general, we did what we were
trying to do. We weren't as sure as them in terms of experience,
but we feel we were able to improve in that regard today." Aside
from the issue of experience, Western was hampered by injury
as many key players were hurt. Dold, who played in spite of
separating his shoulder just five days earlier, said his "banged-up" Mustangs
were going to use the long weekend to get healthy.
Getting healthy will be key -with only one regular season
game remaining, the playoffs loom in the near future. The Mustangs
have shown themselves to be gritty, skilled and hungry this
season and it's clear a healthy squad should be able to make
a serious run at the OUA title. They certainly competed well
against Mac, the team to beat in the eyes of many.