Team gels in first win

Blackwood injury not a factor

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Western women's rugby tackling Brock player

Jonas Hrebeniuk

THERE'S PAIN, AND THEN THERE'S MUSTANG PAIN. Western simply laid the smack down on Brock on Wednesday. The squad looks to regain championship form this season.

In a sport constantly evolving in the Ontario collegiate circuit, the Western women’s rugby team continues to set the bar high, highlighted by a focused and convincing 57"0 drubbing of the Brock Badgers.

Mike Hopper, assistant coach for the Mustangs, noted the level of play in Canadian collegiate rugby is getting better with each passing year.

“We realized how good the rugby has become across the country, and a lot of teams have improved,” Hopper said.

Noting the difference in the level of play at last year’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport rugby nationals, the team had to readjust their approach this season and focus on fundamental rugby skills. That mindset was quickly translated on the pitch this past Wednesday.

On the strength of good passes to the outside and steady drives through the middle, Western notched their first tries within a span of 15 minutes, setting the tone for the rest of the first half.

Veterans Kelly Russell, Lauren McDonald, and LaToya Blackwood chewed up the Brock defenders as the ’Stangs continually found themselves inside Brock’s red zone.

On the other side of the ball, Western looked dominant as ever, disrupting passing lanes, and showing their opponents how to properly execute a dump tackle when given the opportunity.

By halftime, Western had a commanding 36"0 lead and looked determined to put away their opponents.

Outside centre Blackwood was taken out with a suspected ankle injury and did not play for the rest of the game. Coach Hopper challenged his players to move past the adversity, a hard-learned lesson from rugby nationals last year.

Even with a concerted effort from the Badgers’ defensive front, Western still notched more tries late in the game.

The Mustangs got contributions from wingers Joannah Clift, Tanja Ness, and eight man Kelly Russell " who recorded two huge tackles during the course of the game.

After the match, Badgers head coach Paul Robinson was proud of the way his squad played.

“I wanted to see how the team played together, I was pleased by the way the team gelled on the pitch,” Robinson said.

Mustangs player Melissa Baer noted this is a good sign of things to come.

“I’d say we played very well, considering we’re trying to implement a new system of play for the year. There are areas we can improve, but that’s a great spot to be at this point in the season,” Baer said.

The Mustangs will host the Laurier Golden Hawks this coming Sunday at 1 p.m.

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