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Martlets falter in first loss of the season

The No. 7 ranked McGill Martlets played the No. 4 ranked Concordia Stingers in the annual Drummond Cup this past week. The match is named after the late Kelly-Anne Drummond, a former Concordia rugby player who lost her life in an incident of domestic violence in 2004. The contest now serves as a fundraiser for WomenAWARE, a local group that serves to support victims of domestic violence. This year a total of $1,824 was raised in donations for the cause at the match.

The heavyweight matchup between the two top 10 squads lived up to its lofty billing with a tight score of 17-15 that was only decided deep into the second half.

Throughout the game, two separate units dominated the course of play. For Concordia, the game plan centered on their physically imposing group of forwards. The Stingers’ pack was dominant in their rucking game, enabling them to control the ball for long periods of play while wearing out their opponents. Off of penalties, the visitors were also able to use superior technique and power to control scrums, winning nearly every contest.

Concordia fly-half Dara Brunnete was the only back who gave the Martlets trouble. However, she was able to command the game and had multiple runs where she broke through the line and sparked the offence.

McGill responded with its talented and quick group of backs who spread the ball wide and were able to take advantage of their speed routinely. Despite this, it was clear that the visitors had the upper hand as the game wore on. The game’s winning try came off of a maul in which the two forward packs went head to head with Concordia’s pushing back their opponents for 10 yards before the ball touched the ground.

“It was our first real test of the season, and I’m glad we had it at this point,” Stephens said. “I feel as though we will be able to use this game as a real learning point and learn from our errors and improve.”

Star fly-half Brianna Miller effortlessly controlled the flow of the game once again as she led the McGill scoring effort with 10 points. Audrey Marcotte, a sophomore prop, also scored a try.

Both squads used their kicking games in order to control field possession as real estate was hard to come by. The most impressive instance of footwork occured on Miller’s try. Miller was faced with multiple tacklers after she broke through. Rather than attempt to break the tackles, she placed a perfect diagonal kick over the heads of the oblivious Concordia backs before retrieving her own kick and taking it all the way to the try line. To top it off, Miller connected on a very difficult conversion to tie the score at 12-12.

(Luke Orlando / McGill Tribune)
(Luke Orlando / McGill Tribune)

The waning moments of the game provided excitement that left fans sitting at the edge of their seats. McGill elected to kick for a penalty goal rather than attempt to go for a try with the score at 17-12. After Miller’s attempt sailed through the uprights, the match turned into a back and forth affair where the Martlets marched deep into Concordia territory multiple times. Sophomore fullback Deanna Foster had a game-saving tackle in the last minute that denied the visitors a chance to extend their lead. However, Foster was unable to follow up as her knock-on penalty iced the game indefinitely for the hosts.

Stephens stressed the importance of rest following the game.

“The game against Carleton will test our depth and our stamina. We have to make sure to rest up […][because] it will be our third game in seven days.”

The Martlets recovered and bounced back in dominant fashion on Saturday as they shut out the visiting Carleton Ravens 41-0. Foster was named MVP of the game and was one of four Martlets to score a try.

McGill now looks to continue its bid to sit atop the RSEQ leaderboard as they host Bishop’s on Sunday Sept. 29 at 1:00 p.m. on McGill’s Macdonald campus.

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