The Martlets established an early lead with a try seven minutes into the game by backrow Lauren Minns, but failed their conversion kick, leaving them up just 5-0. McGill’s lead was quickly overturned when the Gaiters took the ball through the Martlet defense, giving them a 7-5 lead after a successful conversion. Despite the Martlets’ strong defense and a try scored by second row Catherine Murphy, the Gaiters made use of two penalty kicks to pick up several points throughout the game. By the midway point of the second half, Bishop’s led the game with a score of 13-10.
However, in the final ten minutes, any fears of prolonging the three-season losing streak were put to rest as the Martlets’ forwards stunned the audience with a series of impressive plays. Minns punctured Bishop’s defense in a breakaway to score McGill’s third try of the game, allowing them to overtake Bishop’s lead. Minutes later, in the final moments of the game, McGill secured their 22-13 victory with another try by Minns and a successful conversion by team captain and fly-half Raurie Moffat.
Minns spoke with The Tribune after the game and noted the resilience of the team in securing the final try through a particularly grueling pick-and-go strategy.
“After the second-to-last try, I knew time was running out, and I also knew how important the lead was for this team and this program,” Minns said. “I think the forwards took control of those last ten minutes because it’s the safest way to keep the ball alive [….] It’s a very tiring style of play but we only had five minutes left, so it’s just pick-and-go after pick-and-go […] up and down the field.”
The game’s thrilling atmosphere was fueled by a vocal crowd of Martlets fans in the stands. A group of McGill varsity rugby alumni and the Redbirds rugby team made the audience particularly boisterous, rallying the crowd with team cheers and chants throughout the match.
Moffat emphasized that this spirited crowd motivated the team, especially as games in the past have seen sparser turnout.
“This was a huge change for me, personally,” Moffat said. “And I’m sure a lot of the other teammates feel like this too—hearing people supporting us in the crowd helped me […] stay in my game and work really hard.”
Head coach Allan Swetman explained that the team’s victory is just one step towards the progress they hope to make throughout the season as they stay focused on overall improvement.
“For me, it’s not really about the results, it’s about how we play and watching every player continue to grow, and that’s kind of the aim for the season,” Swetman said. “So this is just a stepping stone and hopefully everyone on the team will continue to get better.”
Moment of the game
Moffat’s conversion of the team’s final try came at the 80-minute mark. As the ball sailed between the goalposts and the game came to an end, the athletes on the field and McGill fans in the stands erupted into cheers.
“Are we going to win the entire season? Probably not, but this is a stepping stone to show that all the work this team has put in the past years is gonna come to fruition eventually. […] I think we’re only headed in the right direction.”
–– Lauren Minns, on the team’s goals for the season
Minns scored her three tries of the game with 40-yard, 53-yard and a 17-yard runs, respectively, after having to sit out the past two seasons due to injuries.