Men’s Rugby Snaps McGill’s Winning Streak
A solid Concordia defence stopped the McGill Redmen from adding to their 15-game winning streak on Sunday at Molson Stadium, allowing the Stingers to secure a 17-10 win.
ConU secured a playoff berth with the win.
“What is key here is that these boys have it in their heads that they can beat McGill,” said Concordia coach Clive Gibson, whose team is now 4-1 and snapped a Redmen winning streak that dated back to October, 2008.
The struggle for the win consisted of a slow start in the first half. Concordia focused on stopping the quick passing and slippery runners of McGill, yet failed to capitalize on offensive opportunities.
Still, eighth man David Biddle was in his element. By releasing from the dominant Concordia scrum early, Biddle was able to hunt down Redmen wingers and even sack the scrum-half.
The first half proved to be frustrating for McGill, as runners stopped just metres from the Concordia try-line.
“The boys played extremely well on defence—probably the best I’ve seen them play this season,” said Gibson. “Scrummaging was solid, absolutely dominant. We were down a man for 10 minutes and they [the Redmen] still couldn’t break our defence.”
In the second half, McGill came back with an intimidating vigor. Although Stinger Sebastien Ebanks initially halted an exceptional push by the Redmen, McGill’s Roderick Mackenzie immediately scored a try and Gideon Balloch hit the conversion. Balloch would later notch a penalty kick to put the Redmen up 10-0.
Concordia responded by rucking to within 20 metres of the try zone. Biddle picked and plowed, making way for a pass off to fly-half Xavier Birot, who ran in the score to put Concordia on the board.
“We were a unit,” Birot said. “We had an amazing run, and all I had to do was run the ball in. We had a bad start in the second half. I was kicking the ball to gain momentum because we were mostly relying on defence.”
Soon after, the Redmen were caught off guard by a penalty near their try zone. A quick touch-and-go play by the Stingers sent Curtis McKinney through the ranks to score Concordia’s second try, this time with a successful conversion.
“I haven’t been here very long but I can see the heated rivalry, and can see where it comes from,” said Biddle. “I got in a few scuffles with some guys but you’ve got to protect your boys.”
Another Concordia push with immaculate rucks allowed Guillaume Lainé to put Concordia even further ahead to 17-10.
However, victory was far from sure, as in the remaining minutes McGill was literally on the Concordia try-line attempting to tie the game. But the Redmen were held up and pushed back by the Concordia defence as the final whistle blew.
“Mistakes were made on both sides; unfortunately we didn’t come out on top,” said McGill coach Craig Beemer, who would not comment on what was going on in the scrums. “Honestly, I don’t know and I really don’t want to comment. We’re predominantly the better team, but I can’t say that right now.”
The Stingers will travel to Lennoxville to face the Bishop’s Gaiters in their final game of the regular season on Friday, Oct. 29.
This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 11, published October 26, 2010.
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