Stingers 30, Gee-Gee’s 17: Men’s rugby win their home opener despite slow start
Concordia was tested early on, but managed to secure victory after a dominant second half
After a comfortable 47-9 win in their first game of the 2021 season against École de technologie supérieure (ETS), the Stingers men’s rugby team came out flat on Sunday when they hosted the University of Ottawa Gee-Gee’s. The match was tightly contested with a score of 13-12 in favour of the Stingers at half-time. In the second half, Concordia showed why they are the three-time defending provincial champions in rugby. They dictated the pace of play and as a result, cruised to a 30-17 victory.
“We knew that we were gonna be in for a tough [game],” said first-year head coach John Lavery. The first half was physical, and that is what coach Lavery was preaching leading up to this matchup. “They brought a different level of skill and they are a very well-organized team,” said Lavery.
The turning point of the game came in the 53rd minute, when Gee-Gee’s Graeme Neill-Klein had a questionable tackle on a Stingers player. This mis-hit resulted in a yellow card which put Ottawa in a hole they could not climb out of. Not even a minute later, Concordia’s Stan Blazkowski scored a try to make the score 17-12.
Blazkowski struck again in the 73rd minute with his second try of the match. The France native pushed the score to 23-12 in favour of Concordia. A late try in stoppage time for Luca Milne of the Stingers put the game to bed. After a conversion by Arthur Du Chaffaut, the score was 30-12. The Gee-Gee’s added a late try but it was academic at that point.
There were many strong performances for the Stingers in their commanding victory, but one stood apart from the rest. Mohamed Almoallim was named the game’s most valuable player, which is voted by opposing teams at the end of each match. “I feel pretty good about it,” said Almoallim when asked about being named game MVP. “I had a couple of missed tackles, it was kind of messing with my head, but the workrate was there all game.”
This Stingers squad is relatively new, with only a few returning players from the 2019 roster. Many veterans on the team have taken on leadership roles they did not have in previous years. One of those players is Aidan McMullan. “[It’s just about] Getting to know the guys well, and seeing how they play and who they play with and what their style is,” said McMullan.
The Stingers are definitely the favourite in the RSEQ rugby conference, but it will take some time for them to gel as a unit. Their next game will be on Friday at Coulter Field against Bishop’s University. This will be another test for head coach John Lavery’s team.