Michel Belanger

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. (CIS) – The Guelph Gryphons qualified for the fourth CIS women’s rugby final in team history with a dominating 38-3 win over the Laval Rouge et Or in their round-robin finale, Saturday afternoon, at Trent University’s Justin Chiu Stadium.

The Gryphons, who outscored McMaster 53-19 in their first outing of the national tournament on Friday, finish the preliminary round atop the pool B standings with a 2-0 record. In Sunday’s gold-medal match Sunday at 2 p.m., they will face defending champion St. Francis Xavier, who secured its spot in the championship game earlier Saturday with a 20-5 defeat of Lethbridge.

After claiming the inaugural Monilex trophy back in 1998 with a 15-10 triumph over McMaster, the Gryphons returned to the CIS final twice, losing 20-3 to Alberta in 1999 and 10-5 to StFX in 2006. Guelph has also racked up five CIS bronze medals over the years, including third-place finishes each of the past four seasons.

Laval (1-1) will play for CIS bronze for the second time in program history Sunday at noon against Lethbridge (1-1). The Rouge et Or lost the third-place match to Guelph back in 2008.

Sunday’s schedule also includes a battle for fifth position between McMaster (0-2) and Trent (0-2) at 10 a.m.

Jacey Murphy, the two-time CIS player of the year who was seeing her first action of the tourney, and Britt Benn paced the OUA champion Gryphons against Laval with two tries apiece. Samantha Eyles and Morganne Linthwaite also crossed the try line, Stephanie Tibelius added four converts.

Claudiane Renaud of Trois-Rivières, Que., scored an early penalty goal for RSEQ champion Laval.

Benn opened the scoring just three minutes in. The fourth-year back from Napanee, Ont., used a head of steam and a menacing stiff arm to score the unconverted try.

Laval responded five minutes later on Renaud’s 38-metre penalty goal to make it 5-3.

It was all Guelph after that point.

At the 11-minute mark, Murphy, a fifth-year number 8 from Alliston, Ont., stole the ball from a scrum on the Laval five metre line and powered in for the converted try.

Eyles of Goderich, Ont., made it 19-3 six minutes before the halftime break when she took an offload pass from Murphy and scampered 12 metres, nearly untouched, for the converted score.

Back from the break, Murphy added her second converted try of the afternoon five minutes in. Following a penalty, she took a quick tap and rumbled 18 metres for the score, breaking several tackles in the process.

Another long run by Linthwaite of Guelph, Ont., extended the lead to 33-3 in the 44th minute. The fourth-year lock ran 22 metres accelerating past the Laval defence to hit pay dirt.

Benn would add an unconverted try in the game’s final minute to round out the scoring.

Guelph head coach Collette McAuley was excited about her team’s performance and is looking forward to their next test.

“The girls finally played to their potential,” said McAuley. “They had fun on the field, supported the ball well and ran like they know how. We beat a tough team today and we hope to carry that into the gold medal final.”

Laval sideline boss Bill McNeil saw positive and negative aspects in his team’s performance.

“We contested what we could today and did that well. I thought our set pieces and scrums were great, but tackling let us down at times and it cost us.”

Linthwaite was named the player of the game for the Gryphons. Scrum-half Stéphanie Bernier of Quebec City was recognized for Laval.