November 1, 2012, ANTIGONISH, N.S. (CIS) – The tournament host St. Francis Xavier X-Women showed why they were ranked No. 1 in the country for the entire 2012 season as they cruised to a 53-10 win over the Queen’s Gaels in the first pool B match of the CIS women’s rugby championship, hosted by the Town of Antigonish, Thursday afternoon.
Winger Amanda Thornborough of Brandon, Man., scored three tries and fullback Magali Harvey of Quebec City tallied 13 points on a penalty goal and five converts to the delight of the home crowd of over 1000 fans. Thornborough and Harvey were both named CIS all-Canadians on Wednesday night.
Second row Emma Taylor from Scotsburn, N.S., played a strong defensive game for StFX, handling the ball well and garnering player-of-the-game honours.
“The first ten minutes we were a little shaky, it took us a few minutes to adjust,” commented Scotsburn, a third year business student.
“Once we got a hang of what we were doing, we came out on fire and didn’t stop until the last minute. It was a good game; Queen’s hit hard and they wanted it just as much as we did. We made them play our game and I think that’s what did it for us. We also made some big hit and played good defence.”
The opening 10 minutes of play started out as a defensive battle for field position as both teams came out strong, tackling hard. It was the AUS champion X-Women who were first able to break the defence and score.
Natalie Lesco of London, Ont., broke through the Gaels defenders, running the ball 30 yards down field before handing off to Thornborough, who scored the X-Women’s first try of the game in the 13th minute. Lesco also passed off the ball on the X-Women’s second try four minutes later, scored by second-year center Sara Kaljuvee of Ajax, Ont., an AUS all-star this past season. Magali Harvey converted on both opening tries.
Bronwyn Corrigan of Waterloo, Ont., got the Gaels on the board in the 27th minute with a penalty goal. The OUA Russell division all-star pulled the Gaels to within seven points of the 2011 CIS silver medallist X-Women at 14-3.
Fourth-year prop Olivia DeMerchant of Woodstock, N.B., increased the StFX lead to 21-3, scoring a try in the 31st minute. Harvey once again converted the score.
Corrigan attempted another penalty goal with no time left on the clock to close out the first half but the kick was not good, keeping the score at 21-3 in favour of StFX.
The 15-time AUS champion X-Women then opened up the second half with 32 unanswered points, putting the game out of reach for the OUA finalist Gaels.
Harvey kicked a penalty goal in the 36th minute and then the X-Women scored five consecutive tries. AUS all-star winger Lisa Gauthier of St. Bernadin, Ont., crossed the try line in the 44th minute after a hand-off from Vanessa Duffley of Belleisle, N.B., then fifth-year captain Asya Bartley of Ottawa followed up with StFX’s fifth try two minutes later.
Thornborough, who led the Atlantic conference in tries scored this past season, added two more to her tally as she scored in the 49th and 52nd minutes. Harvey converted on both to give the X-Women a 48-3 stranglehold.
Queen’s had a good scoring chance when Susan Heald of Burlington, Ont., had a long run, breaking a couple StFX tackles with 15 minutes left in the game to move into X territory, however the StFX defense quickly pushed them back.
Gauthier scored her second try of the game for the X-Women in the 57th minute after Thornborough made a long run down field to set up several passes that found their way across to Gauthier.
The Gaels maul was pressuring late in the game in StFX territory and finally made good, scoring their first and only try of the game. OUA all-star prop Claragh Pegg of Barrie, Ont., was credited with the try, while OUA rookie of the year Nadia Popov of Newmarket, Ont., made good on the convert in the 66th minute as the score closed out at 53-10.
Pegg took home player-of-the-game honours for the Gaels, who were disappointed with the outcome of their first game at the 2012 championship.
“We gave a lot of heart,” commented Pegg. “Overall, we gave it everything we had, especially in the first couple of minutes, emptying the tank and trying to get up in their face and make those tackles.”
“There are a couple of things that we need to fix that we will work on for the next game.”
The Gaels (0-1) will meet the RSEQ champion Concordia Stingers (0-0) Friday at 1:30 p.m. Atlantic Time in their second and last game of the preliminary round.
Pegg added that the Gaels will make those adjustments for that game, needing to improve their line speed on defence, and getting more of an early catch.
“I think if we had of fixed those two things, it would have been a different game on our side.”
The X-Women (1-0) will also meet the Stingers in their last round robin game, to be played Saturday at 1:30 p.m. AT.
Earlier today, the OUA champion Guelph Gryphons (1-0) defeated the Acadia Axewomen (0-1) 45-7 in pool A round robin action.
STFX 21-32: 53
QUE 3-7: 10
- StFX – Amanda Thornborough try (Magali Harvey convert) 13th minute
- StFX – Sara Kaljuvee try (Magali Harvey convert) 18th
- QUE – Bronwyn Corrigan penalty goal 27th
- StFX – Olivia DeMerchant try (Magali Harvey convert) 31st
- StFX – Magali Harvey penalty goal 36th
- StFX – Lisa Gauthier try 44th
- StFX – Asya Bartley try 46th
- StFX – Amanda Thornborough try (Magali Harvey convert) 49th
- StFX – Amanda Thornborough try (Magali Harvey convert) 52nd
- StFX – Lisa Gauthier try 57th
- QUE – Claragh Pegg try (Nadia Popov convert) 66th
Players of the game
StFX: Emma Taylor (Scotsburn, N.S.)
QUE: Claragh Pegg (Barrie, Ont.)