November 4, 2012, ANTIGONISH, N.S. (CIS) – In a battle of OUA and AUS conference finalists, the Queen’s Gaels wrapped up their 2012 season with a 36-22 victory over the Acadia Axewomen in the fifth-place game of the CIS women’s rugby championship, presented by the Town of Antigonish, Sunday morning at StFX Oland Stadium.
Queen’s had also finished fifth in its only previous CIS championship appearance in 2010. Acadia was competing at the national tournament for the first time.
Nadia Popov, the OUA rookie of the year from Newmarket, Ont., scored two tries for the Gaels, while player of the game Bronwyn Corrigan of Waterloo, Ont., contributed 11 points on four conversions and a penalty goal.
Queen’s head coach Beth Barz commented, “It was nice to see our team play like we know they can play. We certainly stepped up a little bit more than we have in the last two games, and we looked more like the team we’re used to seeing. It was nice to finish on a winning note.”
Both teams tested each other out in the opening ten minutes of play, exchanging possession, with no real scoring threats until AUS rookie of the year Maddie MacKenzie from Peterborough, Ont., picked off a Gaels pass in the 15th minute and ran 75 yards down the length of the field to score the first try for the Axewomen. Ottawa native Emilie Chiasson kicked the conversion to give the AUS finalists a 7-0 lead.
Queen’s got on the board in the 24th minute. Its scrum pushed the ball five metres across the try line as no. 8 player Kayla Roote of Peterborough pounced on it in the end zone. The unconverted try pulled the OUA silver medallists to within two points at 7-5.
The Gaels took the lead in the 30th minute as Popov scored her first try of the game after solid pressure in the Axewomen zone resulted in the major score. Corrigan, an OUA conference all-star, converted the score to give Queen’s a 12-7 advantage.
The Axewomen quickly shifted the momentum as they made headway in deep in the Gaels zone, and after a couple penalty calls, drove the ball across the try line at the 35-minute mark. Fourth-year AUS all-star lock Allison Jordan from Fall River, N.S., was credited with the score but Nicole Kelly of Morell, P.E.I., hit the post on the convert attempt and the game was locked in a 12-12 tie, which held until half-time.
The back and forth scoring continued in the second half as Kelly kicked a penalty goal for the Axewomen in the 44th minute, then the Gaels came back down field and found Popov for her second try of the contest three minutes later. Corrigan’s second conversion of the morning gave Queen’s a 19-15 advantage.
The Axewomen lost AUS all-star fullback Emilie Chiasson early in the second half to an injury.
Corrigan gave the Gaels a 22-15 lead with a penalty goal in the 52nd minute and Queen’s made it more comfortable at 29-15 in the 60th minute with a try by centre Lauren McEwan of Wasaga Beach, Ont., and the ensuing convert by Corrigan.
Gaels forward Taylor White of Bancroft, Ont., was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes after she was penalized with a yellow card in the 62nd minute.
The Axewomen battled back and after MacKenzie made a few good moves to break some Gaels tackles, she helped set up a try by Jane Foster of Saint John, N.B., in the 67th minute. The try was converted by Nicole Kelly as the Axewomen drew closer at 29-22 with a dozen minutes left to play.
The Acadia spirits were quickly deflated, however, as Gaels winger Caitie Ryan from Kamloops, B.C., scored Queen’s fifth try of the day just three minutes later. Corrigan’s fourth conversion increased the lead to 36-22, the score that held to the end of the match.
Acadia lock Allison Jordan received player-of-the-game honours for the Axewomen.
Acadia head coach Matt Durant commented, “We knew we had a chance to win this game today and I think the girls left everything out there. We played our hearts out, we got a couple of bounces come our way and some go the other way. I think if we played the game again, it could be a different outcome. I am really proud of how we played.”
“A lot of coaches have congratulated us this weekend,” continued Durant. “The AUS is such a strong conference for women’s rugby and I think we’ve known that here for a long time, and maybe now the rest of the country is starting to take notice that we are a conference to be taken seriously.”