Thunderbirds upset Dinos in Canada West season opener

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Vancouver, BC – The UBC Thunderbirds women’s rugby team opened the 2014 Canada West regular season in style, upsetting the No. 8-ranked Calgary Dinos 24-19 Friday afternoon in front of the Gerald McGavin UBC Rugby Centre.

The Thunderbirds led 7-0 after the first half and after Calgary tied the game in the opening minute of the second half, UBC scored 17 straight points to go ahead 24-7, eventually holding on for the 24-19 victory.

“It feels good,” said UBC head coach Maria Gallo. “I feel like last year’s efforts are coming to fruition. The girls are playing well together, their mindset is way different and they are very aggressive which is something we have been working on the last three weeks.”

UBC inside centre Mackenzie Lee scored the game’s first try in the 21st minute. Paige Smith was good on the convert to put the Thunderbirds in front 7-0. 

Defence was the story late in the first half as the Dinos got down to the one-inch line but the Thunderbirds refused to late them cross the goal line, keeping the score 7-0 at the half.

Calgary didn’t waste anytime getting on the board in the first minute of the second half. After UBC misplayed a kick, Elysa Sandron picked up the loose ball at midfield and went the distance for the try. Kate Scotland added the convert to tie the game at 7-7.

Less than four minutes later in the shadow of their own goal line, Megan Hamm broke free, eventually getting the ball into the hands of wing Ciara Malone who would not be caught, putting the Thunderbirds back in front 14-7. 

After Smith added a penally kick to put UBC ahead 17-7 in the 50th minute, Shawnee Monchalin intercepted a Calgary pass just on UBC’s side of the midfield line and would outrun everybody, scoring the try and giving the Thunderbirds a commanding 24-7 advantage.

The Dinos though would not go away. The speedy Sandron scored her second try of the game in the 68th minute to cut the lead to 24-14 and then DaLeaka Menin would cross the line one more time for the Dinos just as time expired. They were unable to convert, making the final score 24-19.

It was the Thunderbirds’ first win over the Calgary Dinos since 2010.

“This win is massive mentally,” said Gallo. “We have a short turnaround – in seven days we are playing again, literally we have three games in the next 10 days so this win sets us off with the right mindset.”

“The difference for us is we have a couple of athletes with real experience, dictators on the field. Megan Hamm coming back from injury has been massive for us, getting Haley Glendinning to return for a fifth season is huge and Carolyn McEwen is a solid forward and captain. Having them there is key to our success.”

UBC will be back in action next Friday, September 26th at 4:00 pm PST when they play host to the Lethbridge Pronghorns at Lord Field just in front of the Gerald McGavin Rugby Centre.

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