T-Birds drop semifinal to Pandas; will play for Can West bronze

Can West

VANCOUVER – The Alberta Pandas scored 32 unanswered points to defeat the UBC Thunderbirds in the second Canada West women’s rugby semifinal today at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium to advance to the championship final.
UBC’s only try came on a spectacular run by Gabrielle Hindley in the ninth minute. With her team trailing 5-0, Hindley took a pass and ran about 40 metres past at least six Alberta defenders to score underneath the goalposts.
Paige Smith converted the try to give UBC a 7-5 lead. The score gave the Thunderbirds momentum against the defending CIS champions, as the team held possession in the Alberta end of the field for a good chunk of the first half. However, UBC couldn’t score and Alberta broke through in the 32nd minute.
Finally lingering in UBC’s end, the Pandas kept pushing along the goal line until Amanda Smith was able to punch it through on the far left side of the field. The final try of the half had a similar feel for the Pandas as Kaitlyn Cumming put another five points on the board, giving the No. 3-ranked team in the country a 15-7 lead at half.
From there, the Pandas did all the scoring. Sara Haring snuck through some rucks to score in the 44th minute before Rebecca Fairbairn scored two tries in a row, which included one convert, for a total of 12 points from the fourth-year fly half. Alberta’s Carissa Rysko scored the final points of the game, shutting out the Thunderbirds in the second half.
UBC will now face the University of Victoria Vikes on Sunday for the bronze medal. The match will begin at 10 a.m. PT. The two teams met on Oct. 10 in the final game of the regular season, and Victoria came out on top 22-10. Alberta will now face the Calgary Dinos in Sunday’s conference final.
1st Half
ALB – Liz Steele try, 3′, 5-0 ALB
UBC – Gabrielle Hindley try (Paige Smith convert), 9′, 7-5 UBC
ALB – Amanda Smith try, 32′, 10-7 ALB
ALB – Kaitlyn Cumming try, 39′, 15-7 ALB
2nd Half
ALB – Sara Haring try, 44′, 20-7 ALB
ALB – Rebecca Fairbairn try (Rebecca Fairbairn convert), 51′, 27-7 ALB
ALB – Rebecca Fairbairn try, 67′, 32-7 ALB
ALB – Carissa Rysko try, 78′, 37-7 ALB