by Ben Matchett,
(ISN) – CALGARY, Alta. – They didn’t have many opportunities, but the University of Victoria Vikes women’s rugby team took full advantage of the ones they did receive, defeating the UBC Thunderbirds 27-16, Oct. 19, to capture the Canada West bronze medal.
What started out as a back-and-forth affair, with three lead changes in the first 30 minutes, turned one-sided for 35 full minutes as UBC held a significant territorial advantage at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium. After Laura Crowe-Hutchon put the Vikes up 12-8 in the final 10 minutes of the opening half, UBC began to apply pressure and made run after run after run toward the try line – a string of almost constant possession that stretched deep into the final frame
All the Thunderbirds got to show for it, though, was a try by Gillian Boag eight minutes into the second half, putting UBC up by a tenuous 13-12.
Having perfected their rope-a-dope strategy, the Vikes struck quickly when they got a chance in the 67th minute. Stringing out the UBC defence, the Vikes broke through for the go-ahead try by Sheriden Davis to take over the lead at 17-13. A Paige Smith penalty goal just three minutes later brought the T-Birds within three, but all hope was snuffed out just two minutes after that. Victoria wing Sya Trafford chased down a loose ball that had been kicked by the Thunderbirds into their own end zone. She was unable to corral the ball successfully, but the Vikes were awarded a penalty try for their efforts – and Kara Galbraith split the uprights on the convert to give the Vikes an insurmountable lead at 24-16.
Jess Neilson, who converted Tiffany Picketts’ try in the first four minutes of the game, added a penalty goal in the final minute to make the final 27-16.
UBC’s first-half scoring came courtesy a try by Ciara Malone and another Smith penalty goal.
Following the gold-medal match, that saw Alberta drop Calgary, Crowe-Hutchon and Kara Galbraith were honoured as Canada West All-stars.
VIC – Tiffany Picketts try (Jess Neilson convert), 4′, 7-0 VIC
UBC – Ciara Malone try, 12′, 7-5 VIC
UBC – Paige Smith penalty goal, 27′, 8-7 UBC
VIC – Laura Crowe-Hutcheon try, 30′, 12-8 VIC
UBC – Gillian Boag try, 48′ 13-12 UBC
VIC – Sheriden Davis try, 67′, 17-13 VIC
UBC – Paige Smith penalty goal, 70′, 17-16 VIC
VIC – Sya Trafford try (Kara Galbraith convert), 72′, 24-16 VIC
VIC – Jess Neilson penalty goal, 80′, 27-16 VIC