GUELPH, ON – The McMaster Marauders made an impressive debut at the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship. McMaster defeated the Concordia Stingers 38-11 in Pool A play on a cold, clear day at Alumni Stadium on the University of Guelph campus.
It took a few minutes to get going but the side from Hamilton dominated possession and was solid up front throughout the match, while Concordia squandered many of the opportunities they did have, unable to string together any momentum.
“We started out a little sloppy and made a few mistakes in the first 10 minutes,” said Marauders’ head coach Dan Pletch. “I think the guys were just nervous playing in their first national championship. And Concordia played well given that they went 60 minutes against a real tough opponent. They put us under some pressure. But we tightened it up and corrected some mistakes.”
Fly half Will Redgate and centre Kevin Perera scored first-half tries for McMaster, while hooker Jack McRogers, wing Callum Mcleay, and fly half Graham Dobbs each had a try in the second half for the OUA bronze medalists. Fly half William Kelly was also good on three penalty kicks and two converts.
Eight man Lucas Hotton scored Concordia’s lone try, while fullback Jonathan Banks had two penalty kicks.
Stingers’ head coach Craig Beemer said he knew that the sheer size of his team’s opponents would be an issue at the event.
“We played a lot of defence and didn’t have much ball throughout the tournament,” said Beemer. “We weren’t ready for the physicality that the Ontario and BC teams brought. It was definitely eye opening for us. In the end, it will be a good learning experience. We have a whole year to get bigger, stronger faster. We know that if we’re fortunate enough to win our conference again and go to another national championship, we’ll have to be prepared physically.”
McMaster was up 19-3 early in the second half when McRogers sprinted in from about 30 yards out. Banks would add his second penalty kick for the Stingers but the Marauders responded with two more hard-earned tries from Mcleay and Dobbs.
Hotton would score the Stingers’ first try of the tournament on excellent effort when he broke away from the McMaster defence in the final seconds of the match.
“It’s pretty important in the sense that we worked really hard this year,” Beemer said of Hotton’s run. “No one gave up until the final whistle and having it end with a hard-work try is something to take home, a positive.”
The two sides exchanged early penalty kicks before McMaster began to gain some control in the game. Redgate scored a try in the 15th minute to put the Marauders up 8-3. And moments later, the Stingers were the victims of bad luck. A Concordia player was injured on the field, giving McMaster a temporary numerical advantage, which they utilized when Perera touched down in the 17th minute.
The Stingers were able to get deep into the McMaster end on their next possession but they lost a scrum to give the ball back. Kelly added a penalty kick from 38 yards out to give the Marauders a 16-3 lead at the half.
Next up for McMaster is a date with UBC Thunderbirds.
“We’ll have to keep it simple like we always do,” said Pletch. “Defence will be key, the set piece will be key. We’ll have to keep possession of the ball. We will just have to go out and do our best and see what happens.”
Beemer was positive about his side’s experience and understands that the defending RSEQ champions now have a new goal now.
“When the season began, there was no national championship,” he said. “Going into next year, we will have something bigger to go for.
“Even if we win our conference, we still have to go to war against some big and talented teams after that.”