The Marauders beat the Queen’s Gaels by one point, bringing the Maroon and Grey to 2-2 in the 2012 OUA Season.

Maggie Cogger-Orr

After getting their first win of the season the weekend before, the Marauders were back in action on Sept. 22, travelling to St. Catharines to take on the undefeated Brock Badgers.

McMaster entered the game hoping to build on their momentum after dominating the large, physical RMC Paladins team.
The momentum transferred right from the first kickoff with a big hit by rookie flanker Max Catterson, putting the Badgers on their back feet from the start.

This opening pressure would eventually be converted into a try as the Marauder pack that has come into their own in the past few weeks used their lineout mauling to roll over Brock and to give third-year 8-man Cam Stones his first try of 2012. Scrum half Andrew Ferguson would kick the convert to give McMaster the early 7-0 lead.

The Marauders were unable to sustain this level of momentum, and within a few minutes, Brock’s Zack Lamacraft would add a penalty goal.

The Badgers would use some effective pick and go work by their forwards to have Ben Harmer touch down for a try, which Lamacraft would then convert.

Penalty woes would continue to be a slight issue for the men in Maroon, as twenty minutes through the first half, Lamacraft would be able to capitalize by adding another three points to the Badgers’ lead.

Brock would continue to hammer away at the McMaster defence, with their forwards continuing to pick and go and eventually having Reece Hummel pummel his way over the try line to bring the lead to 18-7.

The Marauders would fight their way back into the Brock red zone, and after the Badgers took several penalties, the team’s only fifth-year, Evan Smith, would cut against the grain to score McMaster’s second of the game, which Ferguson would convert to end the half down 18-14.

The Marauders would start the second half much like they started the first, coming out of the gates firing and eager to get back on the scoreboard.

They would achieve this three minutes into the half with some excellent line running by outside centre Davor Stojanov, who scored for second week in a row off a pass from rookie fly half Graham Dobbs. With Ferguson adding the extra two, the men in maroon would jump to a 21-18 lead.

Just when it seemed as though the Badgers might be able to limit Ferguson’s contribution to the scoreboard to a few conversions, the crafty scrum half split the Brock defence and beat the fullback to score his fifth try of the season.
Ferguson now not only leads the league in overall points with 54, but is also the leading try scorer.

The Badgers would not go quietly, though, as they conjured up some sustained pressure in the ensuing minutes and would finally score, with Lamacraft converting it to bring the score to a nail-biting 26-25 for the Marauders.

The last ten minutes of the game would see the McMaster defence go into lockdown. They were able to stop Brock’s pick-and-go game with some great post defence and with the backs, specifically inside centre Craig Leveridge.

The pressure would eventually lead to Brock throwing a forward pass, which would be the final play of the game, sealing the Marauders’ second win of the year.

With their record back to .500 and momentum starting to build behind them, McMaster moves into a tie with Waterloo for fourth place in the OUA with 10 points.

Their next game sees them take on the last-place Laurier Golden Hawks this Friday in Waterloo.
In spite of their lowly status, the Marauders know not to underestimate Laurier, who, in years past, has always risen to the occasion.
With several backs, including Leveridge and Chad Strapp, out with injury, Australian Joey Ross will likely slide into the fly half position with Dobbs making his way into the centres.

The Marauders will miss Leveridge’s hardnosed defence, but expect to see some creative things on offence coming from the new fly half-centre combination.

Photo C/O Richard Zazulak

Ben Orr

Silhouette Staff

The Marauders’ perfect record did not survive their trip to Guelph, but their season itself is far from over.

Losing for the first time this season, the McMaster women's rugby team fell to the Guelph Gryphons 36-5 in the OUA Championship on Oct. 29.

Played on the Saturday night at Varsity Field, the game marked the toughest test the dominant Gryphons have faced all season. By reaching the final, both teams had already claimed their place at the CIS tournament, to be held in Peterborough on November 3-6.

The Marauders came into the match with a 7-0 record, having earned a CIS tournament berth by defeating the Brock Badgers in the OUA semifinal. It will be the program’s first appearance on the national stage since the tournament’s inception in 1998.

OUA All-Star Natasha Turner scored the lone try for the Maroon and Grey on the day, as the Gryphon's attack proved to be too strong to be denied for long. After pinning Guelph in their end early, the Marauders were unable to capitalize on a cold night that saw numerous ball-handling errors.

The Gryphons were able to turn defence into offence, and the second-ranked team in the nation did not look back. The title is the Gryphons fourth in a row and 11th since it was first contested in 1994.

Both teams will venture to Peterborough this weekend to compete at the CIS Championships.  The Trent Excalibur, who were knocked out of the OUA playoffs early by the Queen's Gaels, will also compete as hosts, giving the province three representatives at the tournament.

Rounding out the competition are the top-ranked St. Francis Xavier X-Women (the AUS champions), the Laval Rouge et Or (RSEQ champions) and the Lethbridge Pronghorns (Canada West champions).

The X-Women have been ranked first in the nation all season long, and defeated Acadia 60-0 in the Atlantic final for their 14th straight conference title.  Lethbridge also enjoyed a dominant undefeated season, culminating with a 41-0 shutout of Alberta in the title match. The title was their sixth in a row.

Laval is yet another undefeated champion heading to Ontario, having beaten Concordia 43-27 in the RSEQ final.

Trent is hosting the tournament for the second year in a row, and will look to improve on their 0-3 mark posted last year.

St. Francis Xavier will be looking to defend their 2010 title, and earn their third overall. Lethbridge looks to return to the winner’s circle after winning three titles in a row, from 2007 to 2009.

Pool A will consist of St. FX, Trent and Lethbridge, while McMaster, Laval and Guelph will play in Pool B. This setup guarantees a rematch of the OUA final between the Marauders and Gryphons.

The fifth place, bronze medal and gold medal games will be played on Nov. 6. Matches will be live-streamed on SSN Canada.

Tyler Hayward / Senior Photo Editor

Ben Orr

Silhouette Staff

The McMaster Marauders are off the to OUA semifinals in spectacular fashion.

The women's rugby squad dominated in cold and rainy conditions Back Ten Field on Oct. 15, crushing the Toronto Varsity Blues 48-0.  The victory marks the team’s first shutout of the season, and earns them a spot in the provincial semifinals against the Brock Badgers.

Natasha Turner opened the scoring for the Marauders, with Maggie Cogger-Orr taking charge with two tries of her own to push to lead to 19-0.  Kim Ngai capped off the half with a score of her own, and the Maroon and Grey took a 24-0 lead into halftime.

The second half began with 20 minutes of back-and-forth play, as both teams were handicapped by high winds and rain. The Marauders would finally break through as Turner ran for two tries in ten minutes.

Ngai and Emily Ricketts added insurance as Turner converted on a kick for the first time on the day, much to the delight of the McMaster sideline.  The convert was to be the last play of the game, as a relieved Turner raised her hands with the referee’s whistle, mercifully ending a dominating performance by the Marauders.

Following his team’s win, Cam Mitchell spoke about how it felt to claim his first playoff victory as a rookie head coach.

“It was a bit of a relief,” said Mitchell. “I knew that Toronto wouldn't be the same team we played before and I think they came out with a bit more flash out wide, but the conditions really helped us and we were able to handle it.

“I'm very happy. This is the first game of the year in which we haven't allowed any points, so that was very big for us.”

The defensive performance was clearly important to a team that has dominated on offence all season long, but had yet to earn a shut out.

“Going forward we want to keep doing this,” Mitchell remarked. “We know we're going to have a lot better opposition to face. So it's about doing the same things we've been doing, just a little sharper because the opposition is going to be better.”

The coach praised the performance of two defenders in particular.

“We played tons of defence and Lindsay Turner made some very big tackles, as well as Stephanie Baron, who came in as a substitute for us.”

Mitchell also spoke about the consistency he has instilled in his team.

“We've basically done the same thing we've done all year. For defence we didn't have any little mistakes, so we didn't give away any points, so that was the biggest thing we can take away from this game.”

The Marauders defeated the Varsity Blues 68-7 during the regular season. When asked if it was difficult to keep in team playing at a high intensity, knowing they had won so easily just weeks previously, Mitchell praised his squad's focus.

“Once the game started, I didn't worry at all. In practice this week I was worried we wouldn't be quite as intense coming in but I think the women proved me wrong with that,” said Mitchell.

Adding to the playoff atmosphere, the match was played in harsh conditions, which lead to difficulty moving the ball and offensive errors.

“I think if anything [the weather] favoured us because we're definitely stronger in the forwards. They tried to run some stuff out wide that may have been a little easier if it had been better weather but overall it wasn't a huge factor for either of these teams.”

Mitchell's post-game message to his team was simple.

“I just told them that I was very happy with their game, happy we did not allow any points and that we still had a lot of work to do to prepare for the next two weeks,” said Mitchell.

Next, the Marauders will take on the Brock Badgers, who scraped by the Waterloo Warriors 13-0 in triple-overtime.

After two overtime periods solved nothing, the third overtime was played in the form of penalty kicks, with the Badgers converting on their final kick for the victory.

Coach Mitchell and the Marauders will not change anything in preparation for what is a relatively unknown opponent.

“We haven't seen them in a couple years because they're in the other division, but we expect them to be similar to most of the teams we've played,” said Mitchell.

“We're not going to change anything specifically, we'll just play our system and we'll attack where ever we see them being vulnerable on the field.”

That OUA semifinal will be played on Oct. 22 at 12 p.m. on Mac's Back Ten Field.

Captain Maggie Cogger-Orr has led Mac to a 5-0 regular season record

Ben Orr

Silhouette Staff

With an emphatic weekend win the Maroon and Grey have clinched the OUA's Russell Division crown.

By beating the Trent Excalibur 48-12 on Oct. 7, the McMaster women's rugby team earned a 5-0 record.  With 24 regular season points, the Marauders have won home field advantage for next week’s playoff game against the Toronto Varsity Blues.

Rookie Cindy Nelles continued to impress, leading her team with 16 points in the form of two tries and three converts. Adding two tries each were Claire Lockhart and Hannah Braithwaite.

Victoria Sawatsky and Sarah Berry also scored, with Maggie Cogger-Orr adding a convert on a day that saw a very balanced scoring attack on the part of the Marauders.

Despite the undefeated record, coach Cam Mitchell made it clear that this was not his team’s ultimate goal.

“We're happy with it, going undefeated in the regular season, but we just have to think that we haven't won anything yet and keep reminding ourselves of that, because there's no trophy or medal for winning the regular season.”

When asked if the impressive record relieved the stress any rookie coach inevitably feels, Mitchell stayed on point, praising his team and reiterating their goal.

“I think that we had to go 5-0 as a team. I'm very happy with it, but we haven't won anything yet.”

It was an impressive regular season nonetheless, one that saw the Marauders outscore their opponents 232 to 54.  That offensive output was tops in McMaster’s division, and second only to OUA powerhouse Guelph.

McMaster now takes on a Toronto team which they trashed 69-7 on Sept. 24 in Scarborough.  Coach Mitchell outlined his approach to playing a playoff game against a team that was handled so easily by his squad just three weeks ago.

“We're going in with the thought that it's a completely different team we're playing. They beat Waterloo who we thought would be one of our biggest competitors and they put up over 20 points against Queen's, who we were very close with, so we think that they're peaking at the exactly right time and they're going to give us a very good game.”

Despite a grueling regular season of rugby coming to an end, Mitchell has no plans to change his team’s habits this week as they prepare to take on the Varsity Blues. The coach plans to run his team as hard as ever.

“I think we got here by working hard in practice, playing a lot of games, doing contact, so the hard work we do in practice carries over to the games. So I don't want to scale back the intensity too much because I think that might scale back our intensity in the game.”

Trent will take on the second-place Queen's Gaels in the other Russell Division quarterfinal, with Brock squaring off against Waterloo and Guelph taking on the Western Mustangs in the Shiels Division quarterfinal games.

Guelph also ran the table this year in the OUA, with an astonishing plus-445 point differential through five games. They are ranked second in the nation and have faced virtually no real opposition this season. Many are looking towards a potential match up between the Marauders and the Gryphons in the OUA Championship game. Coach Mitchell explained his game plan for Guelph in one word.

“Pressure. Basically their games so far have been semi-contested training runs. No one's put them under pressure. They've scored at will, so I think if we can work hard against them, work hard and put them under pressure, they won't have experienced that before and we can probably give them a game.”

The Marauders will start their journey through the OUA playoffs on Oct. 15 at Back Ten Field. Game time for the quarterfinal matchup is 12 p.m.

 

 

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