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Dinos win silver at the Canada West women’s rugby championships

Eric Licis, October. 23, 2013 —

The Dinos women’s rugby team walked a familiar path at the Canada West rugby finals this weekend as they were unable to clinch the championship for the third straight year. In a battle of Alberta, the third-ranked University of Alberta Pandas proved too strong as they out worked the Dinos en route to a 19–11 victory at McMahon Stadium.

The 2014 Canada West women’s rugby championship kicked off on Friday, Oct. 17, seeing the Dinos defeat the University of Victoria Vikes 20–19. Kate Scotland’s penalty kick in extra time proved to be the game winner in a hard-fought comeback for the Dinos.

The fifth-ranked Dinos controlled the pitch for most of the game. Forcing turnovers and utilizing the field through precision passing and line-breaking runs allowed for a dominant first half. 

Victoria’s defence dug in their heels and stopped the constant advances by the Dinos’ back line until last year’s national rookie of the year, DaLeaka Menin, scored the first try of the game on a brilliantly-timed pick and run. 

Defensive lapses from both teams allowed two tries in quick succession, with Dinos’ Natasha Loucks scoring just three minutes after Victoria, stopping the Vikes’ comeback attempt.

The second half started like the first. The Dinos once again maintained possession, hemming the Vikes in their end and capping off a dominant 16 minutes of play with a try from star rookie Elysa Sandron. Ellen McGregor broke through the Vikes’ back line at a furious pace, passing the ball to the first-year winger whose driving try brought the score to 17–7. 

“She did a lot of the work there,” Sandron said about the play set up by McGregor. “I just got the ball, and tried my best to beat their winger to get that try.”

The fun wouldn’t last long as the Vikes scored two tries within five minutes of each other. 

The Vikes’ Chelsea Palman took advantage of a defensive lapse in Calgary’s back line. She scored on the second try to put the Vikes ahead 19–17. 

Victoria missed the conversion afterwards, which proved costly. 

With three minutes given in extra time, the Dinos pushed aggressively towards the Vikes ‘try-line, culminating in a penalty against the Vikes. Against  increasingly strong winds, Scotland lined up on the right edge of McMahon stadium and kicked the ball through the uprights to complete the comeback, 20–19.

“We made a few mistakes near the end there, and we’re going to have to work on that,” said Dinos head coach Simon Chi. “Sure, it was a fun game, but hopefully the girls learned their lesson with this one.”

Unfortunately, the lesson didn’t stick, as the University of Alberta Pandas took advantage of the same defensive issues Calgary’s back line showed against the Vikes. 

The provincial rivals matched up for the championship final on Sunday afternoon. The Pandas took only three minutes to score their first try, as they pushed their way to the Dinos’ try-line with relative ease. 

The Dinos upset U of A in the regular season 19–15. Calgary’s quick start and ability to possess the ball awarded the team with the win in Edmonton. However, the same could not be said for Sunday’s game.

Scotland responded with two penalty goal kicks, but not before another try was scored by Pandas prop Stacie Becker. The Pandas controlled the play, forced turnovers and maintained consistent pressure, halting Calgary from gaining momentum. The first half ended 12–6 for U of A.

The Dinos continued to struggle in the second half. Sandron broke through the back line on a few occasions, but was unable to score against an aggressive defence. Another turnover by Calgary led to a quick turnaround and score by Pandas’ flanker Amee Svatos, making the game 19–6.

Calgary showed character in the late stages of the game, scoring a try in the 80th minute as McGregor capped off a long drive by the Dinos. Scotland missed a penalty goal-kick attempt shortly afterward, but it didn’t matter. The game ended 19–11 for the Pandas.

This marked the third attempt for Calgary in the Canada West finals and the third loss. It was the last chance for many of the Dinos as McGregor, Anna Ahart, Sammy Crandell and Michelle Mullane will move on from the program. 

The result was bittersweet, but it will hopefully inspire those who follow in these women’s footsteps to push this team to their first Canada West championship.

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