By Maggie Cogger-Orr
After pulling their record to .500, last weekend would see the men’s rugby team play under the lights against the Laurier Golden Hawks to try making it three wins in a row.
Laurier came out flying, eager to excite in front of the homecoming crowd. The Marauder’s met their tone with some tough defence in the opening minutes. The rolling maul continued to be a dominating force for the Marauders, and they would use it to work their way into the Laurier end.
Craig Leveridge had several big tackles for the Marauders, which would help to stem the momentum of the Golden Hawks. A McMaster scrum which would see new fly half Joey Ross put a flying Davor Stojanov through a gap. Stojanov would break multiple Laurier would-be tackles on his way to scoring 50 metres later to set the score to 7-0.
The Marauders would charge right back down to the red zone, and after some hard work by the forwards, a sly miss pass by Ross would see Leveridge go in untouched for their second try of the game. It would be converted by his little brother, rookie winger Jamie Leveridge, to increase the lead to 14-0.
The forwards then found their chance at the scoreboard. After a kick for touch from a penalty put the lineout within ten metres of the Laurier goal line, the McMaster pack went into autopilot. Using the rolling maul that has been the undoing of their last few opponents, they would push into the in goal where Cam Stones would be the lucky man to fall down and be awarded the try. The younger Leveridge would slot an extremely difficult kick from the left sideline to increase the score line to 21-0.
Perhaps the onslaught of scoring went to the head of the Marauders, because a few poor passes would lead to Laurier having several scrums in the McMaster red zone. Some excellent scrum defence, led by rookie open side Max Catterson, would put the Maroon back on offence. Some effective phases of ball movement would only be stymied by a disturbing trend of handling errors in later phases.
The last 20 minutes of the half would be frustrating for the Marauders, who could not seem to finish their attacks. This particular variation of the back line had no game experience working together, but never the less, ball handling seemed to be the bigger issue than line running or communication.
The second half would start in much the way the first half ended with the Marauders getting sustained offensive pressure, but then a mistimed pass led to an 80-metres break by the Laurier inside centre. Some hard tracking work by wingers Mackenzie Chown and Leveridge would allow McMaster to relieve the pressure.
The scoring stalemate continued for the first 20 minutes of the second half. McMaster would clear the bench, hoping some fresh legs would be the solution to their knock-on woes. Laurier found their stride as the game wore on and spent several consecutive minutes inside the Marauder 5m. Although the Marauders defended valiantly, eventually the Golden Hawks pressure were too much, and lock Andrew Thomas would score Laurier’s first try of the game, and of the 2012 season. The score was at 21-7 after the ensuing convert.
Some effective phase play kicking from Ross saw the Laurier winger cough up a kick inside their 22-metre line and give the Marauders an attacking scrum a chance to add onto their lead. After several consecutive phases of hard forward running, Ross would capitalize as he split the defence to restore the difference to 21 points following the older Leveridge adding on the extra two.
In the dying minutes of the game, a misplaced kick by Laurier fell into the hands of rookie fullback Richard Ormrod, who offloaded to veteran Mike Paris. After Paris beat several Golden Hawks around the sideline, Ormrod would be rewarded for his support and receive an easy pop behind the last defend to score his first try in maroon.
Some penalty trouble in the final plays would see the Marauders pinned deep inside their 22-metre line. They unable to relieve that pressure, and Laurier put up their second try of the day to end the game with a score of 35-12.
Now over .500 for the first time this season, the Marauders will take on the University of Toronto Varsity Blues at home before enjoying their Thanksgiving weekend.