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.