Good luck to the rest of the competition. They are going to need it.
The McMaster women’s rugby team capped off their regular season with a commanding 43-7 win over the Western Mustangs on Oct. 6. With the win, Mac moved to 5-0 to stay undefeated, and is the no. 1 seed with home field advantage for the duration of the Ontario University Athletics playoffs.
Leading 10-0 at the break, Mac ran away with the victory in the second half. Head coach Shaun Allen credited the fitness of the team being the difference maker.
“We are also a very fit team,” Allen said after the win over Western. “The second half against Queen’s and the second half tonight, we were able to do some pretty good things.”
Even though Mac made errors on offence in the first half, their defence was outstanding. With Western controlling most of the ball and field possession in the first 20 minutes of the game, the Marauders stood strong at the try line, not allowing Western to capitalize on mistakes made.
“Our defence was very solid,” Pletch said. “There were some very good individual points of contact, some very good tackles made.”
A big difference in their victory over Western was the style of play implemented during the game. Throughout the regular season, Mac has utilized their quickness in the backs, swinging the ball wide and stretching opposing defences to their limits. Against Western, however, Allen cited the changes in weather for affecting their different approach.
“As it gets wetter, the conditions are potentially going to get worse. We’ve been playing pretty open during the season, so we’re giving it a go allowing the forwards to get into the fight and see how they perform. It’s another tool for us.”
No. 8 and second-year player Sara Svoboda – who scored eight points on four conversions in the win over Western – echoed her coach’s strategy, citing the shift in focus from the backs to the forwards.
“We usually play an expansive style of play, meaning we get the ball out wide and get our backs to put on a clinic,” Sara said after the win over Western. “We always said that the forwards decide who wins the game, and the backs decide by how much.”
“But this game, we implemented a system where we punch up the middle and use our forwards to hit up hammer balls, trigger balls, or pick-and-go’s, and then use our backs.”
“I think our girls did really well, and it worked really well in sucking in the defence and then we expand when we have that space open up on the wings.”
With her eight points, Svoboda finished the regular season in fourth position in OUA scoring, tallying 50 points over five games. After the game, Sara touched on her thoughts on the regular season, and the team’s focus coming into playoffs.
“It feels awesome, being able to pick up where we left off from last year,” Svoboda said. “We had a bit of turnover, losing a couple of fifth years. But we have a good rookie class and a lot of vets returning and the energy has stayed high. We know we have a title to defend, and we know it’s a clean slate [from last year], but we want to keep hammering towards that goal of an OUA final and finally off to a CIS championship.”
Their playoff schedule has already started off in dominant fashion on Oct. 14, with the team thrashing the University of Toronto 85-0, who they conquered in the first game of the season. Next up, Mac once again goes up against the Western Mustangs at Ron Joyce stadium on Oct. 21.
If the Marauder women come away with the victory, they will host the OUA finals at home against the winner of the semifinal match between Queen’s and Guelph.
The women’s team are well on their way to repeating as champions of both the OUA and the CIS. The style of play for the Marauders has changed, but the results have stayed the same.