Once bitten, twice shy goes the old saying - an expression the St. Francis Xavier X-Women took to heart against the Queen’s Gaels in both teams’ opening match at the U SPORTS Women’s Rugby Championship Thursday in Wolfville, N.S.
“Queen’s already beat us pretty handily this year, a game in which their backs really punished us,” StFX coach Mike Cavanagh pointed out after his squad doubled up the Gaels 42-21 at Raymond Field. “We knew we’d have to hold onto the ball longer and keep it away from their backs as much as possible, which for the most part we managed to do.”
Perennial all-star prop Joanna Alphonso was a one-woman show for the X-Women, tallying a trio of tries that totalled about five metres in combined length.
“She’s been doing that for a long time, extremely difficult to stop from in close,” lauded Cavanagh on the three-time All-Canadian.
Caleigh Walters, Sarah Hoerig and Danielle Cormier also scored tries for the victors, who led 21-7 at halftime. Danielle Franada was a perfect 6-for-6 on conversions.
We didn’t hang our heads, didn’t get down like we’ve done on occasion in the past.
Amelia Lawton and Player of the Year Sophie de Goede registered tries in a losing effort while de Goede added two converts and Nadia Popov one.
Looming large in the triumph was StFX’s ability to counter-attack, with its first opportunity coming 11 minutes in after Lawton’s brilliant 50-metre scoring sprint put the Gaels in front. That early 7-0 Tricolour advantage, however, disappeared quickly.
StFX replied with the equalizer 10 minutes later, abandoning their patented ‘pick-and-go’ and tying the game after a series of five laterals, the last of which Walters brought into touch. The X-Women notched two more tries seven minutes apart to take a 14-point lead into the dressing room.
“The fact that we were able to answer (a Queen’s try) right away was huge for us,” said Cavanagh. “We didn’t hang our heads, didn’t get down like we’ve done on occasion in the past.”
Three minutes into the second half, Cormier’s short scoring run extended the lead to 28-7. Undaunted, the Gaels replied with another electrifying run down the sideline by de Goede following a nifty off-load from a teammate.
Minutes later, Alphonso plowed over from five feet, then added another short plunge seven minutes later to secure the win and a spot in Friday’s semifinals against Laval at 3:30 p.m. ET / 12:30 p.m. PT.
StFX: 21-21: 42
QUE: 7-14: 21
- QUE – Amelia Lawton try (Nadia Popov convert) 11th
- StFX – Caleigh Walters try 25th (Danielle Franada convert) 21st
- StFX - Sarah Hoerig try (Franada convert) 26th
- StFX – Joanna Alphonso try (Franada convert) 33rd
- StFX – Danielle Cormier try (Franada convert) 38th
- QUE – Sophie de Goede try (de Goede convert) 56th
- StFX – Alphonso try (Franada convert) 61st
- StFX – Alphonso try (Franada convert) 68th
- QUE – de Goede try (de Goede convert) 75th
Players of the game
- StFX: Joanna Alphonso
- QUE: Nadia Popov
As the official Rugby Ball Supplier of U SPORTS, Gilbert Rugby Canada will provide match balls and other prizing to the 2018 U SPORTS Women’s Rugby Championship hosted by Acadia University from Nov.1-4 at Raymond Field in Wolfville, N.S.