On Oct. 20, spectators at Molson Stadium saw the McGill Redmen (3-4) get off to a slow start against the Université de Montréal (UdeM) Carabins (3-4) in the first half of the season’s closing game. Refusing to end on a low note, McGill’s near-impenetrable defence prevailed in the second half, and they took the game 31-21.
“It was a good win,” Redmen Assistant Coach Greg Gallant said. “We were a little bit sloppy, we didn’t take control of our ball, [but] we proved that we’re a superior team but [only] when we want to work.”
The Redmen and Carabins were on equal footing for an entire first half rife with picks and scrums as the ball constantly changed hands. For every rush McGill made, a penalty or broken ruck set them back. UdeM had similar problems with making it to the goal line, and the game was tied 14-14 when the dust settled at halftime.
“Whenever they scored, it was because we gave them the ball off a penalty,” McGill lock Ryan Robb said. “It’s us playing badly, not them playing well, so if we continue doing our job and doing what we do, everything will be okay.”
Renewed after the halftime break, McGill swiftly took the upper-hand. The Redmen scored two tries and a drop goal in the second half, while a strong defence didn’t allow any opportunities for a comeback until the Carabins managed a try in the game’s closing minutes. That effort was eventually in vain, as McGill’s ruck-breaking ability eviscerated UdeM’s offensive momentum during that last breath of life.
“We had to bring a lot of energy out on the field,” Redmen scrum-half Jessen Gibbs said. “We came off two strong wins. The team’s finally coming together really strong. We had a lot of rookies this year [.…] We just need to be more critical on the field now.”
McGill will go on to face the École de Technologie Supérieure (ETS) Piranhas in the RSEQ quarterfinals on Oct. 28. Despite losing narrowly to ETS early in the season, the Redmen are confident going into the postseason.
“We’ve just got to keep our work rate up, make sure we’re working hard all the time” Gallant said. “Good things happen when you work hard.”
Moment of the Game
In their last scoring chance of the first half, UdeM dropped the ball just shy of the goal line in the face of McGill’s behemoth defencemen, where the Redmen took possession and squandered the Carabins’ last shot at victory.
“We’re gonna hit on Wednesdays, run on Mondays, and on Fridays we’re gonna come together as a team.” – Second-year hooker Alex Pantis on the week ahead.
The Redmen hope to continue their streak of reaching every RSEQ final since 2000.