There are three interpretations of McGill’s (5-0-0) 26-14 victory over Bishop’s (3-2-0) last Friday at Molson Stadium: One, McGill’s 26 first-half points ran Bishop’s out of the game. Two, centre Augustus Hill’s 12 penalty kick points were the difference between the two sides; Bishop’s made McGill sweat with 14 unanswered points in the second half. Three, the Redmen re-affirmed their no.1 RSEQ spot, but the Gaiters highlighted some of McGill’s weak spots.
Among these interpretations, the third one holds the most truth—The undefeated Redmen comfortably leads the RSEQ, scoring an astonishing 177 points and conceeding only 30 points so far this season. McGill’s dominance was characterized by quick ball out of the rucks, a good use of the wings, shiver-inducing tackles, and disciplined defensive lines.
“We worked on [defence] this week, same thing as usual,” Backs coach Matt Garston said. “[We made] sure we don’t go offside. We did really well in the first half.”
McGill’s defensive pressure consistently corralled Bishop’s into the 22-metre line and forced four penalties in the first 40 minutes while Hill proved to be a force.
“Today, if he hadn’t made those penalties this game would be tied 14-14,” Garston said. “He kicked four penalties and that basically won us the game[….]”
McGill’s first try started two minutes into the game with number-eight Sebastien Boyer breaking three tackles on his way to the five-meter line. The Gaiters bunched around the ruck, resulting in McGill passing the ball down its huge overlap for winger Thomas Stoke to finish in the corner. Fullback Alexander Russell scored the second McGill try with an astonishing chip and chase in the 37th minute.
The Gaiters, down 26 in the first half, were unfazed. They saw their game plan of pressuring McGill’s goal line with kicks deep into Redmen territory was rewarded in the second half with a 52nd minute try. Bishop’s kept McGill on the back foot with incisive running and better organization in the Gaiter’s defensive line. Furthermore, the visitors stopped conceeding penalties, taking Hill’s kicking abilities out of the game.
McGill ultimately weathered the storm with one more try conceded in the 70th minute; their 26 first-half points provided an adequate buffer. The Gaiters demonstrated that success against McGill required limiting penalties and attacking the Redmen goal line.
McGill, however, will be confident going into next week’s matchup against the Montreal Carabins (4-1-0). The RSEQ is McGill’s to lose; they have the most disciplined side and well-rounded squad in the league.
“First half we were in their half the whole half and second half they were in our half the whole half.”- Coach Garston on a match of two halves.
Play of the game
Russell received the ball on the sideline in the 37th minute. He demonstrated excellent footwork manoeuvring past a defender. Russell, seeing space behind the Gaiter’s defence, chipped the ball 25 metres forward and out-sprinted his nearest challenger to touch the ball down for a try.
Stat of the game
Hill was a perfect 6-6 on all of his kicks.