The McGill Martlets’ (2-1) rugby team handed it to the Sherbrooke Vert et Or (1-2) on Sunday afternoon, dominating both offensively and defensively on its way to an astounding 102-12 victory.
McGill entered the game needing a boost of confidence, following last week’s letdown defeat to Concordia. “The girls had a tough time recovering from their loss against Concordia and [this] was a good way to wash that taste out,” Head Coach John Lavery said. Playing on their home field with their family and friends watching, the Martlets took the opportunity to get back in stride.
Martlet captain Brianna Miller was critical of her team’s start, but thought they executed better as a unit as the game progressed. “I think, as a team, we started a bit slow, but after we took it up and stuck to our game plan we really showed Sherbrooke that this is our home field,” Miller said. Her impact in the game was noticeable, as she scored two tries and made twelve conversions in the game.
Second-year prop Rachele Rose praised Miller’s role both on and off the field.
“Miller, our captain; and Victoria Horne, our co-captain; keep pushing us on and giving us speeches … everyone is building each other up.” Rose, a former Junior Varsity member who moved up to the Varsity team this year, scored her first try on Sunday. She emphasized the support each of the players receives. “I was really uncertain about myself and my confidence was low but … I just went out there knowing my teammates would have my back. So really, it’s not my try, it’s our try.”
Rose’s statement could not be more true. Eleven different players on the Martlets converted a try against Sherbrooke. Of those eleven, Miller, Marie-Helene Laforest, and Milda Sabiston each scored twice, while Casey Thorburn added a game-high three of her own.
The Marlets operated efficiently on the offensive end, running through their phases extremely well. If they were ever stopped by Sherbrooke, they did a fantastic job of rucking over, keeping the ball in their possession, and setting it back up. Sherbrooke had a tough time slowing down the McGill attack, as it seemingly took four of their players to bring down a sole Martlet. Capitalizing on this physical strength, McGill used quick, smart passing to find the open players and lanes on the field. Time and time again, McGill players sprinted uncontested to the middle of the goal posts, after strategically breaking through Sherbrooke’s defensive wall.
Coach Lavery stressed the change in his team’s offensive strategy. “We [are] changing the point of attack in our offence. For the first half of the season, we were running off our scrum half, and today we were running off of Miller,” he said. “It was a bit challenging to place this offence and run it in a game context and it got a bit scrappy at times, but they kept their structure and they had a lot of fun.”
While many tries were uncontested, there were points at which McGill’s play became a bit disjointed. At these times, the team’s leaders, like Miller, stepped up to work out the kinks in the Martlets’ game.
Nevertheless, evident from the result, McGill has begun to eliminate small, yet costly, mistakes. Looking ahead, the Martlets should figure to be a serious threat to any opponent they play during the remainder of the season. With the victory, the Martlets move to 2-1 on the season, and will head on the road to take on Bishop’s on Sept. 21. They will be back in action on friendly soil Sept. 30, when they play the Ottawa Gee Gees.