The RSEQ-leading McGill Redmen squared off against the Sherbrooke Vert et Or in a Thursday night matchup at Percival Molson Stadium. The Redmen dominated from start to finish, posting a 43-3 victory. McGill’s James Wilson scored three tries and Cameron Perrin tacked on eight points en-route to the team’s fifth straight win of the season.
The Redmen are the clear favourites to win the rugby RSEQ Championship again this season, and have continued to impress sitting atop their conference with a 5-0 record.
McGill’s ability to set the tone of the match right from the opening whistle was on full display Thursday evening. Just under two minutes into the game, McGill’s Thomas Stokes, a rookie fullback from Vancouver, British Columbia, recorded a try to put the Redmen up 5-0. Third-year centre Hugo Peurois quickly followed up with his own try four minutes later to give McGill a 10-0 lead.
However, that quickly signaled the beginning of a scoring slump for the Redmen as they struggled against Sherbrooke’s mounting pressure. McGill was called for a number of penalties, breaking up the offensive rhythm and forcing the home team into uncharacteristically sloppy plays. Wilson scored once more for McGill at 28:54, while the Vert et Or’s Yannick Mailhot tallied Sherbrooke’s only points off of a penalty goal to close the half at 15-3.
Assistant Coach Ian Baillie said he believes that the squad still has room to improve in the technical aspects of the game, despite its spotless record.
“Our fundamentals are good [but] we’ve got to continue to work on basic skills,” Baillie remarked. “Primarily handling the ball—we still throw the ball a little poorer than we want to [….] Protecting the ball, handling the ball, [that’s something] we’ll continue to work on.”
It was clear that the Redmen wanted to re-establish control of the game as they came out of the locker room looking more engaged. Third-year wing Robert Ashe scored for McGill just 1:35 into the second half, scoring his second try of the season. The Redmen then proceeded to open up their lead, as the strong forward pack controled the flow of the game by dominating the rucks. McGill put the match after two more tries by Wilson and one additional try by centre Patrick Mulherin. Junior fullback Perrin scored on his last four conversion attempts to help ensure McGill’s victory.
The Redmen had previously played the Vert et Or in their first game of the season, scraping out a narrow 7-5 victory on Sept. 6. As a result, McGill entered this meeting with a fresh game plan for Sherbrooke.
“This is the second time around so you’ve seen everybody once already,” said Baillie. “We wanted to change things a little bit, wanted to hold onto the ball a little more [and] protect it a little better. [We wanted to] attack the middle of the field, draw them in, and then spread the ball wide. The first time we played them, we were going wide in the beginning so we wanted to change that.”
Now sporting an 11-game win streak dating back to last year including the RSEQ Championships the Redmen have only the highest expectations placed upon them this season.
“The aspiration is always to win each time you come out to play,” said Baillie. “What we want to do is continue to improve and continue to get better [….] Ultimately, our end goal is to host the final and see what we can do there.”
McGill has three regular season games remaining before the RSEQ playoffs. The team will play the winless Montreal Carabins (0-4) on Oct. 19 at Macdonald Campus for Homecoming Week.