Ali Baggott, University of Victoria

The Queen’s University Gaels secured a spot in the gold-medal game of the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship presented by title sponsors, Victoria Mitsubishi and Carson Automotive Group, and corporate sponsors Pemberton Holmes Ltd. and the Canadian Rugby Foundation after defeating hosts and 2017 silver medallists, the Victoria Vikes. The Gaels fought until the final minutes to win 15-8 at Wallace Field in Victoria on Nov. 22.

Queen’s scrum half Dylan Young kicked what proved to be the game-winning penalty kick with 15 minutes remaining in the match to help advance the Gaels to Sundays final. The OUA champions will face the UBC Thunderbirds who also posted a 2-0 record in the tournament after a win over Guelph earlier in the day.

“It was a very tough game today. We knew UVic was a strong side coming in,” said Dave Butcher, head coach of the Gaels. “We are really going to have to tidy up our play when we have ball in hand if we want to compete with UBC on Sunday. When you are bobbling and dropping the ball all the time it really interrupts the flow of your game, making it hard to play quick.”

The Gaels bullied the Vikes in the scrums throughout the whole game, causing messy ball when the Vikes were able to maintain possession and even causing a few turnovers to take back the ball.

“We didn’t execute well on our set pieces today,” said long-time Vikes head coach Doug Tate, a co-founder of this revamped national tournament.  You can’t give the amount of penalties we did today and expect to put up points. It felt like we never had the ball and never had the opportunity to attack them.”

High winds and the wet field conditions played a factor for both sides in this match. Both teams had several drop balls early in the game and as a Queen’s player was kicking for touch, the ball blew backwards behind the penalty mark and went out of bounds.

“The guys didn’t play very in the conditions today, ” added Tate. “We didn’t use the wind to our advantage at all.”

Gaels winger Sam Ibbotson touched down the first score of the game after picking off a pass in the Vikes backline. Ibbotson had nobody else to beat and, with a convert by Dylan Young, was able to give Queen’s a 7-0  lead with seven minutes remaining in the opening half.  Moments later, Victoria fly half Gradyn Bowd swung the ball out to fullback Brennig Prevost. Prevost carried the ball down to just outside the goal line but the Gaels forced a turnover in the breakdown to claim the ball back.

On the final play of the opening half, fifth-year Vike Kapi Vataiki received a pass from Bowd along the Queen’s goal line and rumbled in for the first Victoria score, cutting the Gaels’ lead to 7-5 at the break.

Queen’s found themselves threatening to score again early in the second half but Victoria kept the OUA champs at bay and forced a turnover in a ruck along their goal line before Bowd was able to relieve the pressure by finding touch with the boot.

Vikes scrum half Crosby Stewart drew a penalty which allowed Bowd to slot a penalty kick to give the Vikes their first lead of the game, 8-7 with 20 minutes to play. However, five minutes later Queen’s answered with a penalty kick of their own to seize back the lead off the foot of Young.

The Gaels scored their second try of the match with three minutes remaining when flanker Trevor Helgason plunged over the line after several phases along the Vikes goal line. The try eventually sealed what turned out to be a 15-8 victory for Queen’s.

The Vikes will need a win over New Brunswick on Nov. 23 under the lights at Centennial Stadium if they want to play for a bronze medal on Sunday. The Queen’s Gaels will face the UBC Thunderbirds in the tournament final on Nov. 25 with kick off scheduled for 1 p.m. pacific time.

All games are streamed live on the Rugby Canada facebook page, while scores, recaps and more are available at govikesgo.com/rugby. To purchase tickets for the championship, visit govikesgo.com/tickets.

GAME MVPs
VIC: #8 Nicholas Carson
QUE: #7 Alex Pipchuk

SCORING SUMMARY
1       2       F
QUE:         7       8      15
VIC:           5       3       8

FIRST HALF
23′: QUE Try- #11 Sam Ibbotson (Convert Dylan Young) 7-0 QUE
30′: VIC Try- #14 Kapi Vataiki (Convert Missed) 7-5 QUE

SECOND HALF

40′: VIC Penalty Goal- #10 Gradyn Bowd 8-7 VIC
45′: QUE Penalty Goal- #9 Dylan Young 10-8 QUE
57′: QUE Try- #6 Trevor Helgason (Convert Missed) 15-8 QUE

2018 CANADIAN UNIVERSITY MEN’S RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
VICTORIA, B.C.

Wednesday November 21
Pool A: UBC Thunderbirds (41) vs. Concordia Stingers (8)
Pool B: Queen’s Gaels (76) vs. New Brunswick Ironmen (5)

Thursday, November 22
Pool A: UBC Thunderbirds (34) vs. Guelph Gryphons (7)
Pool B: Queen’s Gaels (15) vs. Victoria Vikes (8)

Friday, November 23
Pool A: Guelph Gryphons vs. Concordia Stingers (4:00 p.m. – Centennial Stadium)
Pool B: Victoria Vikes vs. New Brunswick Ironmen (6:00 p.m. – Centennial Stadium)

Saturday, November 24
5th Place Game (2:00 p.m. – Wallace Field)

Sunday, November 25
Bronze Medal Game (11:00 a.m. – Centennial Stadium)
Gold Medal Game – Queen’s vs UBC (1:00 p.m. – Centennial Stadium)

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