The University of Victoria Vikes women’s rugby team won a physical affair over rivals the UBC Thunderbirds 28-10 on Oct. 4. The victory moves the Vikes to 2-1 on the season, while the T-Birds ultimately fall to 0-2-1 with the loss.
After both teams entered the half-time break with a try, the Vikes took the momentum with strong defence and speed out wide. Gabrielle Senft scored a pair on the day to go along with tries fromMadeleine Graham and first-year Ciel Arbour-Boehme, who came on in the second half as a substitute.
Speedy winger Ciara Malone continued her positive scoring pace this season with a first half try while Jenn Blume added the T-Birds’ second. The T-Birds had multiple opportunities deep within the Vikes’ area, but were unable to penetrate the defensive line.
“We held them in our twenty-two for lots of the game,” said Vikes women’s rugby head coach Brittany Waters. “We work a lot on our defence during training, so seeing the girls dig deep was great to see.”
The game started out as a physical affair with no scoring through the first 20 minutes. Both teams passed off possession to one another in the middle of the field for the majority of the first half.
The Vikes broke through first about 15 minutes to half time when Graham finished off a great overlap passing play down the middle of the field to give the Vikes the lead. Jess Neilson stepped up and nailed the convert through the uprights to make it 7-0 in favour of the Vikes.
The T-Birds reduced the deficit at the stroke of half-time. After the ball was held up in the end zone, the T-Birds pushed back with multiple sets forward trying to penetrate the Vikes defensive line. The T-Birds swung the ball out wide on the overlap before Ciara Malone touched it down in the back left corner of the end zone. The convert would be missed, and the whistle would blow for half-time with the Vikes ahead 7-5.
Just as the T-Birds ended the first half with a try, the Vikes answered back with one in the first minute of the second half. Senft stole the ball from the T-Birds and ran in uncontested to touch down the ball between the posts for the 14-5 Vikes’ lead.
After first-year Ciel Arbour-Boehme came on as a substitute for Jaiden Parhar, Boehme made an immediate impact by running the Vikes’ third try of the game on a strong run into the end zone. The Vikes would score the convert to make it 21-5.
The T-Birds battled all game with the Vikes defence in close quarters to the Vikes’ end zone. With ten minutes remaining, Blume drove through the Vikes defensive line to touch down their second try and make the score 21-10. The Vikes were sin-binned on the play as well, setting the stage for a nervy final ten minutes.
Just as Caitlin Harvey returned to the field, the Vikes put the game out of reach after Senft finished off a fantastic three-quarter field run from Chanelle Edwards-Challenger down the wing. Senft took the offload on the T-Birds’ line and easily touched it down for the 28-10 lead.
The Vikes would hold on to that scoreline and rebound from last week’s 27-10 loss to the Dinos.
“We’re very happy with the result,” said Waters. “We were a bit slow to begin the second half but we came back and started dominating the contact zones, especially the scrums. It set us up a great platform to use our backs to run and they couldn’t catch us after that.”
The Vikes take a weekend off before hosting the Alberta Pandas on Oct. 18 at Wallace Field. The T-Birds wrap on Oct. 16 at Thunderbird Stadium, also against the Pandas.
UVIC: 7 – 21 : 28
UBC: 5 – 5 : 10
UVIC: J. Neilson (4C), G. Senft (2T), C. Arbour-Boehme (1T), M. Graham (1T)
UBC: C. Malone (1T), J. Blume (1T)
UVIC: C. Harvey (yellow card)