Mountaineers sit atop OCAA with rugby championship

True to form, the Mohawk Mountaineers were crowned Ontario Colleges Athletic Association rugby champions on Saturday. Mohawk won the provincial title in a tense 11-7 win over Humber Hawks.

Mohawk, which completed the season with an unblemished record of nine wins against no defeats, had taken a 6-0 lead 30 minutes into the game, but soon after found themselves trailing 7-6 before they rallied.

CHAMPS: Mountaineers celebrate their OCAA provincial championship. (Photo: Ron Bernardo)
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Mohawk’s win was half of a double gold day for Hamilton schools. McMaster Marauders, playing in the Ontario University Athletics rugby final, beat Western of London at the same Fletcher’s Fields complex in Markham.

Mountaineers asserted themselves early with OCAA scoring champion James Cumpson (Stoney Creek) booting two penalty kicks (his only two this season) that would point Mohawk in the direction of repeating their only other rugby title, won in 2000.

But Adam Chianello’s (Woodbridge) try and Harry McLean’s convert would swing the momentum 7-6 in Humber’s favour. The defensive struggle won out over offensive might until 14 minutes into the second half.

TOUGH GOING: Mohawk pounded out a tough 11-7 win over Humber. (Photo: Ron Bernardo)
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Winger Zack Crocker (Guelph) would find some running room and utilize his speed to score the game-winning try. Cumpson’s convert failed on a rarely missed attempt. He made 27 during the regular season that saw the No. 8 top the scoring list with 59 points

Mohawk coach Alex Paris noted that the Humber team which played on Saturday, was a different squad that lost 46-22 to Mohawk in regular season play.

The return of injured players made them a formidable opponent, said Paris.

Mohawk which failed to make last year’s playoffs, not only won the provincial banner, but Paris was named OCAA coach of the year and centre Brian Pearman (Stoney Creek) was MVP of the gold medal game. He and Cumpson were named to the league all-star team.

Mohawk’s championship season ended a five-year run by Seneca which won the bronze medal game, defeating Peterborough Fleming, 13-12.