Mountaineers overcome sluggish start for rugby win

The game was in question for most of the afternoon, but Mohawk Mountaineers made it six wins in a row with a 26-12 decision over the Conestoga Condors in Ontario Colleges Athletic Association rugby at Mohawk Sports Park on Tuesday
(Oct. 21).

Mohawk needed less than four minutes to grab a 7-0 lead on Steve Johnston’s try, converted by James Cumpson. Conestoga got to within two points, about three minutes later with an unconverted try. The visitors then scored a converted try and led 12-7 at the half.

However, it was all Mountaineers from that point. Cumpson scored a try about 10 minutes into the second term and just missed the convert to tie the score at 12. Two minutes later, Chad Elliot scampered into the goal area and Cumpson converted for a seven-point Mohawk lead. The margin remained that way until the last five minutes when Cumpson scored his second try of the game and converted it.

Cumpson said Mohawk wasn’t focused at the start of the game. “People weren’t on their game, just not aware of what was going on, and there was not enough intensity. We talked about it at half time. Everyone needed to bring up the intensity and their whole level of play, be more focused on what’s going on, as opposed to just running around without your mind working too. And we were able to put together the Mohawk standard of rugby.”

Mohawk coach Alex Paris admitted the first half was really hard to watch. It was also uncomfortable because of the weather conditions on a cold and blustery afternoon. He didn’t feel the team had a good warmup and it took them a whole half just to get into the game. Then it was a different story.

“Rucking was definitely an issue for us in the first half, said Paris. “In the first half they were, in my opinion, killing the ball and it really slows down the way we play. In the second half we were able to get to the ball, ruck a little harder and move it around.”

The Mountaineers were relieved to score four tries in the game to secure a bonus point that puts them four points ahead of Humber, forcing the Hawks to beat Mohawk on Sunday afternoon in Etobicoke and get a bonus point if they entertain any thought of finishing ahead of the Mountaineers. Mohawk handed Humber its only loss so far, 18-15, on Sept. 20.

Playoff action starts next week and it all leads to the OCAA Championship Nov. 8 at Fletcher’s Fields in Markham.