Laval defeats McMaster in CIS rugby opener

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – The Laval Rouge et Or were able to capitalize on their opportunities in defeating the McMaster Marauders, 24-10, in the opening game for both teams at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Women’s Rugby Championship at Trent University Thursday.

McMaster had a chance to open the scoring midway through the first half. The Marauders were driving but were whistled for a knock-on inside the five metre line. Moments later, the Ontario University Athletics runners-up had another opportunity when they were awarded a penalty goal, but Cindy Nelles (Belleville, Ont.) narrowly missed the kick.

Four minutes later, Claudiane Renaud (Trois-Rivieres, Que.) got Laval on the board first with a penalty kick. Laval used the remainder of the first half to pressure the McMaster defense and tacked on two additional penalty goals from Renaud to head into the half leading 9-0.

Less than three minutes into the second half the Rouge et Or extended their lead when Charlotte Vallieres-Villeneuve (Quebec City) took a pass near the 22-metre mark and blew past the Marauder defense for the game’s first try.

“We took a while to get the machine running today,” said Laval head coach Bill McNeill. “Our team was able to take advantage of the opportunities we had late in the first half and early in the second and that helped us to today’s outcome.”

Renaud would add her fourth penalty goal of the contest before Natasha Turner (Rockcliffe, Ont.) would breathe life into the McMaster attack. With a Laval player serving time in the sin bin, Turner wasted no time in streaking through the defense for a try.

With time winding down, Nelles also found the score sheet for McMaster. This year’s 2011 CIS Rookie of the Year made a 20-metre run for a try to make the score 17-10 with roughly 13 minutes left.

As the Marauders tried to control the ball and score an equalizing try, their hopes were dashed when CIS All-Canadian Karen Paquin (Quebec City, Que.) was able to get around the corner of the McMaster defenders and over the try line to make the score 24-10.

The Marauders team battled through the remaining eight minutes of the contest, but their efforts were denied by the Rouge et Or.

“I’m proud of our players for battling for the full 70 minutes,” said McMaster head coach Cam Mitchell. “We did well to put points up and had some things that didn’t break our way, but there’s still lots of rugby left to be played.”

Player of the game honours went to Laval’s Dominique Laliberte-Martineau (Quebec City, Que.) and McMaster’s Turner.

The Marauders (0-1) now find themselves in need of a win when they take part in an OUA Championship rematch against the Guelph Gryphons in their second and last Pool B game, Friday. Laval will be rewarded with an off-day Friday as they get set to battle Guelph on Saturday.