A clash of all-stars will decide women’s OUA rugby title

The McMaster Marauders are out to stop the Guelph Gryphons from winning a sixth Ontario University Athletics women’s rugby championship in seven seasons when the two teams meet at Ron Joyce Field in Hamilton at 4 p.m. on Saturday (Oct. 25).

(Photo: Fraser Caldwell/McMaster Athletics)

(Photo: Fraser Caldwell/McMaster Athletics)

Last year the Gryphons were defeated by the Queen’s Gaels in the OUA championship, marking the first time Guelph had lost an OUA game since the 2007 season. The Gryphons got revenge last weekend in the semi-finals, though, beating Queen’s, 29-21, led by two tries from leading scorer Jennifer Dunn (West Vancouver, B.C.).

Guelph finished first in the Shiels Division this season with 19 points and a 3-0-2 record and has five OUA all-stars on its roster. Three all-stars in 2013 made a repeat appearance in 2014: fourth-year flanker Brittany Priddle (Badjeros, Ont.), fifth-year inside centre Shannon Spurrell (Haley Station, Ont.), and fourth-year second row Brittany Kassil (Guelph).

Third-year lock Devon Stober (Mississauga, Ont.), and second-year centre Rita Charest-Pekeski (Barrie, Ont.) made their first all-star appearances.

Though McMaster has never won an OUA women’s rugby championship, the Marauders stack up incredibly well against the Gryphons. Like Guelph, the Marauders also won their division putting together a 4-0-1 season, and advanced past the perennially tough Western Mustangs in convincing fashion with a 24-10 win in the semi-finals. McMaster burst out to a 17-3 first-half lead and never looked back.

The Marauders also lay claim to five players named 2014 OUA All-Stars. Fourth-year number 8 Cindy Nelles (Belleville, Ont.) and fourth-year centre Emily Ricketts (Oakville, Ont.) each made the all-star team for a second straight season. Nelles led the Marauders in scoring with 25 points coming off five tries. Two first-year Marauders were named all-stars; flanker Sara Svoboda (Belleville, Ont.) and lock Abigail Moody (Toronto) put together very impressive rookie campaigns. Third-year scrum-half Heidi Henderson (Stirling, Ont.) rounds out the Marauders all-star cast.

If the regular season is any indication, expect a close matchup on Saturday; the two teams played to a 27-27 draw when they met on Sept. 28 in Hamilton.

With Guelph playing host to the 2014 national championship, both teams will automatically receive berths in the national championship, however, seeding will be determined based on the results of Saturday’s match.

The bronze medal game between the Gaels and Mustangs will decide which team gets the OUA’s third and final berth at the national championship. Queen’s, the defending OUA champions, finished second in the Russell Division behind McMaster and travels to London on Saturday for a 4 p.m. game. Western finished third in the Shiels Division with a 2-3-0 record.

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