Top Of The Heap! First Girls Rugby Finish as Undefeated CISAA Champions!

On Saturday, May 26th, the 1st Girls’ rugby team welcomed the Trinity College Bears to the Tiger’s Den in the CISAA Division 1 Gold-medal final. Despite feeling drained from the heat and the hot sun, and after competing in numerous Sports Day events earlier, the Tigers felt ready to claim their 2nd Division title in 3 years, after having won Silver in the championship game last season against Appleby College.
Right from the opening whistle it seemed the Bears had come to steal the win, and every ruck, maul, tackle, and hit proved critical in the battle for dominance and momentum. Ridley scored first, after a beautiful break back to the inside on a backline run from Katherine Culligan, and she stormed to within a few scant yards of the goal-line before being brought up short by the stalwart defenders. A quick off-load pass to Adebimpe Ireyomi proved timely, however, as the Bears were unable to make the necessary defensive adjustment, and Ireyomi powered over the line for the score, right under the posts. Cassidy Filion made no mistake on the conversion attempt, slotting the ball neatly between the uprights, and Ridley led 7-0. The Tigers maintained the upper hand in momentum, and another deep drive into Bears’ territory bore fruit, as Cassidy Filion finished off a concerted team effort and dove over the line for a score of her own. The conversion attempt proved unsuccessful, and the Tigers led 12-0. On the next kick-off, the Tigers again ran hard at the Bears’ defensive line, and a beautiful set of successive rucks and multi-phase play allowed Idara Okon to muscle her way across the goal line for another Ridley score in the corner. A tough kick for Filion, and the conversion fell short. 17-0 Ridley. The Bears’ at this point could have packed it in, but they were made of sterner stuff, and they launched a flurry of attacks of their own, driving ever deeper into Ridley territory. A last gasp defensive effort by Ridley failed, and the Bears’ were on the scoreboard – 17-5. On the ensuing kick-off, Ridley stripped the ball from TCS, and again marched upfield, establishing another strong multi-phase set of clean possession, managed expertly by Madi Wanklyn at Scrumhalf. Idara Okon managed a break out wide, and came within a foot of crossing the goal line, but was held up short by the Bears’ defenders. The ball was once again fed back expertly, and Victoria Dabanovich-O’Mahony took the ball at pace and muscled her way through two defenders before diving over the line for a score of her own. Ridley now led 22-5. The Bears, again, came right back, attacking relentlessly, aided by a number of penalties conceded by a stretched Ridley defensive line, and TCS scored once more, adding a conversion kick to bring the score to 22-12. With half-time beckoning, Ridley needed to reclaim the momentum, and Adebimpe Ireyomi received the ball from just within her own half and used her incredible speed to outpace the entire Bears’ backline in a loop towards the sidelines before breaking back in and scoring under the posts. Cassidy Filion slotted the easy convert, and Ridley led at half-time by a 29-12 margin. Many teams would have quit at this point, but the Bears just kept on coming at the onset of the 2nd half. A determined push by Trinity, once more aided by a number of careless penalties by Ridley, resulted in a quick score, cutting the lead to just 12 points – 29-17. Idara Okon again took control of the ball, and Ridley stormed back for a score of their own, extending the lead to 34-17. Still the Bears would not quit, and again they threatened the Ridley line, requiring the Tigers line to make tackle after desperate tackle. A strong counter-ruck by the forwards stole the ball for the Tigers, spoiling the Bears’ drive, and Carmen Elliott received the ball in her own half and set off on a desperate run, managing to turn the corner on the Bears’ line and race down the sideline. The Bears’ fullback came sweeping across to defend, but a quick and timely side-step to the inside evaded the fullback, and two more Bears’ defenders made desperate tackle attempts, causing Elliott to stumble, yet remain on her feet, and she dove across the Bears’ goal line for a timely and magnificent score. Cassidy Filion successfully converted, and the Tigers seemed comfortably in the lead, 41-17. Yet still the Bears came back, trying desperately to score in the dying minutes, and another powerful drive proved too much for the Ridley defense, with a TCS try bringing the score back slightly to 41-22. At last the final whistle blew, and the Tigers walked off the field having earned the title in an extremely hard-fought and close contest, not reflected by the final score at all. This has been an incredible season for the 1st Girls’ rugby team, and the future looks bright, with a slew of players set to return for the 2019 campaign. The team does, however, bid farewell to some incredible leaders and talented graduating players, whose shoes will be extremely hard to fill. Our sincere thanks, congratulations, and well-wishes go out to the Gr.12 players, who will be sorely missed: Cassidy Filion, Victoria Dabanovich-O’Mahony, Idara Okon, Charlotte Westcott, Brittany Ng, Julia Evans, Marie Elena Goddard, Sabrina Smith, Dasha Terekhova, Mirabelle Kuku, Nita Akoh, Natanya Dara, Mary Bajela, and Clarabelle Ahiadeke. Come back and visit us ladies! Congratulations on a great season Tigers! You were a joy to coach…