Gryphons take down Hawks in OUA semi finals
After moving up to fifth in the National Coaches Poll, and defeating the Waterloo Warriors in the OUA quarterfinals, the Golden Hawks men’s rugby team had a challenge ahead of them in the Guelph Gryphons; a rematch of last season’s OUA finals.
From the first whistle to the last, the Gryphons poured pressure on the Hawks. Early in the game, the Gryphons took advantage of a misplay on the Hawks’ lineout to open the scoring.
Guelph overpowered the Hawks in the scrums, forcing the visitors to lose ground and possession. After both sides played a rather mid-field game, another try would put the Gryphons up 12-0.
Similar to the first try of the game, the Hawks this time capitalised on Guelph’s lineout error as Dylan Di Girolamo scooped up the ball, broke free from multiple tackles, and found the try-zone.
Adam McNee set up the Hawks next try perfectly with a well placed kick deep in Gryphons territory where Dougal Graham powered through to score. McNee would find the uprights and tie the game at 12 going into the half.
A stark difference to the quarterfinal match where the Hawks could not produce in the first half but dominated the second, they could not keep up with the Gryphons in the next frame. Guelph scored four consecutive tries to go up 40-12.
Ethan Voskamp used the rain to his advantage as the ball skipped past a Gryphon and sped into the tryzone, while McNee put up the extra two points.
However, with time running down, the Gryphons put the game out of reach in the 76th minute, tacking on seven more points. Despite the deficit, the Hawks did not let it hamper their efforts. Wyatt Brown scored the final try of the game in extra time, but it would not be enough to level the score.
The Hawks end their season in the OUA semifinals to rival Guelph by a score of 47-26.
Coach Phil Murphy praised his team for the valiant effort.
“We never backed down, we never took our foot off the gas. We made a couple of errors, but it’s how we react. [The guys] reacted very well, and they scored those extra tries.”Coach Phil Murphy
On the topic of not giving up, Murphy said, “It’s a testament to the character of the players… It puts them in good stead for life, to never back down, to never stop trying your hardest.”
The loss does not depict a season failed, rather one where coaches and players alike gained valuable skills to carry over to next season, and for graduating athletes, to take with them into their next chapter.
Murphy, in his second season as head coach, has already built a winning mentality into the program with his focus on worrying about the journey, not the destination.
“Onwards and upwards.”