Thunderbirds Lose Canada West Semi-Final to Powerhouse Alberta

Title: Thunderbirds Lose Canada West Semi-Final to Powerhouse Alberta
Date: October 19, 2012
Original Source: UBC Thunderbirds
Synopsis: Post-game recap for Oct. 19 Women’s Rugby game between UBC and Alberta.

The UBC Thunderbirds lost their Canada West semi-final game on Friday, 62-12 to Alberta.

The Thunderbirds had qualified for the Canada West playoff tournament with a victory last week over Victoria to finish with a 1-3 record, but their rank as the fourth seed meant their first round game was against the top-ranked and undefeated Bears. The Bears are also the host for the tournament, putting UBC in tough on the road.

Despite the 50-point margin, the game was an improvement for the Thunderbirds, who lost 58-3 to Alberta earlier in the year, and the game showcased some of the improvements the team has made since the start of the season. The ball pressure and turnovers created were especially strong points in today’s game.

Haley Glendinning (Kamloops, BC), Cassidy Gale (Regina, SK) and Sagal-Maria Kahin(Dunnville, ON) gave us lots of turnover ball and pressure,” said head coach Lesley McKenzie, who was also quick to note where the team can improve for Sunday. “We still feel the pressure to over-elaborate on good phases and as a result gave a lot of ball away in simple errors like high running in contact, or casual passes.”

The Thunderbirds got tries from centre Paniz Pahlavanlu (Port Moddy, BC, who has recently transitioned from flanker, and wing Ciara Malone (Delta, BC), as well as a convert from Cather Ohler (Calgary, AB), but it wasn’t enough to withstand Alberta’s conference-leading offense. Gabrielle Hindley (Guelph, ON) also stood out at a new position, playing nine, which is not her normal spot.

Alberta is a much bigger team compared to UBC, who get by on their speed and execution. The Bears got three tries from Paige Farries and five converts from Allison Fairbairn to lead the way. This game gives Alberta 252 points for to just 58 against in five games, which are both the strongest marks in the conference.

“U of A is a very good, very athletic team. They play our style of rugby but with a few more years and a few more pounds on us,” McKenzie explained. “They should do well in the final.”

The other semi-final match, between Calgary and Lethbridge, is still in progress. Alberta will face the winner on Sunday for the Canada West Championship. The Canada West champion will then advance to the CIS championship in Nova Scotia Nov 1-4.

The Thunderbirds will look to close out their season on a high note with a third-place finish on Sunday. They face the loser of the Calgary and Lethbridge battle at 11 a.m. on Sunday at Ellerslie Rugby Park in Edmonton in the bronze medal game. UBC has previously lost to Calgary 76-10 and Lethbridge 30-3.

Canada West women’s rugby championship
Day 1 – Game 1 Ellerslie Rugby Park
Alberta Pandas vs. UBC Thunderbirds

1         2        Final
UofA-   31       31          62
UBC-     5         7          12

AB tries: #14 Paige Farries (3), #2 Carmen Hobbs, #9 Chelsea Guthrie, #10 Allison Fairbairn, #11 Hayley Sandboe, #12 Jen Cousineau, #13 Caitlin Huggard and #28 Sara Haring.
AB converts: #15 Rebecca Fairbairn (5) and #8 Miranda Monty

UBC tries: #14 Ciara Malone and #12 Paniz Pahlavanlu
UBC convert: Catherine Ohler

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