Thunderbirds Fall to Pronghorns in Canada West Bronze Match

Title: Thunderbirds Fall to Pronghorns in Canada West Bronze Match
Date: October 21, 2012
Original Source: UBC Thunderbirds
Synopsis: Post-game recap for Oct. 21 Women’s Rugby game between UBC and Lethbridge.

The UBC Thunderbirds closed out their 2012 season on a low note Sunday, losing 60-7 to Lethbridge in the Canada West bronze medal match.

On Friday, UBC had fallen to top-ranked Alberta, while Lethbridge lost to Calgary. Later on Sunday, Alberta defeated Calgary 20-12 to earn the Canada West championship and a bid to the CIS championships in early November in Nova Scotia. The Thunderbirds, meanwhile, finish fourth out of five teams in the conference.

For UBC, the loss wraps up a 1-5 season that focused on development and gaining experience for the young team. Head coach Lesley McKenzie worked with seven freshmen and just a pair of seniors on the squad, making them not just one of the smallest but also one of the least experienced squads in Canada West. With that in mind, McKenzie is pleased with how the season turned out, especially the showing the team had against some of the country’s best units this weekend.

“I’m really proud of a lot of the things we do,” shared McKenzie. “The scrums were truly awesome. Our scrum was the most dominant in the tournament.”

The game itself was a bit disappointing, as UBC had hoped to showcase the improvements they had made since their 30-3 loss to the Pronghorns in September. Instead, Lethbridge opened the flood gates in the second half, turning a tight 12-0 halftime lead into a 53-point margin of victory in the end.

The Pronghorns were led by Brandi Van Eeuwen’s four tries and Laura Murphy-Burkes four converts. The bigger and more physical Pronghorns proved too much in the end for the Thunderbirds, who thrive when games are close but can struggle to keep up in offensive shootouts.

“At half time Lethbridge went to the bench for more beef, we don’t have that luxury,” McKenzie explained. “So they brought bulk to the second 40 minutes, and we didn’t have the bench to counter that, and our fatigue allowed them to run at us.”

UBC received a try from Clara Malone (Delta, BC) for the second time in the tournament, as well as a convert from Catherine Ohler (Calgary, AB).

The team will now look to build on the experience from this season and mature as a group, while also looking to add some size and strength. The team will focus on adding depth to help maintain their strong first halves into the second halves, as well.

“Going forward will be about developing impact depth. Our first fifteen can compete, but we don’t have the size to bang around with the Canada-West teams for the full 80 without the added impact at half time,” said McKenzie. “This would be a different story back east. “

The team is anticipating returning most of their key players while also adding some exciting new recruits, hoping to continue the upward trend this year proved to be after a winless 2011.Cassidy Gale (Regina, SK), Haley Glendinning (Kamloops, BC), Megan Hamm (Aldergrove, BC) and Carolyn McEwen (St. George, ON) in particular, could be impact players for the Thunderbirds moving forward.

What was a green team in 2012 is sure to be much improved for the 2013 season.

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