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Lancers bring home third rugby championship

by Nick Liard

Putting up a third straight men’s rugby banner in their gym is something special for Loyalist College. But it’s extra special for Cody Howie, who has been there for all three, and feels this was the toughest game yet.

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Loyalist Lancer Jesse Gunter slows an Algonquin Thunder player down by pulling on his shirt. Photo by Ashliegh Gehl.

“I feel pretty good about it,” said Howie. “This is probably the toughest game that we have had, this season and maybe even the last three seasons this was one of our toughest.”

The Lancers snuck out a win against a very determined and improved Algonquin Thunder squad. The Lancers won 15-7 this past Saturday at the Loyalist College field.

“The first time we played them we beat them pretty bad, but they came back with better defense,” said Howie. “I think they focused more on defense since the last game. Maybe more than they did focus on offence.”

It was the Thunder’s first season in the league. They finished with a record of 3-3. In the first game between the two teams, the Lancers won 35-12. This time around it was much closer and as the Thunder coach Geoff Tomlinson accepted his silver medal from president of the college Maureen Piercy, he said, “We will trade this one in next year.”

But for the moment, Loyalist is left to celebrate their victory.

“It feels awesome, I was only here for two of the championships, but I came from a high school that didn’t win anything, so it feels awesome,” said second-year Lancer Lucas Shillington.

Shillington was also named man of the match along with Phil Assad from Algonquin.

“It’s just as nice, I went out and played really hard and I’m glad I got it,” said Shillington.

The Lancers scored early scoring a try and conversion to go up 7-0.

Before the half the Lancers converted a penalty kick to switch ends up 10-0.

Shillington then plowed through the defense midway through the second half for his first try of the post season.

Saturday’s game was a complete opposite from the Lancer’s semi-final game against Georgian where they scored 62 points. With an offence that holds seven Division Two scoring records a high scoring game was expected. However the Lancer’s defense, which gave up only 53 points all season was key.

“Defense has been key all year,” said Shillington. “We got flat line defense, and that has been the key to our success.”

A late score by Algonquin prop Drake Andrews gave the Thunder a glimmer of hope, but the Lancers held on 15-7.

A three-peat is tough in sports. Since 1996, only Seneca College has strung together more than three straight.

“That was our goal at the start of the season, too three-peat,” said Lancer’s assistant coach Rob Cooke. “We knew it was going to be tough with all the people we lost from last year, and the new recruits coming in this year. They were kind of unproven, but they have learned the game quite well and proved it today.”

Three OCAA all-stars were recognized after the match. They were Loyalist’s Jesse Gunter and Conner McCann, and Bill Shaw from Algonquin.

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