Vikes fall to national champ Pandas

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It was a disappointing evening for the UVic women’s rugby team, as they started their two-game home stand with a 34-5 loss against the defending CIS Champions, the University of Alberta Pandas. 

It was a powerful display by the Pandas, led by captain Alanna Fittes. Despite strong performances from the Vikes’ Chelsea Marshall and Jaiden Parhar, the result was never in doubt. It’s the second loss of the season for the Vikes after losing to the University of Calgary Dinos on Sept. 21 by a score of 26-8. 

The game started poorly for the Vikes, who were exposed down the right side and gave up two tries within the first 10 minutes to the Pandas’ fullback Fittes. However, the Vikes were able to keep the score close, trailing 10-0 for the majority of play in the first half.

The first half would have been encouraging for the Vikes coaching staff, who saw their squad in a close game with the powerful Pandas. However, despite coming close to scoring on several occasions, the Vikes surrendered another try after losing possession off of a scrum in their defensive zone. The Vikes trailed the Pandas 17-0 at the halftime whistle. 

The second half brought more of the same for the Vikes and were quickly down 24-0 following another giveaway off of a scrum.

The Vikes scored their first points of the game just minutes later — Parhar split the Pandas’ defense with a forceful run, leading to the Vikes’ first try of the match.

The try sparked U of A back to life, and despite some spirited defending from the Vikes, the Pandas demonstrated why they are the favourites once again for the CIS title with some clinical attacking and yet another try, their fifth of the game.

The physical demand of having to defend for nearly the entire game clearly taxed the Vikes, and they were unable to mount any more sustained offensive pressure for the duration of the match. The Vikes dropped the game by a final score of 34-5.

There are plenty of positives to take from the game for the Vikes despite the score, with head coach Mark Hall happy with the overall performance.

“When you defend virtually all game it’s tough on the fitness [of the players],” said Hall, “and it’s hard to maintain that, but I think we did … it’s a pity they scored in the last play of the game, because that score would’ve been a decent score. 

With only two games remaining in the regular season for the Vikes, they will enter the game against the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns on Sep. 28 knowing that they need a win to salvage a .500 record this season.  

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