X-Women advance to AUS rugby championship final with 29-21 win over Axewomen

Photo by Bryan Kennedy
Photo by Bryan Kennedy

(ANTIGONISH, N.S.) The U SPORTS no. 10-ranked STFX X-Women took home a 29-21 victory over the Acadia Axewomen Thursday night in the AUS semifinal playoff game in front of 500 fans at STFX Stadium. 

With the win STFX punched their ticket to the AUS championship game, along with a berth in the national U SPORTS championship being held at Universite de Laval Nov. 1 to 5. 

The AUS final is slated for next Wednesday, Oct. 25th at 2 p.m. in Charlottetown, P.E.I. against the first-place UPEI Panthers. 

To start the semifinal match, STFX controlled possession for the majority of the opening 10 minutes of the game and were rewarded for their efforts in the 12th minute when freshman Akwaima Akpan (Halifax, N.S.) touched down after a strong X scrum. Katie Murphy (Millville, P.E.I.) made good on the conversion and the home team took a 7-0 lead. 

The Axewomen answered back with a try of their own eight minutes later as veteran fifth-year fly half Katya Dondi (Caledon, Ont.) scored Acadia's first try of the game after sustained pressure in the X end. Sara Grant (Melrose, N.B.) converted to even the score. 

The X-Women scrummaging continued to be strong, powering Camryn Kleynhans (Wellington, Ont.) to touch down in the 30th minute. The unconverted try put the X-Women ahead 12-7 with the score holding up to halftime. 

On a similar play in the 54th minute, Kleynhans scored her second try of the game as the X scrum again powered their way across the try line. Murphy kicked her second conversion of the game to give the blue and white a 19-7 advantage. 

The X-Women continued their second half momentum and centre Jillian Griffth (Upper Tantallon, N.S.) had a long break through run for X that helped set up their fourth try of the game from Skye Koyote (Duncan, B.C.). Murphy converted to put the X-Women up 26-7. 

Acadia cut into the lead six minutes later as they stormed down field and newly subbed lock Jenna Gallant (Valley, N.S.) crossed the try line. Grant kicked her second convert of the game to close the gap to 26-14. 

STFX added some insurance points when Murphy kicked a penalty goal with a minute left in the game. The Axewomen wrapped up the scoring with a try from Kenzie Cecchetto (Newport, N.S.) in extra time. Grant's third convert brought the final score to 29-21. 

The X-Women will now advance to face the UPEI Panthers in the AUS championship game on Wednesday. The Panthers defeated the X-Women in the final AUS regular season game last weekend by a 25-22 score in Antigonish. Earlier in the season STFX defeated UPEI 43-26 on the Island.  

Game time for the final match is set for 2 p.m. Fans can stream the game live on AUStv.

Recap courtesy Krista McKenna, STFX Athletics 

ACA 7-14: 21 
STFX 12-17: 29 

First Half 
STFX – Akwaima Akpan try, 12th minute (Katie Murphy convert) 
ACA – Katya Dondi try, 20th minute (Sara Grant convert) 
STFX – Camryn Kleynhans try, 30th minute  

Second Half 
STFX – Camryn Kleynhans try, 54th minute (Katie Murphy convert) 
STFX – Skye Koyote try, 61st minute (Katie Murphy convert) 
ACA – Jenna Gallant try, 67th minute (Sara Grant convert) 
STFX – Katie Murphy penalty goal, 79th minute 
ACA – Kenzie Cecchetto try, 80th minute (Sara Grant convert)   

Players of the Game: 
ACA – Sara Grant (Melrose, NB) 
STFX – Sophie Beck (Fall River, NS) 

Try: 5 points 
Penalty goal: 3 points 
Convert: 2 points