Recap by Trinity Western Spartans
Trinity Western fell 32-31 to Guelph in Sunday’s bronze medal match in the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championships at Thunderbird Stadium.
The Spartans were boosted by two tries from both Ethan Jurgeneit (Bracebridge, Ont.) and Lynden Duggan (Burnaby, B.C.), who earned player of the game honours at the event.
Matthew Willemse (Pietermaritzburg, South Africa) chimed in with six points from the tee, converting on three of five TWU tries on the day.
After a cagey opening few minutes, the game exploded into life with a series of tries and lead changes. Guerschom Mukendi went over for an unconverted Guelph try in the 9th minute but their lead was to last less than two minutes as Lynden Duggan picked up a kick and tore up the left wing to go over for the tying try. Willemse kicked the conversion to give the Spartans their first lead of the afternoon.
The Gryphons stormed back and Aidan Vachon went over the line from close in the 16th minute for Guelph’s second try of the half. Kobe Faust made no mistake with the conversion then kicked a penalty five minutes later to make it a two score game.
Trinity Western got one of those scores back in the 24th minute when Jurgeneit took a short pass and drove over the line for a try, which Willemse converted, and that was how the teams went in at the half.
The Spartans came out strong to start the second and nearly broke through on a couple of occasions, but were thwarted by a resolute Gryphons defensive display. The B.C. side finally got their reward in the 36th minute when the ball came out to Connor Bernardin on the left wing and he put on a burst of speed to go over for the go-ahead try, which Willemse was unable to convert.
Trinity Western weren’t allowed to enjoy their lead for long as Guelph went back ahead four minutes later after quickly recycling the ball and getting it out to Brenden Black, who carried it over and touched down in the middle of the in-goal affording Faust the easy conversion for the Gryphons to go back ahead by three.
Three minutes later though and the Spartans were back in front after a nice passing move saw Duggan go over for his second try of the afternoon, which Willemse converted.
Guelph responded once again with Michael McCartney carrying over the try line. Faust’s conversion attempt just missed to the outside of the right upright to give the Gryphons the narrowest of leads by a single point with 10 minutes left to play.
That lead increased to six points in the 55th minute with Owen Williams’ unconverted try, setting up the thrilling conclusion of Jurgeneit’s last ditch try and Willemse’s missed conversion, to give the Gryphons the win by a solitary point.