Charlottetown, PE - The Panthers knew Saturday's match against the U SPORTS No. 2 ranked StFX X-Women wasn't going to be easy and the 69-5 score reflected that, but there was still plenty of positives to take away.
"We went in wanting to win the little battles," said Panthers head coach John LaBoyne. "They [StFX] probably have the best scrum in all of Canada and they didn't push us around. We won our scrums in the first half and they actually had to adjust to us because we were dominating them."
The heart and fighting spirit never waivers with this team, but it's the fine details that need to be worked on in order to get to the championship level of StFX.
"We need to perfect the patterns – the way we throw the pass," LaBoyne said. "We know what we have to do, we just weren't clicking on all cylinders."
But there were signs that the system LaBoyne and assistant coach James Voye developed works, especially when rookie Brinten Comeau took a nice feed from a teammate and found an open hole for the team's only try of the day. And the Panthers are hoping to build off that.
"It tells them that the pattern does work and that you can run it against the best defence in Canada. We just have to work on it a little harder," he said.
The X-Women, meanwhile, are preparing for their inevitable trip back to nationals – which are hosted by rival school Acadia – where they hope to earn their fifth title in eight years. For head coach Mike Cavanagh's squad, the game was another stepping stone toward that goal.
"I was really happy with the way our defence played," he said. "It's never easy to come to P.E.I. and match their physicality."
Cavanagh's offence was equally impressive, scoring six tries in the first half and five more in the second. Carleigh Walters led the way with three, while Amelia Hatfield and Sophie Parker scored a pair each. Rounding out the scores were Alison Blanchard, Lucy Killacky, Alexandra Hamilton and Katherine Brennan with a try each.
Now they're turning their attention to the tough Axewomen in next weekend's highly anticipated tilt.
"We're both top five teams in the country," Cavanagh said. "We've been playing around with our lineup and it'll be the first time we'll have all our best players out there."
The Panthers will head back on the road to take on the Saint Mary's Huskies on Sept. 23 at 2 p.m.
Courtesy Thomas Becker, UPEI Sports Information