X-Women win battle of nationally ranked rugby teams with 36-17 victory over Axewomen

Photo credit Bryan Kennedy
Photo credit Bryan Kennedy

Antigonish, NS – In a battle of U SPORTS top 10 teams, the No. 2 StFX X-Women came out on top against the visiting No. 8 Acadia Axewomen with a 36-17 victory Saturday afternoon.

The match's opening minutes took place deep in Acadia territory. After a StFX knock-on off their own line-out, the Axewomen were awarded a scrum. The X-Women turned the ball over, but on the ensuing play, Acadia fell afoul of the referee. StFX scrum half Alison Blanchard (Herring Cove, NS) took a quick tap and a short pass to tight-head prop Joanna Alphonso (Ajax, ON) close to the line would yield only one result.

Minutes later, as a result of aggressive defence, the X-Women were awarded a scrum from about 10 metres out from the Acadia line. Fly-half Hannah Ellis (Halifax, NS) collected a pass from Blanchard and sliced through the Acadia backline and crossed over for StFX's second try. Fullback Danielle Franada (Grand Prairie, AB) slotted the conversion to give home team an early 12-0 lead.

Acadia's first try of the match was a fine example of their ability in the open field. Fifth year winger Maddie MacKenzie (Peterborough, ON) retrieved a kick inside her five-metre line near the sideline.  Isolated, she was able to elude a number of X defenders and made a brilliant offload from which the Axewomen lock Taryn MacLaughlan (Batawa, ON) was able to make a powerful 60 metre run down the middle of the field and touched the ball down underneath the posts.

After 25 minutes of play StFX regained their two-try advantage. Once again, X had a scrum near the Acadia try line and it was only a matter of time, or phases in this instance, before the X-Women would score a try. This time it was the turn of Olivia DeMerchant (Bedell, NB), who made a nice play near the try line at the base of the ruck and snuck over the line.

StFX's fourth try of the half came off a well-executed line-out. Danielle Cormier (Halifax, NS) found Sarah McCarron (Antigonish, NS) at second jumper and from there a strong maul led the X-Women to the Acadia line where DeMerchant took the ball over the Acadia line. The X-Women held a 22-5 lead at halftime.

Joanna Alphonso scored her second try of the game and the X-Women's first try of the second half.  Alison Blanchard took a quick tap and appropriately passed to Alphonso who had no trouble crossing the line. The try was, however, several minutes in the making. StFX's Hannah Ellis, recognizing open space just inside Acadia's half, made an excellent kick that gained the X-Women 20 metres of territory. From the Acadia line-out, X immediately put them under pressure, which would put the game out of sight for the Axewomen. Franada added the conversion to put StFX up 29-5.

The X-Women padded their lead when flanker Sophia Parker (Windsor, NS), who was excellent both in the tight and the loose, scored a deserved try. She calmly picked up the ball at the base of the ruck and powered over from ten metres out. Franada once again converted the try.

Down but not out, the Axewomen continued to play aggressive and dynamic rugby until the end. At the base of an Acadia scrum, the backs made a number of fine passes through the hands before substitute back Amanda Jardine (Greenwood, NS) crossed over in the corner.

The final try of the match came of the powerful run of loosehead prop and Acadia's player of the game, Emma Pfleiderer (Williams Lake, BC). The try was a result of excellent interplay between the Acadia forwards and backs as the marched down the field through a multiple phase displaying fine passing and offloading skill.  From an X penalty, Kennedy took a quick tap and made a great pass into the welcoming hands of Pfleiderer, who took a brilliant line and there was not stopping her en route to the end zone.  Kennedy coolly converted the try as the match closed out 36-17 in favour of the X-Women.

Emma Pfleiderer earned player of the game honours for the Axewomen while StFX's Olivia Demerchant was named the Subway player of the game for her efforts.

StFX next play host to UPEI on Friday, September 28th at 6:00 pm on Homecoming weekend at StFX Oland Stadium.

Acadia will face off against SMU, also on Friday, September 28th. Gametime is 7:00 pm in Wolfville.


Courtesy Bart Sears, StFX Sports Information

ACA 5-12: 17
StFX 22-14: 36 

First half
StFX – Joanna Alphonso try, 8th minute
StFX – Hannah Ellis try (Danielle Franada convert), 12th minute
ACA – Taryn McLachlan try, 18th minute
StFX – Olivia DeMerchant try, 24th minute
StFX – Olivia DeMerchant try, 31st minute 

Second half
StFX – Joanna Alphonso try (Danielle Franada convert), 48th minute
StFX – Sophia Parker try (Danielle Franada convert), 65th minute
ACA – Amanda Jardine try, 74th minute
ACA – Emma Pfleiderer try (Annie Kennedy convert), 77th minute 

Players of the Game
ACA – Emma Pfleiderer
StFX – Olivia DeMerchant

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