By: Zack Noureddine

The Algonquin Thunder men’s rugby squad had hoped to end with an Ontario Colleges Athlete Association championship. Facing Trent on Nov. 10, they suffered defeat in the semi-final stage.

A try and a conversion were the difference as the Trent Excalibur claimed a 22-12 victory over the Thunder to proceed to the gold stage.

“They maintained a real good balance throughout the 90 minutes,” said Algonquin head coach Geoff Tomlinson of the Thunder. “Our defense was good; our attack was just as good. We only lost by 10 points and it came down to Trent having the final turnover. I feel it could have gone our way when looking at the tight result. We almost had another try.”

The Excalibur put the first touch on the scoreboard with an early try from lock David Wickham. The Thunder were quick to respond with a try from Eric Viera, converted by Cory Costantini. However, the Excalibur took the upperhand before the 45 minute mark, carrying a 12-7 lead in to the second half.

The Excalibur added to the lead with a run by Kevin Blunck before the Thunder took one last try by Ryan Surgenor in the final 10 minutes to draw a 17-12 score. It was fly half Graham Abbott who ensured a spot for the Excalibur in the OCAA championship match with a winning dive over the line to cap off the match. The Thunder men, although defeated, kept a tight score throughout the 90 minutes of play. Thunder captain Jeremy Nesbitt was injured and did not start, but he was present in support.

“I was very proud to see the team stick to the game plan,” said Tomlinson. “Despite the loss, the composure and effort was there in full effect. I can only hope it was a learning experience.”

Algonquin’s squad holds a 5-3 win/loss record; a .667 winning percentage, including the loss to Trent. They have only won once at home against the St. Lawrence Vikings at their season opener. Four other wins have been away, including the first OCAA crossover match against the Conestoga Condors.

The Thunder have put the loss behind them to prepare for the OCAA bronze game on Nov. 17. They will host the Seneca Sting. The home squad hopes to wrap up the season with a third-place finish.

“They know they can recover [from the loss],” said Tomlinson. “They are a very mature group. Third-place is not what every team hopes for, but at least we can end the season acknowledging our accomplishments.”