Hope arrived two minutes from the final whistle, as McMaster drew within a try of Queen’s and faced the prospect of one final possession.
But it proved to be too little, too late for the Marauders, as the Gaels hung on for a 29-24 win and a berth in the OUA final, while McMaster was consigned to a bronze medal game on home turf.
Flanker Katie Svoboda led Mac with a pair of tries in the loss, while her sister Sara added a try and a pair of converts. Taylor Price completed the scoring by crossing the line once.
The result means that the Marauders will host one final game in 2018, as they play host to the Brock Badgers in the OUA bronze medal game at Ron Joyce Stadium on Friday, October 19.
Brock was similarly consigned to the bronze after a 97-12 blowout loss to the defending OUA champions, the Guelph Gryphons, Saturday.
It didn’t take long for the Gaels to draw first blood at Nixon Field, as Camille Irvine found paydirt for the game’s opening try in the eighth minute, with Nadia Popov converting for 7-0.
McMaster was able to level midway through the half, when the Svoboda’s connected after a won scrum and Katie carried Sara’s pass over the try line in the 21st minute. Sara successfully converted moments later for 7-7.
Momentum was fleeting for the Marauders, however, as Popov took matters into her own hands to restore the Gaels lead in the 31st minute, and repeated as the scorer eight minutes later, as Queen’s took a 17-7 advantage into the halftime break.
Stringing together a series of short rucks, McMaster found its second try of the game eight minutes after the resumption of play, with Price providing the finish for 17-12.
But a breakdown in defence cost the Marauders dearly eight minutes later, as Sophie de Goode was able to snatch an errant ball and run 80 yards to the line to swell the hosts’ lead to 10 points at 22-12.
It was a Svoboda that moved McMaster back into striking distance, as Sara crafted her lone try of the afternoon for 22-17 in the 69th minute. But Queen’s was quick to respond yet again, and Pippi McKay crossed the try line just three minutes later with Popov providing a convert for 29-17.
The Marauders made things interesting in the final minutes when Katie Svoboda punched through a ruck at short range for her second try in the 78th minute, and sister Sara nailed the convert, to bring McMaster within five.
But that was as close as the visitors would come, as their final, ensuing possession fizzled out and the referee blew a halt to proceedings.
NEXT UP: McMaster hosts Brock in the OUA bronze medal game at Ron Joyce Stadium on Friday, October 19 at 7:00 p.m.
Source: Fraser Caldwell