Axewomen pull out thriller

Jason Simmonds
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Gillis scores game-winning try late in second half

SUMMERSIDE – Jessica Gillis made the most of her final high school rugby game.

The Grade 12 student dove into the end zone to score the game’s only try late in the second half to spark the Three Oaks Axewomen to a hard-fought 7-0 win over the Charlottetown Rural Raiders in the gold-medal game of the P.E.I. School Athletic Association Senior AAA Girls Rugby League on Thursday night.

“It feels really good because it is probably the last year I will play (rugby), and it feels good to end it on a memorable note,” said the 17-year-old Gillis, who added it was definitely the biggest try she has scored in her career.

Taran Price kicked the convert to close out the scoring. Three Oaks then played strong defence the rest of the way until the final whistle, which set off a wild on-field celebration.

“It’s surreal,” said Gillis in describing the team’s emotions after the game. “It feels amazing.

“Last year, we lost to them (Raiders) in the final after beating them in the regular season, and it feels great to redeem ourselves.”

Defensive battle

The game featured a strong defensive battle. The Raiders pushed deep into the Axewomen’s zone a couple of times in the first half, but the Three Oaks defence held strong.

“It feels really good because it is probably the last year I will play (rugby), and it feels good to end it on a memorable note.” Jessica Gillis

“That’s been the story of our whole season to be honest,” added Axewomen head coach Matt Champion.

Then it was the Axewomen’s turn in the second half to come close on a couple of occasions. After a couple of close calls and the pro-Axewomen crowd at the Canada Games Field at Three Oaks chanting “Go Tosh Go,” Gillis was able to snap the scoreless tie.

“I picked it up off the ruck and pushed it forward,” explained Gillis. “But it was the forwards rucking real well on the previous play that set things up.”

Champion admitted he expected a close game between the two longtime rivals, and it didn’t disappoint.

“I’ve never seen a more even game,” assessed Champion. “I knew it was going to be back and forth the whole time for sure.

“We played Rural earlier this year, and it was the same type of game.”

Twitter.com/JpsportsJason

Organizations: Charlottetown Rural Raiders, P.E.I. School Athletic Association Senior AAA Girls Rugby League, Canada Games Field

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