Written by Alex Goff    Sunday, 04 November 2012 17:22    PDF Print Write e-mail
Upsets Shake Up MARFU League
Clubs - Men's DI Clubs

The playoff picture in the Mid-Atlantic Men’s DI Club competition was shaken up considerably after this weekend’s results.

Norfolk came into the weekend at 1-4 and seemingly out of playoff contention. But the Blues shocked 4-2 Pittsburgh to put themselves squarely in the conversation.

Meanwhile, Baltimore-Chesapeake jumped to 4-3 after pulling off something of an upset of their own, beating the Maryland Exiles 18-10 to give Maryland their first loss of the season.

That result virtually guaranteed PAC another MARFU title, but threw the next three playoff spots into some confusion, with five teams still in the hunt.

One team that is now out of it is NOVA. The Virginia team started the season so well, but were beaten by Media 48-22 in their final league game, meaning they can finish no higher than 6th.

Most teams have struggled to perform on the road this year, and Norfolk Head Coach Chris Porter says that could be because several clubs are going through transition and bringing in young players.

“In DI club rugby you really have to commit to playing on the road, and I think some teams are struggling with that,” Porter said.

Certainly the Blues have struggled with player turnover, as retirements, injuries, and work commitments have pulled players away. The Blues visited Pittsburgh with 16 players, and came away with a huge league win.

“I told the guys they really have nothing to lose,” said Porter. “And they started to play like it. “We’ve been really close in some games, and I thought that if we relaxed a little more, played a little looser, we’d maybe pull one out. That’s what happened.”

No. 8 Ben Wallace and center Gus Jones, part of Norfolk’s new “Clemson Connection” were superb on the day, while Mike Fussell and Doug Holmes scored tries and John Cameron added two penalties and a conversion.

For Holmes it was a big day. Making his debut with the 1st XV, he nabbed a lineout and rumbled five meters to score what turned out to be the game-winner.

Two tries, two penalties, and a conversion was the formula for Baltimore as well.

“We knew Maryland plays great defense so we worked very hard to make sure our defense was solid,” said B-C Head Coach Steve Elliott. “Maryland were without their first-string scrumhalf and flyhalf, and I don’t know how that hurt them, but our guys really communicated well and defended well.”

Leading the Brumbies was lock Dan Randow, who was a monster around the fringes, and flyhalf Jamie Pierce-Williams organized the defense well from flyhalf. Fullback Pat Foley did the rest, kicking eight points and scoring a try in the victory.

“What we’re looking at now is that the season is one game,” said Elliott. “Our next game is our season. If we win that, then the next game is our season. We have to look at it that way.”

Porter at Norfolk said the same thing.

“We can’t look ahead to any game other than the next one.”

What they have is this:
Baltimore-Chesapeake goes on the road to Raleigh and then hosts Pittsburgh. They need to win both to be sure of a playoff position, but could get away with just one victory if other things fall their way.

Norfolk plays winless Washington at home, and then Media (2-6), also at home. Those seem very winnable games, and could put the Blues at 4-4 with one game left.

That one game is against Maryland and was postponed from last weekend. It will be played next spring.

“That’s one good thing from that,” said Porter. “We hope to be playing a meaningful game next year, and win or lose, that’s like a playoff game.”

Notes: Schuylkill River at Washington was postponed after a car accident involving the SR team. No one was hurt but they were shaken up and the game was called off. Pittsburgh, now at 4-3, plays two playoff-hopeful teams in Schuylkill and then Baltimore over the next two weeks. Those games could well decide much of the playoff picture. Saturday’s PAC v Maryland game is still important, but PAC can still lose it and finish 1st, and if they take two bonus points, then they clinch.

MARFU Men DI Clubs W L T Pf Pa Pd BT BL Pts
PAC 7 0 1 360 142 218 7 0 37
Maryland 6 1 0 193 117 76 4 0 28
Schuylkill River 5 2 0 145 117 28 3 0 23
Pittsburgh 4 3 0 229 156 73 4 2 22
Balt-Chesapeake 4 3 0 227 233 -6 5 0 21
NOVA 3 5 1 206 292 -86 4 1 19
Norfolk 2 4 0 160 109 51 3 2 13
Raleigh 2 5 0 141 192 -51 3 1 12
Media 2 6 0 207 307 -100 4 0 12
Washington 0 6 0 142 297 -155 4 1 5


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