The Mid-Atlantic South DII men’s club league came down to the final match of the season, played this past weekend.
The Washington Irish, which went into the game 3-4, defeated Richmond, who had entered the game 5-2, to take 2nd in the league. The Irish managed this, despite having a worse record than Richmond, by virtue of the bonus points they earned. The Irish got a bonus point for four tries in the 27-19 victory, but the hard work was done through the season, when they earned a bonus point for a close loss in every single game they lost.
With six four-try bonus games, and four close-loss bonus games, they outstripped Richmond by a point, 26-25, to secure a home playoff game.
The Irish were led on offense by veterans Jon Hansen and Mark Seiss. They helped stake the Irish to a big lead, but it was the defense that held on late as Richmond mounted a comeback.
“It looked like we were going to win the game, but we needed the try bonus point to put us over the top,” said Washington captain Christopher Brandenburg. “Mark intercepted a long swing pass with no time remaining and ran it back under the posts for the bonus try.”
That put them over the top, but the defense had a hand in it, too.
Flanker Ian Pope led the way for the forwards, coming up with big hits all afternoon, while scrumhalf Luke Hammock played a great game, and made some key cover tackles on bigger players.
“In the next month before our playoff game we really want to focus on cutting down on the mental mistakes that led to penalties,” added Brandenburg. “We are getting consistently better each week at practice and it is showing on Saturday, but there are things we can work on to help us come playoff time. We want to fine-tune our set plays and increase our effectiveness on defense.”
What the Irish have demonstrated, however, is a no-quit attitude. That ensured they stayed close in almost every game. Of their four wins, two were by less than a try, and all four of their losses (as stated) were that close as well. If they hadn’t stayed close in the losses, they would be on the road in April.