As expected, Boston won today's Northeast Club 7s Championship, putting 97 points and giving up 12 during pool play. What did come as a surprise, however, was the team's final's opponent: Middlesex, and not Old Blue.
|Boston is the NRU's first seed in Nationals, while Old Blue missed out and Middlesex claimed the second spot.|
The game of the day was certainly Middlesex's semifinal 26-5 win over Old Blue, and Boston expected the New York team to be its championship opponent once again.
"We have a young team, but we're very athletic," Middlesex coach Josh Smith. "Before our semifinal, we sequestered ourselves and said that we have to go 'em."
The weekend prior, Middlesex went 0-3 in pool play, and had some rehab to do last week as it prepared for the NRU championship.
"We committed ourselves to our defense, and our fitness is one of attributes," Smith said in advance of its final against Boston. "Boston's beat us pretty well every time we've faced them, but we're going to try and avoid contact - because that's where we can get into some trouble with them."
Middlesex wasn't outclassed in the first half of the final, but a couple of mistakes and good moves from Boston, whether punching the ball out of the ballcarrier's hand just before or try, or diving over the tryline from a quick penalty, ended in a 19-0 halftime lead for the eventual champions.
Boston opened it up in the second half, and saw multiple scores from Tournament MVP Kyle Marshall, who also slotted the conversions, as well as some shifty running and five-pointers from Brian Regal. Marcus McAlister also added a try, while Duran Vota and Derrick Wavomba played exceptionally well as per usual.
"We're playing better now at this point in the season than we have for the past couple of years," Boston coach Kevin Immonje. "We played some good games today, and are clicking as a unit on both offense and defense. We have a few things to work on, like our fitness, but we'll focus on that during training. We don't have any games lined up before nationals; the rest will be good for us physically and mentally."
Immonje was pleased that everyone picked up their game today, and insinuated that picking a top 12 for nationals will be difficult. The team will have to do without playmaker Mark Sutton, but the squad has excellent depth.
Immonje also had plenty of good things to say about Middlesex. "We were expecting Old Blue in the final, but that was a shocker of semifinal," the Boston coach said. "They're a bunch of young kids, some from college, who've been working together as a unit since last year. And they've got a great coach."
Surprise or not, both Boston and Middlesex are heading to San Francisco as the Northeast's two representatives.