The Boston Irish Wolfhounds may have made the DI club semis last year, but Head Coach Fergal Hehir wasn’t sure what he might get out of his team this year, as he has had to managed significant player turnover.
“We’re less experienced this year, and this is a very different team,” Hehir said.
But the Wolfhounds did enough Saturday to beat the Pittsburgh Harlequins 31-14 and move on to the national DI club Round of 16.
“They weren’t what we expected,” said Hehir of Pittsburgh. “We understood they’d be strong in the backs, but it was their forwards that gave us trouble in the first half.”
Pittsburgh swarmed well to the ball and denied BIW good possession. But in the second half they adjusted, slotting fullback Mark Sutton in at flyhalf and having Sutton boot the ball downfield.
“We figured we’d open up the game more that way and turn their wings around, and it worked well,” said Hehir.
The Wolfhounds back row, especially flanker Derek Morin and No. 8 Verdaguer played well for Boston, but Hehir said he needs to see more.
“I don’t think we got out of second gear,” he said. “We weren’t quite in pre-season form, but it wasn’t mid-season form, either. We over-committed too many players into defensive rucks, and that played into their hands a bit. Going forward we need to make sure we secure good, clean ball for our backs.”