Stung somewhat by their October 5 loss to the Maryland Exiles, the other Mid-Atlantic Exiles, Schuylkill River, did well to rebound last weekend with a 26-0 shutout of a solid Pittsburgh Harlequins team.
Winning didn’t surprise Head Coach Bill Jalbert, but the shutout was a bonus.
“Shutting them out was a pleasant surprise,” Jalbert told RUGBYMag.com. “We’ve worked hard on our defense, but that’s still tough to do.”
Wind and some caution from both teams meant there were no points in the first 30 minutes of the match. But then Schuylkill River pulled off a long sequence of at least 12 phases, culminating in a try, and followed that up with a try from No. 8 Randy Helsman. That made it 14-0 at halftime.
“But we knew Pittsburgh were going to push,” said Jalbert. “We couldn’t be complacent. What was pleasing for me was that the guys played on a very even emotional keel. We struggled to score, and they didn’t get down, and then we got those two tries, and they didn’t get too up.”
Two more tries in the second half put things to rest at 26-0. Jalbert said his team fixed some of their issues around the breakdown, and turned the ball over repeatedly.
“We fixed a lot of the problems we had against Maryland, such as not keeping possession,” said Jalbert. “We were exposed in a few areas. They have a big pack that got to the ball quickly and disrupted our possession. We like to play a quick game, but to do that we have to be better at the ruck.”
Schuylkill River looks ahead now to PAC, which is having a down season, but is still a difficult opponent. Several newer players, such as former Philly-Whitemarsh fullback Jim Rosato and former Media flanker Mike Ruggieri have come on well.
Jalbert said Rosato is just a “really good rugby player,” while Ruggieri, he added, “is an 80-minute guy, a guy who gets a lot of work done.”
Those players, along with the adjustments at the breakdown, have helped Schuylkill rebound from their first loss, and look with relish at their rematch with Maryland, which comes before the winter break on November 16 in Philadelphia.
“Oh yeah, we’re looking forward to that game,” said the coach.