You are here
As the fall season is wrapping up, the DI Mid-Atlantic playoff contenders are jockeying for position in a crowded top of the standings. The Potomac Exiles, Norfolk Blues, and Schuylkill River Exiles each won their games by at least 24 points on the weekend. The second place team, the Baltimore-Chesapeake Brumbies, was idle for the weekend.
With the top four teams huddled at the top of the division, the Raleigh Vipers on are the outside looking in, and NOVA and Pittsburgh are struggling to find their elusive first victory. With four more weeks left on the schedule and the top teams playing each other, the DI Mid-Atlantic standings could potentially change dramatically.
Potomac Exiles at NOVA
The division-leading Exiles remained undefeated with a 45-21 victory over NOVA. Tying the game 11 minutes into the second half, NOVA made it interesting, but Potomac scored the next four tries to finish the contest. With 37 points in the DI standings, the Exiles have placed themselves as the team to beat.
Exiles scrumhalf Chris Saint and wing Chris Frazier had two tries each in the match, and fullback Joanel Joseph, captain Ben Wiedemer and reserve Mark Crick added a try each to the tally. Matt Quigley was five-for-seven on his conversions.
Although the Exiles earned their eighth victory, head coach Chris Mahony wasn’t too satisfied with his team’s performance. “We were too individualistic. With respect to NOVA. They are not the most sophisticated attacking side in the competition, and their defensive organization wasn’t great. If we were to simply apply the systems that we have put in place, we shouldn’t had have a problem either retaining possession or putting a lot more points on the board than we did. As satisfying to get the win and to finish the [fall] season unbeaten, there is an enormous amount to work on for the spring.”
Looking back on the fall season and towards the spring, which is full of the top clubs in the division, Mahony stated, “I feel a bit concerned after our performance against NOVA. Its always a bit difficult for everyone to maintain the same level of concentration when you are not up against one of the top sides in the competition. To some extent its understandable, however, if we put a performance out there against one of the top sides like we did against NOVA, we are likely to come up short. Its great to finish unbeaten, but we know the other sides will have seen how we play and they will be prepared for us and be ready to put out a big performance when they come out against us. We got to take our game to another level next spring.”
Norfolk Blues at Raleigh Vipers
After back-to-back losses to Potomac and Schuylkill River, Norfolk notched its third-straight victory with a win over Raleigh, 59-22. The Blues scored nine tries. That included a hat-trick by scrumhalf Dutch Jones, and flyhalf Jake Humphrey had one try, two penalty kicks and four conversions.
The play of Jones and Humphrey was the key to the game, according to Norfolk head coach Chris Porter. “The guys just followed our No. 9 and No. 10, Dutch Jones and Jake Humphrey. Those guys kept attacking the line and they got our forwards moving forward. They kept them going after the Raleigh defense. Once they got them on their heels, Jake Humphrey would get the ball and attack with our backs and take advantage of the gaps we created because of that.”
Along with Humphrey and Jones, wing John Leo, wing David Paradiso, prop James Smith, lock Ryan Carden and fullback Bryce Baxter scored tries for the Blues. For Raleigh, lock Justin Reed scored the first try of the match and scrumhalf Justin Bourgeois added two tries in the scored half. Outside center Gareth Jones was successful on two of his conversions and connected on a penalty kick.
“I think it was our best game of the season. We kept to our game plan,” said Porter. “We didn’t get flustered without scoring off the bat. We like to get into our phases and making them commit to our runners and then after ten or 15 minutes in, open up a lot of gaps. When it started to open up, we took advantage of those opportunities.”
In the spring, Norfolk ends the season with matches against the top three clubs in the division: Potomac, Schuylkill River, and two versus Baltimore-Chesapeake.
“We are excited about it because we control our own fate,” Porter stated. “We don’t have to worry about anybody beating anybody else. We have to go out and play our game. If we win all four of our games, we are right where we want to be. We are excited that we have control of everything. We have to play the other top three teams. We don’t want to worry about other teams helping us out. We can help ourselves by winning those four games and we will be in the driver’s seat where we want to be.”
Schuylkill River Exiles at Pittsburgh Harlequins
Fourth-place Schuylkill River improved to 5-3 with a 56-14 victory over Pittsburgh. After early-season missteps that left them with a 2-3 mark, the Exiles have won three matches in a row.
“We started off kind of sluggish, which has cursed us all year. But, we got our rhythm back pretty quickly,” Exiles head coach Bill Jalbert said. “Offensively, we were able to make a lot of things happen. We lapsed a couple of times on both sides of the ball. Just got mentally lazy, but recovered pretty well. To look at the whole package, we probably played about 65 minutes of good rugby and 15 minutes of disorganized, disjointed play.”
Flanker Robert Pletcher (3), eightman Randy Hellsman, flanker J.C. VonHoltz (2), reserve flanker Kyle Travelet and reserve lock James Gregory had tries for Schuylkill River. Flyhalf Matt Chiaramonte kicked one conversion, and outside center Bruce Dolan added three conversions and a penalty kick as time expired.
Next week, Raleigh comes to Philadelphia to play Schuylkill River. “To us, it’s a very key game. We are playing Raleigh at home. Raleigh is fighting for a playoff spot. I know they are going to come up here with some desperation. We know it’s going to be a really tough game. I know Raleigh is an awesome team. If you look at their numbers, they have a bonus point in all of their games. They know how to put points on the board, so for us, defense is going to be key.”