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New England and Met NY square off in a pair of play-in matches Saturday, the winners of which advance to the New England semifinals. The losers miss out on the Northeast’s spring crossovers against the Mid-Atlantic in the national round of 32.
In one of Saturday’s tilts, the Boston Irish Wolfhounds host Long Island. These two met last fall in the postseason, a game which the Wolfhounds won handily. That game, though, was between the NERFU and MetNY champs. This one will be between the NERFU runner up, BIWRFC, and MetNY’s third-place team, Long Island.
The Wolfhounds have had to overcome massive turnover from last year’s semifinal team, which partially explains why they don’t have a bye this weekend. Long Island, on the other hand, just stumbled out of the gate into a rough early schedule.
“We came into our first game against New York without a game under our belts, they had two or three games already, and honestly weren’t ready for them. Then the following week we ran into a buzz saw against Monmouth,” said Long Island coach Jerry Mirro.
“First half we dominated, could have gone either way. The second half we ran out of gas, we still weren’t game fit. Third game with Old Blue was a great game. Game could have gone either way. You could tell we were improving even though we were 0-3, and then from there on we just went up hill because our fitness came.”
Long Island is entering the weekend on a three-game win streak.
The other play-in features New York Rugby Club and South Shore. South Shore has a dangerous back three, and their fullback is especially good with ball in hand, so NYRC will try to keep the ball away from South Shore’s danger men Saturday.
“We’re looking forward to just closing their space down and identifying any sort of attack from that side of things,” said NYRC coach Greg Norris. “We’ll be looking to dominate more in the forwards more than we have in the past. I feel pretty confident that we will do that…We’re going to avoid kicking to their backs if we can.”
Mystic River and Monmouth await Saturday's winners.