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The Portland rugby club of Maine clinched a spot in the New England playoffs Saturday with their impressive 57-17 defeat of Providence.
Portland is 2nd in New England with an 8-1 record. They are just behind New Haven, which beat Saratoga Springs 43-19 and also clinched a playoff spot. With one more week left in the New England DII club season, Hartford has also clinched a top four spot, leaving the final place up for grabs between Amoskeag, Albany, and Burlington.
Portland club president James Canon said his club is playing some entertaining, high octane rugby and it's enjoyable to play.
"We're a free running team, and the team overall has come together really well," said Canon. "Over Labor Day weekend we came together for a training camp and that really got us started on the right foot. A lot of B-side players have had to come in to play A-side and they've all done well. We've only had one real hiccup."
That would be September 7 against Burlington, where they just didn't fire on all cylinders. It was a tough loss, and one that Canon calls "just a bad day."
New Haven also had one bad day, a one-point loss to Albany on September 21, and because of that Portland could still take 1st if they win this weekend against Newport and New Haven loses. However, that seems unlikely given how well New Haven has been playing.
Interestingly, not all the teams in New England play each other - 14 teams play just ten games apiece. Portland has not faced #1 New Haven or #3 Hartford. Eventually they will, however, as the playoffs will force those games to happen.
That last playoff spot comes down to this weekend.
Amoskeag (6-3, 4th) takes on 4-4 Saratoga Springs. Albany (6-3, 5th) plays 0-9 Charles River. Burlington (6-3, 6th) faces 4-5 Providence.
Burlington will need to win by a massive amount and hope Albany loses and Amoskeag loses by a massive amount. Albany will need to win and hope Amoskeag loses. Amoskeag just needs to tie to clinch that 4th spot, and can even move up to third if Hartford loses.