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Both teams are 4-0 in the Laurence Conference, and they have accomplished this in slightly different ways. Worcester is a bit more of a smash-mouth team that relies on defense – they have given up a paltry 25 points in four matches.
Middlesex likes to run it a bit more, and averages almost 60 points scored per game. The two teams have played the same four opponents in their opening four matches. In every game, Worcester’s defense has held their opponents to fewer points than Middlesex. Middlesex has generally scored more points (actually twice, with one game Worcester outscoring by a point, 39-38, and another where Worcester blew out Burlington in the opening weekend).
Certainly Middlesex Head Coach Josh Smith expects a study in contrasts.
“We’re glad we’re playing this game at our field and we’re on our fast turf surface,” he said. “Worcester’s going to be tough. They were a top DI club and always had the potential to shoot back up there. I think it was only a matter of time. They grind it out on offense and we play a wide game. We’ll be relying a lot on our successful 7s experience from this summer.”
The speedy Middlesex backs will need some support and they will get it in the shape of openside Jon Kokinda, who has been a revelation. That, combined with tight five forward-turned center Michael Lyons could be the difference if Middlesex wants to breach Worcester’s stout defensive line.
Add to that the fact this is a local derby (“we’re right next to each other and most of the players know each other,” said Smith) makes this a classic case of big-scoring teams headed into a tight, low-scoring slugfest.