The Midwest season continued rolling Saturday, with Metropolis firing the shot heard ‘round the league and the Chicago Griffins rebounding big from a loss to the Lions.
Metropolis Scores Big Road Win
Metropolis did something Saturday that no one has been able to do since Pearl City did so on Sept. 14th, 2009 -- beat Palmer in a league game at Palmer. Metropolis held onto a big first-half lead for a 29-25 victory in Davenport, Iowa on Saturday to improve to 2-0 in league play.
Metropolis lost to Palmer three times last season, twice in league play and once in the National semifinals, and hadn’t beaten Palmer in league play since 2009.
“It was a good game. It was actually a really, really entertaining, good game, a good, high level of rugby. They’re a good team. We’re a good team,” said Metropolis coach Nate Osborne.
“Anytime you can travel in this competition it’s great, especially when you can go down and you can beat Palmer.”
Metropolis took the blustering wind in the first half and pounded Palmer’s defensive corners en route to a 19-0 first-half advantage. Palmer got on the board with a penalty, and following Metropolis yellow cards in the 37th and 39th minute, scored their first try to make it 19-8 going into intermission. They scored a second at the start of the second half while the power play was still on, creeping closer at 19-15.
Playing two men down sapped Metropolis of energy.
“We went as hard as we could for that 10 minutes with 13 guys,” said Osborne. “We rolled three reserves after that because guys were just dead on their feet.”
Metropolis got its first score of the second half to make it 24-15, and Palmer rebutted to draw within four again at 24-20. With about three minutes left in the game, Metropolis scored its final try to take a 29-20 lead. Palmer managed one more score, but didn’t have enough time to complete the comeback.
Metropolis has enjoyed an infusion of young talent from the Spearhead Academy this season, welcoming guys like Nick Barrett from the U20s and Vili Toluta’u, who have made an instant impact. But, says Osborne, the bigger difference for the club this year is simply more time together in a relatively new system.
“I think the biggest key is another year together. When I took over last year in the fall we went from being a really forward-dominated club…to opening it up a bit,” he said.
“We started to really work on really knowing three-to-five phases in advance where we really wanted to move the ball to so that guys can get up out of that ruck and go to a certain part of the field without second guessing.
“I think last year in the fall we did really well in the new system, in the spring we did really well making that push for the final four, and now we’re probably 10-15 percent better again just by playing this new style of play.”
Chicago Griffins Extinguish Blaze
The Griffins started their league season last week with a lackluster 31-17 loss to cross-town rivals the Lions. They bounced back Saturday with a 63-12 romping of another Chicago team, the Blaze.
“We knew we had to get a five-point win to get anywhere near back on track, and we talked about it during the week, and that’s not taking anything away from the Blaze,” said Griffins coach Wez Parkes.
“They’re a solid team as well, so that’s a very big rivalry for us. They always have big aspirations to slip one across us, so we’re well aware of that, so we knew we had to bounce back and get ourselves back, not only in the competition, but get ourselves on the points scoreboard.”
The Griffins did just that, utilizing a superior set piece and dominance in possession to control the game, something they failed to do against the Lions.
“The week before, we had very little set-piece ball,” said Parkes. “We had a lot more personnel available (against the Blaze) that we didn’t have the week before for various reasons, so that helped with set-piece possession, and we had also worked on trying to increase the amount of phases that we hung onto it for.”
The Griffins started two green props against the Lions and they struggled to acclimate to the high level of play. One of them, Dan Bujwit, got a second chance against the Blaze and played well.
“He improved his game,” said Parkes of Bujwit. “That’s one thing you would look for. The one guy that got an opportunity to do that actually did it.”