Palmer, Atlanta Renegades, Metropolis, and the Chicago Lions are all moving on to the National DI Club Round of 16 as Palmer got a bye and the other three all won their CR3 playoffs Saturday.
The #1 seed from the Midwest, Palmer got the bye after being notified earlier that Boca Raton would not make the trip to Iowa. Meanwhile, the other #1 seed, New Orleans, were defeated 41-12 by the Chicago Lions.
While this might seem an upset, in many ways it was not, as the Lions have been playing superbly well, and are in good form now that spring is here.
“We did feel like a #4 team, because we felt that was where we finished, so we deserved that seed,” said Chicago Head Coach Marty Wiggins.
Faced with very expensive air fares to New Orleans, the Chicago players bussed it 16 hours to the game, and then took care of business.
“In Cup rugby, you need to take care of the little things, the basics,” said Wiggins. “That’s what we’ve been talking about, and we’ve been trying to instill it into the players. We witnessed the fact they’ve learned those lessons. In the playoffs you can’t make your lineout throws just every other time; you can’t be flippant with the ball; you have to concentrate on every scrum, every lineout, every tackle.”
The players who have been stepping up for Chicago did so again Saturday. Prop Dave Knab and lock Matt Priest anchored a solid tight five effort, and Eddie Long was also solid in the back row.
In the backs, captain Dave Selimos has led the team well from scrumhalf, and “just keeps getting better and better,” said Wiggins.
Center Lucas Thiem caused New Orleans problems in the midfield.
Wing Jordan Highberger scored two tries as the Lions claimed a big victory.
The Renegades were the only South team to win, beating the Cincinnati Wolfhounds 38-22 in Atlanta. Full report here.
Meanwhile Metropolis continued their outstanding offensive run, shutting out Charlotte 48-0. After some warmup games against tough lower-division teams, Metropolis earned the #2 seed in the Midwest (and a home playoff game) by winning two games earlier this month, and score 127 points in those two matches.
Saturday they were even better in very wintry conditions.
“I am very pleased,” said Head Coach Nate Osborne. “We are playing very well and we’ve got a lot of talent and execution in the backs. Our loose row is playing well and all the guys have taken on the approach of good team play. We might have been a bit of a selfish team in the past, but we’ve got everyone thinking that it doesn’t matter who scores, as long as we score.”
Bolstered by some talent trained at the Spearhead Rugby Academy, Metropolis is leading a Minneapolis rugby renaissance.
But there were scorers, including No. 8 and captain Wade McInroy, who was superb, and combined well with flanker Nick Johnson and the rest of the forwards (including a flanker converted from wing).
“The guys are playing well together because we hang out together and enjoy their time together,” said Osborne. “If you’re going to come out every Tuesday and Thursday and pay to play every Saturday, you better be doing it for a good reason.”
The Renegades move on to play Mystic River in the Round of 16 in Pittsburgh. Metropolis is in the same bracket, and will take on PAC.
Palmer faces Norfolk in Pittsburgh in the same bracket as Chicago, which faces Boston Irish Wolfhounds in a clash of former Super League teams.