The weather made a bit of a mess of a crucial weekend in Northeast men’s DII club competition, as an unexpected snowstorm forced postponements of several games in the New York City area.
In New England, however, it was playoff time and no one had the luxury of waiting a week.
Laurence and Daly conference leaders Middlesex and Portland, 13-0-1 between them, clashed Saturday evening at Amesbury Sports Park on a pitch covered with at least two inches of snow.
Middlesex jumped out to an early lead thanks to penalty kicks from flanker John Kokinda. Cold and wet conditions made slick ball handling virtually impossible. Middlesex kept the ball in tight and their maul started to eat up territory and energy. Lock Sean Cullen finished off one maul for a try and a 13-0 lead for Middlesex. And then just before halftime Mike Mahoney capped off another maul, which Kokinda converted for a 20-0 lead.
Portland scored early in the second half to make it 20-7, however in the end the conditions ended the match early – a power outage cut the lights, and the teams were forced to stop playing.
Wing Nick Fujiwara and lock Cullen shared co-Man of the Match honors.
Meanwhile Burlington held off Providence 25-15 in far nicer conditions in Vermont. Providence took an early lead, but then gave up two unconverted tries and a penalty for a 13-3 Burling lead. In the second half, Providence scored an early try to close the lead to 13-8, but Burlington scored their second maul-over try to extended their cushion. Then a long-range counter-attack made it 25-8 and put the game away, Providence score once more late, but it wasn’t enough.
Those games established the New England seeding for the Northwest RFU playoffs.
Middlesex is #1 and gets a bye to the territorial semis. Portland is the #2 team and hosts the #3 team from the MetNY. Burlington is #3 and travels to the MetNY #2.
In MetNY, Montauk was able to play their match, a 22-0 shutout of Rockaway that clinched 1st place and they will also get a bye to the semis.
Who is 2nd and 3rd is yet to be determined. Danbury, Bayonne and Union are all 4-2. All of those teams had games called off this weekend, giving them one weekend to finish out the schedule. Danbury has 21 points, Bayonne 18, Union 17. Bayonne and Danbury face off this coming weekend, which essentially shuts out Union of any hope of taking 2nd. The winner of Bayonne v. Danbury (assuming now postponed games are made up) will be 2nd. Union, which plays 3-4 Lansdowne, will be hoping for a Danbury win so they can overtake Bayonne for 3rd.
So the November 12 playoffs look like this:
Danbury or Bayonne at Portland
Burling at Danbury, Bayonne or Union