Two weekends ago, the Women’s Premier League not only saw a unique win – D.C.’s victory over Beantown – but it was a record-breaker for the victor: The Furies hadn’t beaten the Boston team since Ruggerfest in 2001. On the other side of that benchmark was Beantown, which had to evaluate what went wrong and how they were going to fix it in one week’s time.
“We didn’t really show up for that D.C. game,” Beantown standout and Eagle flanker Mel Denham said. “Beantown is known for its forward work, but we weren’t retaining our ball, and our support wasn't there quick enough. That was the biggest factor, and we worked on cleaning that area up [this past week].”
Shoring up those fundamentals made all the difference, and Beantown posted a 34-0 win over New York yesterday. Beantown took care of the ball in contact, focused on stringing phases together, and eventually broke New York down.
“It was pretty steady throughout the game,” Denham considered changes in momentum during the game. “New York came out hard in the second half, put us under some pressure, but other than that, we more or less controlled it.”
Tess Kohanski stood out on the day. She not only led point-scorers with two tries, but brought her always-physical brand of rugby to flanker and hooker. Alyssa Green also doubled up position wise, and ran some great strike lines from wing and fullback, also notching a try. Denham and wing Ashley Clancy dotted down as well, while Emily Jones and Kelly Seary added a conversion apiece.
“We are definitely happier with our performance than we were last weekend, but we still have a lot to work on,” Denham added. “Our set pieces, lineouts, can be better. We’re not fully utilizing everything we can.”
Traditionally, the New York vs. Beantown game is a fun one to watch; one of the true grudge matches in women's club rugby. But that hasn’t been the case this year.
“It makes me a little sad because there used to be a big rivalry between us – head-to-head games, a big fight,” Denham reflected on her long career playing New York. “But New York’s program is growing again. They retired a lot of their veteran player in a similar time period, then they fell a little after that. But they’re still building, and they’ll get better. It’s just the cycle of clubs growing and players retiring; unfortunately, they had to build from scratch.”
New York is also one of two WPL teams that doesn’t field a D2 team in a competitive league (the other being Berkeley; and Glendale runs a WPL Developmental team, which is in essence a D2 team), which has proven to be a huge asset to the longevity to WPL squads.
So what lies ahead for the Blue Conference? Glendale has all but wrapped up its spot in the upper tier of the championships and will be joined by the Red Conference’s Berkeley and Twin Cities. That leaves one more spot for either D.C. or Beantown, which are both 2-2. The pressure is on Beantown, because if they don’t beat D.C. in the rematch this Sunday, then they’ll have to beat Glendale on the road or hope D.C. loses to New York in the final week of league. So Beantown might be missing its grudge match with New York, but this Saturday's game against D.C. will determine who's still in the running for the WPL championship - so expect some sparks.