Top of the Table Clashes Run Throughout This Week’s Saturday Six-Pack

This weekend there are games in every region of the country, which can only mean one thing… playoffs are getting under way. This week’s six-pack showcases the beginning of Atlantic North playoffs, while teams in other areas try to settle who makes it into theirs.

Empire Men's Division III Playoffs: Union County Mudturtles D3 vs. Lansdowne Rugby:
As the teams from the Atlantic North return to play this weekend, teams in the Empire Geographic Union get straight to business as playoffs underway. There is no shortage of quality matchups this weekend, but the pick of the litter is Union County taking on Lansdowne.

These two teams have compiled almost identical seasons, as both have been running through their opposition with ease. Union County holds a record of 7-1, including a loss by a single point, and earned a bonus point in all of their wins. On the opposite side of the coin, Lansdowne has similrarly gone 7-1, with each win earning them a bonus point and their only loss also being by one point. To that end, as they line up opposite each other, it will be as if they are looking in the mirror.

For Lansdowne, they will be playing this weekend with a point to prove. Last season looked almost identical to this season, but despite dominating their pool, they were ultimately ousted from the playoffs in the first round by the Rockaway Fishheads, 26-20. Their top point-scorer from last year, Sennin Flanagan, has been missing much of this season, so the team has turned to their fly-half, Dillon Casey. Doing more than just filling in, Casey has stepped up to the plate and delivered over 100 points for his team this year, both off his boot and with ball in hand. If Union County is to have any chance of advancing it will begin with shutting down Lansdowne's #10.

For Union County, their story this weekend is less of redemption and more of constant growth. Union County's D3 side has been around a while, but success has never really followed them. This year they changed that, and have qualified for the playoffs for the first time. Their coach and president, Russell Holt, believes that the change in fortune comes down to several factors. This includes "focus and dedication from the players and the coaches," which, as Holt noted "[have] all shown tremendous commitment."

Two of the major catalysts for change on this team have been their fly half and wing, Hunter Lostan and Timothy Stroever, respectively.  These two have combined for eleven tries on the year and will pose a serious concern to the Lansdowne defense. Lansdowne will now need to pay attention to all areas on the field rather than just concentrating on shutting down the middle or outside channels. However, Holt knows that the team they fielded in the fall will not be the same team they turn out this weekend, which is one of the many issues that can come with a split season. "It's a different team that will be playing on Saturday to what played in the fall. People move and have different work and social commitments, which means that changes in the team are common."

The winner of this game will advance through to the semifinals and continue their hopes of reaching the national playoffs.

Mid-Atlantic Women's Division III: Philadelphia Rugby D3 vs. Northeast Philadelphia Irish:
In a battle of first and second, the Northeast Philadelphia Irish will visit crosstown rival Philadelphia D3 for a top of the table clash. The Irish have had a strangle grip over the division this year, going a perfect 7-0, but Philadelphia Rugby will be looking to destroy any illusions of grandeur that their opposition may have. These two teams have faced off once before in the first round of the season, and while the result did not go Philadelphia's way, they will like their chances against the Irish this weekend. Philadelphia have improved significantly since the beginning of the season, and while their aspirations for winning the regular season title might have sailed, they will want to finish their competitive season with a statement win to carry them forward.

Pacific Northwest Men's Division II Championship: Eastside Tsunami vs. Snake River Rugby:
A winner-takes-all affair will take place this weekend in Portland, Oregon, when the #1 Eastside Tsunami host second-place Snake River. These two teams have met twice before and split the series. Snake River came out on top in the first match, landing a twelve-point victory, but the Tsunami then rolled in and beat Snake River the second time by six points in the midst of what has become a five-game winning streak. With identical records, these two teams are nearly impossible to split. The clubs possess a point differential that is only separated by six points, so it shouldn't be surprising if this match comes down to some last-minute heroics.

Red River Men's Division I: Dallas Rugby vs. Austin Blacks:
In Dallas, it's another rematch and another top of the table clash. This weekend Austin travels up to visit their rivals, the Reds, during Dallas's 50th anniversary celebration. The last time these two met was three weeks ago, and on that occasion the Blacks put the Reds dominating win streak to a screeching holt. Not only did the Blacks hand the Reds their first loss of the season, but they also stopped the Reds from scoring four tries for the only time this year. The Reds lost that match, 35-17, after being down 19-0 at the break. The last time they faced, Dallas was unable to contain the Blacks' inside center, Adam Armstrong, who was able to contribute 19 points to Austin's tally.  If the Reds are to have any chance of locking up the regular season title, they will have to win this weekend. A loss here for the Reds makes it impossible for the Blacks to slip off the top of the standings.


Red River Men's Division II: San Marcos Greys vs. San Antonio Rugby
In the penultimate round for Red River Men's Division II, San Marcos will attempt to solidify their spot on top of the central pool when they host second-place San Antonio. Both teams are in possession of a 6-2 record, but due to an extra bonus point, San Marcos is sitting in the pole position. These two teams have faced before when San Marcos traveled to San Antonio on January 27. On that occasion it was the Greys who were sent home disappointed, as they fell 8-21. Now that the tables have turned, San Marcos will favor their chances to turn the scoreboard too. In order to do this they will need to look out for San Antonio's inside center, Shane Morales, and fly half, Riley Mason. This pair has scored thirteen tries for San Antonio and contributed 15 points to the scoreboard the last time these two played. If the Greys can shut down the middle of the field, they will be able to shut down San Antonio's hopes for a pool title.

Mid-Atlantic Men's Division II: Doylestown Dragons vs. Old Gaelic Rugby:
The final game of this week's six-pack will see divisional leaders Doylestown take on third-place Old Gaelic. The Dragons will be playing their last game of the season, and a win here will all but guarantee that they are the divisional champions. However, Old Gaelic despite being in third, are well within striking distance as they have played one less game than the Dragons and have the ability to win the division if they win their final two games. In a sign that doesn't bode well for Old Gaelic, their only loss of the season came to a team that the Dragons put away by 28 points, the Lancaster Roses. Despite this, there is every chance that Old Gaelic could come out on top as they have a stingy defense that has only let in 85 points this season. If the defense is able to stifle the Dragons fiery attack, Old Gaelic may be victorious.