Harlequins End Strong

The Pittsburgh Harlequins hosted the Northern Virginia (NOVA) Rugby Club today at home- which marked the latest in the year rugby has been played at Founders Field.  The Harlequins won 44-17, taking them to 5-4 for the fall portion of the season in a league where that is a contender for the playoffs and championship in the Spring.  The matchup today was the only game in town, with all other club, college and high school teams having wound up their seasons last week.  As a result, a good sized crowd filled the sidelines and the deck to enjoy the best rugby within 100 miles.

NOVA 2013 Fall - 09Scoring was kicked off in the 9th minute by the Harlequins when Tight-Head Prop Ryan O’Kane found himself in a one on one out on the wing, and ran through from 25 meters out for the try.   On the subsequent kickoff aggressive play in the forwards and fast hands in the backs left NOVA with little choice but to hold the ball in a tackle and the Quins notched three more on a penalty kick just in front of their posts.

NOVA 2013 Fall - 13Fullback Ted Sheedy snuck into the line as the ball ran wide and then came back; finding himself in good position to collect a challenging pass as he dove over the line.  A good conversion took the score to 15-0, and the Harlequins looked as if they could not make a mistake.  With 60 minutes left to play, NOVA showed the home team why you don’t take anything for granted in the MAC conference.  A converted try that took the entire visiting team and only moments of time off the clock, put them squarely still in the game.

NOVA 2013 Fall - 18The score brought the Harlequins back down to earth; and after winning a ruck where a NOVA forward found himself isolated, the Harlequin backline showed it’s physicality by crashing straight up the middle of the opposition.  Inside Center Tyree “CeeCee” Massie created some daylight and outpaced the defense for the final 40 meters, bringing the score at halftime to 27-7.

The second half was just starting to get chippy as both teams were unable to score for almost 15 minutes.  Referee John Hogan was able to quickly sort out the transgressions and after a word with both captains play resumed and the antagonism was no longer a factor.

At minute 58 the Harlequins found themselves five meters out after a huge run by wing Jason Ewing.  Out of the deadlock on the goal line Paul Holmes picked up, took a quick step outside and then muscled his way through two defenders to touch down for his fifth try of the season. 32-7NOVA 2013 Fall - 51

NOVA 2013 Fall - 48 A long race down the sidelines brought the Quins back into scoring range, and Zack Schell made the effort to support and was rewarded with a walk-in try to go up 39-12 with nineteen minutes left to play.  5 minutes later NOVA was able to contest in the ruck and caught the Harlequins defense on their backfoot- allowing a quick try in the far corner to keep their hearts in the game.

Again the Harlequins used the sidelines and good movements in the backs to get within scoring range.  A short chip ahead by fly-half Mike Wilk gave a surge of Quins a good chance to fall on it in the tryzone.  Scrumhalf Evan McNenly collected the ball and put the Quins final points on the board, 44-12.NOVA 2013 Fall - 68

NOVA had plenty of pride and speed left, and responded with some quick rucking and quicker off-loading to find their new center from Virginia Tech with a little space and a lot of momentum to round out the days scoring.  Final Score, 44-17 Harlequins over NOVA.

With this result the Harlequins find themselves tied for fourth in the league, and the masters of their own fate next spring.