Out of Touch: Pittsburgh Harlequins vs. Baltimore-Chesapeake Brumbies in final Fall action

The Harlequins traveled to Baltimore for the final match of the Fall half. The Baltimore trip has been an annual occurrence for the Quins for over a decade now. And for nearly as long Pittsburgh has not left Baltimore with a victory. During practice this past week the Quins discussed the significance of this match for both the season’s success as well as for the legacy and history of the club. Over a decade without winning in Baltimore. This fact served as excellent motivation for the Pittsburgh side.

Despite kicking the ball to Baltimore to begin the match, the Quins regained possession quickly. The first Pittsburgh possession featured strong forward runs in the interior of the field. Forced to respect gain line advances, BC defenders left space on the wing. The Quins backline punched through the defense, offloaded to space and within five minutes fly-half Ted Sheedy was over the line for the first score.

Baltimore came to play. They would not roll over so easily. They chased down the restart kick and suddenly had possession in the Quins’ half. A few forward runs engineered the space they needed in the backline and within minutes of the Pittsburgh try, Baltimore had the lead at 7 – 5. Maintaining possession, BC kept to their strength. Big forward crashes complimented by a disciplined backline. Poor communication on the Harlequins’ part created another overload on the wing and the Brumbies took the lead at 12 – 5.

Pittsburgh would surge for the remainder of the first half with one opportunity after another to score again. Handling errors and inadequate support at the breakdown cost Pittsburgh the possession on several attempts inside the attacking twenty-two. Ultimately aided by a yellow card for a dangerous tackle, Pittsburgh capitalized on the man advantage as hooker Frank LeDonne dove over the line for his second try in the three matches. Sheedy’s conversion tied the game at 12.

Before the half, BC made a surge of their own, playing multiple phases inside the Pittsburgh twenty-two. Aided by a few breakdown penalties, Baltimore would advance the ball to within the five meter line, but a staunch defensive sequence by the Quins kept the momentum on the Pittsburgh side headed into the half.

Carrying that momentum into the second half, Pittsburgh recycled the ball quickly and maintained straight attacking lines. Eight-man Vili Siale and center Eddie Varea punished defenders, pushing them clear over and executing sympathetic offloads. The backline moved the ball well while Varea kept creating space by being difficult to bring down one-on-one. Within five minutes Varea himself would take the ball over the line for the score.

Without letting up, Pittsburgh went right back on the attack. Strong running from lock Mitch DePellegrini and prop Zack Jessell, kept the Quins moving forward. Good vision and offloading by lock Steve Novacic would deliver the ball to forwards and backs alike, running with pace and diagnosing space in the defense. DePellegrini carried defenders with him as he reached for the try line. A strong start to the second half put Pittsburgh up 26 – 12 before the sixtieth minute.

Once more the Brumbies did not take the cue to stop fighting for the win. With the momentum favoring the Quins, BC looked to find their second wind. Spreading the ball well, Baltimore looked for overloads on the wing. It had so far worked for them and it would continue to do so. Pittsburgh struggled to pick up man advantages as the ball went wide. Well-timed offloads and forward crashes to buy time between long phases kept BC moving forward. With an unconverted try, Baltimore made the score 26 – 17 with plenty of rugby left to play.

The rest of the match would go back and forth with both sides narrowly missing on promising opportunities. At the seventieth minute Pittsburgh had the ball on another encouraging possession. Difficult to defend forward crashes and elusive running from the backs advanced the ball to within the Baltimore twenty-two. When the ball came to Siale once more, he and center Lamont Ham Gadson both saw a wide gap in the defense. The offload and catch worked to perfection as Gadson ran twenty meters untouched for the try.

With less than ten minutes to play and the score 33 – 17, Baltimore made their final push. They regained possession and looked for the space in an exasperated Quins defense. The space was there and they capitalized quickly. A converted try made the score 33 – 24. It would be the same story on the Brumbies’ next possession. Poor tackling and good offloads kept the ball moving forward for Baltimore. Offside penalties kept Pittsburgh on their back foot while BC came closer and closer to completing the comeback. They put the final try on the board with a few minutes remaining, but missing the conversion kick made the score 33 – 29. BC, unable to tie the game with a penalty goal, was in need of one last try.

Just as the first half had ended, Pittsburgh’s defense remained resolute as the final whistle blew. For the first time in a long time, the Harlequins got a win in Baltimore, concluding the Fall half with a record of six wins and four losses. Pittsburgh will not play again until they travel to Norfolk on March 18th. Until then the Harlequins look to rest and recuperate before coming back better than ever. Thank you to all who support the Pittsburgh Harlequins Rugby Football Club.

Out of Touch: East Meets West in Pennsylvania Showdown

The Pennsylvania Turnpike is a path well travelled for both the Schuylkill River Exiles and the Pittsburgh Harlequins. It was only a few weeks ago that the Quins left Philly after a tight margined defeat. But on Veteran’s Day, Pittsburgh would even the 2017 series.

The Quins controlled the opening kickoff and played well for a number of phases before forcing a bad offload. In good attacking position, the Exiles ran a few phases of their own before being awarded a penalty for a high tackle. Schuylkill would strike first with a penalty goal.

Pittsburgh chased down the ensuing kickoff to put pressure on the Exiles in their own end. A quick clearance kick by the Schuylkill flyhalf gave the ball back to the Quins in good position. Quins forwards dominated the contact zone around the rucks, making gain line after gain line. Taking defenders with him, lock Mitch DePellegrini went over the try-line for the first Pittsburgh score of the day.

For the remainder of the first half, the Harlequins dominated forward play. Maintaining possession of the ball in the Exiles half. More strong running from the forwards put prop Zack Jessell over the line. After the next restart kick the Quins were soon back in attacking position. This time it was fly-half Ted Sheedy who spotted a gap in the Schuylkill defensive line. There would be no stopping him as Pittsburgh extended the lead.

The Exiles managed to get the ball back next, but a strong defensive presence from center Wardell Lamont Ham Gadson drove the Exiles ball carrier backwards putting Gadson in great counter-rucking position. With the ball turned over, lock Steve Novacic advanced the ball forty meters to the try line. Four unanswered tries had Pittsburgh up 28-3 at halftime.

Pittsburgh kicked off to the Exiles to open the second half, but pressure on defense turned the ball over quickly. Diagnosing another gap in the Schuylkill defense, Sheedy met the line with pace and never looked back. Another try for the fly-half.

Schuylkill caught a break after a high tackle, among a longer list of offenses, was enough to draw the attention of the referee. The yellow card was presented and Pittsburgh was forced to play a man down. The Exiles made it count. The man advantage allowed them to maul against the Harlequins. A good drive from the maul put Pittsburgh on the back foot when the ball finally came wide to the backs. Elusive running and good offloads put the Exiles over the line for their first try of the day.

With some momentum of their own, Schuylkill was resolved to keep the pressure on. Aided by poor tackling and inadequate defensive communication, the Exiles were over the try-line within five minutes of the last.

As fatigue set in for both sides, the Exiles would catch their second wind first. More poor tackling from the Quins countered with quality offloads from the Exiles, gave the Schuylkill side plenty of room to work. The ball came to the Exiles back line with a lot of space in front of them. The Quins did not adjust quickly enough and suddenly the score was 35-22.

Eventually, and with the help of substitutes, the Pittsburgh side caught their second win. Noticing Schuylkill’s wide spacing around the breakdown area, Quins forwards looked to pick the ball from the back of the ruck. Gain-line after gain-line the Harlequins marched their way back down the field. Awarded a breakdown penalty, Pittsburgh slotted a penalty goal off the foot of Sheedy.

With time winding down, the Exiles made their final push. They came close on a number of occasions, but stout defense from the Quins kept them out of the in-goal area. A massive hit from center Viliami Siale, popped the ball out of the attacker’s grasp. A few passes to the exterior of the field brought the ball to fullback Scott Hervoyavich’s hands. Evading multiple defenders he could not be caught en route to a length of the field try.

Pittsburgh continued to control possession as the clock wound down to zero. Two bonus point home victories in as many weeks advances the Quins to 5-4 in MAC play. The Pittsburgh Harlequins are back in action next week, 11/18, in Baltimore for the final match of the Fall season.

Out of Touch: Potomac-Pittsburgh Showdown in Coraopolis

Rugby image of the scrum half pitching the ball out to the backs on his team

A week of heavy rain forced the Harlequins’ match against the Potomac Exiles to be relocated from Founders Field to Coraopolis. A few makeshift adjustments to a standard soccer pitch were no trouble for a Pittsburgh side eager to get back on the right track in MAC competition. Coming off of three straight losses, the […]

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Rugby image of the scrum half pitching the ball out to the backs on his team

Attention Harlequins fans. An important announcement to follow: Due to the high level of precipitation this past week Founders Field is water-logged and unplayable. Tomorrow’s (11/4) match against Potomac will be held at Montour Junction Sports Complex: 2419 State Avenue Coraopolis, PA 15108. The match will begin at 1 PM. We encourage you to come […]

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Out of Touch: Tough Road Loss in Nation’s Capital

The challenge of traveling well at the Club level once more rears its ugly head. The Harlequins were up early Saturday morning in order to make the trip to D.C. for a rematch against the Washington Irish. The previous meeting saw Pittsburgh the victor by a considerable margin, but on the Potomac with the Washington […]

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Out of Touch: Conference Championship Rematch Sees No Change in Result.

With fans, friends, family, and former players present; Harlequins Homecoming and Family Day was all set to be a fine success. Even the weather was willing to cooperate. The sky was blue and the sun shined bright, but Rocky Gorge came to play. That should come as no surprise. The reigning conference champs have a […]

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Pittsburgh Harlequins vs. Schuylkill River Exiles

The Harlequins’ four plus hour road trip to Philadelphia took its toll on their ability to start strong. Kicking off to the Exiles, Pittsburgh’s chase was unevenly timed and coverage poorly communicated among Quins defenders. Schuylkill would take advantage of open field play all day and that trend started from the opening kickoff. The Quins […]

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Pittsburgh Harlequins visit Potomac Exiles

Success in the Mid-Atlantic Conference has a lot to do with a club’s ability to travel. That is no secret, but executing a road victory continues to be difficult. That same feat eluded the Harlequins in week one against Rocky Gorge. If you look at the wins and losses between Potomac and Pittsburgh over the […]

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Baltimore-Chesapeake vs. Pittsburgh

After spending so much of last week’s match in good scoring position, but failing to capitalize on several occasions, the Quins had a lot to prove to themselves when Baltimore-Chesapeake came to town. And they did just that. Pittsburgh opened up the match with a consistent attack that balanced straight forward power with good passing to the […]

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Washington Irish vs. Pittsburgh Harlequins

Rugby image of the scrum half pitching the ball out to the backs on his team

“A win is a win,” says Head Coach Eric Jerpe as the Quins gather around him after their 30-17 victory. Pittsburgh did get a bonus point win against the newly DI promoted Irish side, but many expected a wider margin of victory after a good deal of the match was played inside the Irish twenty-two. […]

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