Quins Drop Close One to Exiles

Have you ever had one of those days when you just couldn’t get out of your own way?   The Pittsburgh Harlequins may have been the better team overall, but on this Saturday they weren’t able to close the deal on a team that has recently been at the top of the MARFULeague.

The Exiles got on the board after 10 minutes of hard hitting forwards play.  The Maryland backs picked up the ball out of some broken play and were able to capitalize against a defense transitioning inside their own half.    The unconverted try left the score 5-0.

The Harlequins responded with back play that kept the visitors scrambling to cover, and over the next twenty minutes picked up a converted try and a penalty conversion to bring the back into the lead at 10-5.

Almost immediately on the restart, The Harlequins were hit with three penalties in a row that marched them back deep in their own territory.  With their heels on the goal line, Maryland capitalized on the momentum and tied up the game with a crash against the grain.  10-10.

The Harlequins, dominating the loose play, counter-ruckingat every breakdown, soon reversed the situation and Maryland found themselves defending inside their 5-meter.  Three successive scrums  couldn’t clear the ball, and the frantic pace gave way to a desperate clearing kick by the Maryland Flyhalf was blocked

by Evan McNenly and collected in goal by veteran second row Jared Pander.    The half ended with the Harlequins in the lead, 15-10.

The second half was much like the first, with the Harlequins hitting hard from both the forwards and the backs.  Prop Troy Epps crashed time and again into the exiles backline, breaking for several long runs into the visiting teams territory.

A booming kick down the far sideline led to the last luck of the day for the Quins.  The Maryland fullback attempted to kick the loose ball out the back of the try zone as a tenacious QuinsFullback was on his heels.  The 22 meter deep try zone, one of the few in the country, gave enough space for the Harlequin Fullback to recover the ball and take the quins to a 20-10 lead.

With only 20 minutes left in the game, the Exiles broke a tackle on the outside and were able to convert to bring the score within 3.

The Harlequins, up 20-17 with only 10 minutes left in the game, began work harder with diminishing results, and with 7 minutes left to play the Exiles crossed the line again, to take the lead 22-20.  The Harlequins relentlessly attacked, but couldn’t make significant headway inside the 22 meter line before the final whistle blew.

Not the way many had hoped the undefeated Harlequins Team would fare at home, but hats off to a good Maryland team that travelled to Pittsburgh and won on the road.  The Harlequins have a bye week, and then travel  to Virginia to take on the Raleigh Vipers October 13th.  The next home game is November 3rd vs. Norfolk Blues RFC.