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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

DI Recap & Playoff Preview


The DI quarterfinals match-ups are ready with a couple of victories by Rocky Gorge and the Old Aztecs. We recap those wins as well as offer our preview and predictions of this weekend's quarterfinals.

Mid-Atlantic

The Mid-Atlantic spot in the DI quarterfinals is set after Rocky Gorge continued their roll with a 48-22 win over the Norfolk Blues. As they have done all year Rocky Gorge were dominant. Trevor Tanifum got things started with a try. Scott Wheeler then added one of his own before Norfolk scored. Ben Cima was strong on the day and added a drop goal to go along with his long day kicking conversions. Nicholas Sylor, Brady Smith, Nick Kuhl, Matias Cima (twice) finished off the match with tries.

Pacific South

The Old Aztecs were the best team during the Pacific South regular season and that continued in their 29-8 playoff victory against OMBAC. Timothy Howard scored three penalties while Sean Mccully added a try to give the Old Aztecs a 14-0 lead at halftime. Mila Setafene would get OMBAC on the board first with a penalty in the second half. They then cut the lead to eight with a try from Stevie Johnson. However, tries from Jacobus Breytenbach and Eric Pray would help seal off the match.

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So here is how things look for this weekend's quarterfinals:

Life West Gladiators vs. San Diego Old Aztecs

This one looks to be a solid encounter. The Gladiators stormed through the Pacific North regular season but they've lost some players to the San Francisco PRO Rugby team. They've gotten some of those players back at times and good have them in Tucson but they are more likely to be a bit shorthanded. However, they have built a lot of depth over the last couple of years and have plenty of top players.

The Old Aztecs are a very solid team themselves. As seen above they were very strong during the Pacific South season. They wasn't lot of wild swings and they have a consistent year. San Diego is known for having a solid pool of players and the Old Aztecs have played together for awhile.

It's hard to prognosticate who might win this match but if there is an edge it may go to the Old Azetcs. The Gladiators will be missing too many players and the Old Aztecs are due for a big win.

Dallas Red vs. Austin Blacks

The Reds and the Blacks are one of the best rivalries in American rugby. These two teams have been battling in the Red River for a number of years and that was no different this year. The Reds barely edged the Blacks to top the table by a point thanks to their 16-15 win over the Blacks a few weeks ago to end the season. All of the  matches between the two teams have been close. In addition to the one point separation in April the Blacks beat the Reds 34-30 in February.

It's difficult to tell who has the advantage. The Blacks made it to the DI championship last year and return a lot of the same players. However, the Reds won the most recent match. One of the things that also adds to uncertainty is that this match is set for neutral ground. If we had to take a guess it's hard to go against the experience of the Blacks.

Metropolis vs. Mystic River

Metropolis were not the best team during the Midwest regular season, that went to the Chicago Lions,  but Metropolis were the best team when it counted. They beat Kansas City in the Midwest semi-finals and then beat the Chicago Griffins 29-27 in the final. However, their regular season should be discounted. They did finish second in the league. The wins at the end did help turnaround a stretch during April and March that saw them lose both of their Gold Cup matches (they lost all four times to Austin and Dallas) and then some league play matches. Players like Joel Yogerst, Ekapatelisio Veamatahau, and Chris Marais have been outstanding all year.

As much of a roll as Metropolis have been on they haven't quite met up with a team like Mystic River yet. Playing an Atlantic North DI schedule that is as tough as any in the country Mystic River picked up some notable wins, including over NYAC and Old Blue. They did lose both to NYAC and Old Blue but the size of their wins outpace their defeats. Jon Feldman, Chris Frazier, Jon Kokinda, and Sean Rafferty have provided the team with an excellent platform for success.

If we have pick a winner we're going to go with Mystic River. They have had too many strong wins this year and have been very impressive against all they've faced. It's going to be close but Mystic River win.

Old Blue vs. Rocky Gorge

This could be the closest of all the quarterfinals matches and if these two teams were in the final it would be a fitting match. Unfortunately for both teams only one gets to advance and one top team is going to have their season end early. Old Blue are the co-ARP champions after a win over Life to end the season. Old Blue are loaded with top players. The likes of Luke Hume, Harry Higgins, and James Bird are Eagles quality. They may be the best players not playing PRO Rugby at the moment (work commitments keep them in New York).

Rocky Gorge were absolutely dominant in their Mid-Atlantic season. They didn't lose a single regular season match and had a whopping +557 point differential. Only giving up 97 points in the regular season they put up a massive 654 point total. Many of those points came from the boot of Ben Cima. He has been away with the JWRT team but was big last week as seen above. It was just their first year playing DI but it's hard to argue against them being a favorite to make the final.

This match is going to be close. The Cima brothers have Rocky Gorge playing well but we think that Old Blue just have too many good pieces in strong positions to be denied here.

Semi-finals

If our predictions hold right that will put the Old Aztecs against the Austin Blacks in one semi-final and Mystic River vs. Old Blue in the other. In this scenario we're going to give the edge to the Blacks and Old Blue.

The matches from the Pittsburgh and Tucson quarterfinals and semi-finals will be streamed live on USARugbyTV.com


1 comment:

  1. So how does So Cal D1 compare to Nor Cal / PNRFU schedule & qualification??? I also believe Lifewest won both the D1&D2 Cal Cups last year as a D2 team!

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