Men’s Division II:
The Midwest’s Men’s Division II championship game was set on Saturday, after Wisconsin saw off the Pittsburgh Forge and Cleveland Crusaders cruised by the Indianapolis Impalas. In the first game, it was all one-way traffic for Wisconsin. They ran in 34 unanswered points before the Forge were able to get on the board in the 80th minute. The win was secured by a second half double scored by replacement wing, Brian Weddle. Final score, 34-5.
Wisconsin’s opponent would be determined by the winner of Cleveland Crusaders and the Indianapolis Impalas. In the beginning, it looked as though it would be their divisional rivals the Impalas; however, when the Crusaders scored 27 unanswered points in 20 minutes it became clear it would be the Crusaders advancing. The Crusaders were able to sustain their lead for most of the game- winning, 41-17. Flyhalf Nicholas Viviani led the way with 26 points for the Crusaders.
Women’s Division II:
Two very different games were played in the Women’s Division II playoffs, as the Milwaukee Scylla blew out the Chicago Sirens, 91-0. And the Pittsburgh Forge and Buffalo rugby were locked in a tight tussle; where Buffalo would eventually prevail, 22-10. In the Scylla’s match Fullback Chelsea Willes and number eight Abigail Williams both scored hat-tricks; while four other players scored a brace each. It was a comprehensive victory and Buffalo will know they have their hands full this weekend when they take on the 2017 National Champions.
Buffalo were able to avenge a regular season loss to the Pittsburgh Forge this weekend, on their way to booking a championship berth. The women from Western New York shot out to an early 17-0 lead within the first 20 minutes. From there the Forge clawed their way back into the match to bring it the deficit to a converted try with just over half an hour to play. However, a try in the 56th minute pushed the result beyond a doubt and Buffalo was able to hold their 12-point lead until the final whistle.
Men’s Division III:
In the men’s third division, there were conference semifinals and championships played, with the winner of each championship to meet in the Midwest championship game. In the eastern conference semifinals were played on Saturday with the Grand Rapids Gazelles and the Dayton Flying pigs taking each other on and Louisville Rugby facing the Presque Isle Scallywags. The Gazelles crushed the Flying Pigs, 60-0. The majority of the damage was done by lock Nicholas Burger who scored a double and their outside center Zebb Dewes-Taylor who contributed 23 points to the Gazelles’ efforts. In the other semifinal Lousiville were able to earn a hard fought victory 30-12 over the Scallywags. In their final on Sunday, the Gazelles put on a clinic winning by a similar margin over Louisville, 60-5. Dewes-Taylor was the shining light scoring 23 points in the winning effort.
Grand Rapids’ opponent for the weekend would be the winner out of the West, and it was a much tighter contest than what was witnessed in the east. It was the fourth seeded Bremer County Bucks that advanced through. They got through the semifinals against hosts and first seeded Milwaukee Rugby, 24-17. Their opponent for the western conference final would either be the Fox Valley Maoris or the St. Cloud Bottom Feeders. It became apparent early on it would be the Maoris as they walked away 56-10 victors. The Championship game on Sunday was a more comfortable experience for the Bucks as they took the game 25-5. They will now have a big week ahead of them as they prepare for a mammoth task of slowing the Gazelles down.
Men’s Division IV:
Similarly to the Men’s Division III competition, the Men’s Division IV saw conference semifinals and championships were played on Saturday and Sunday. In the East, the semifinals saw Lancaster Men of Stone and Fort Wayne Rugby D4 go toe to toe and the Findlay Scars up against the Columbus Coyotes. Lancaster advanced by the Fort Wayne and Findlay ran amuck against the Coyotes. The Scars put up 74 points on the board, on their way to an impressive victory. In Sunday’s final, the Scars again put on a clinic taking down the Men of Stone 50-19.
In the West, the Chicago Blaze D4 side comprehensively beat the Metropolis D4 side, putting up over 60 points in the process. Their opponent would be settled by the winner of the Indianapolis Impalas D4 and Cedar Rapids Headhunters. The Headhunters got the early lead in the game, but the Impalas came back and scored 14 unanswered to capture the lead. The Headhunters struck again and were within four, however, that was as close as they’d get. The Impalas D4 would go on to win the game after scoring another 17 unanswered. Final score, 31-10. In the final, it was a close affair, with the Impalas D4 holding on to win 19-14. Jonathon Wade was the catalyst in the win scoring the opening two tries in match to establish a 14-0 lead. The Impalas D4 will now face the Findlay Scars this weekend.
In the Midwest premiership, the Palmer College Dragons won comfortably against the Kansas City Blues, they now sit at 4-3 on the season. The Chicago Griffins won an intense affair against cross town rivals, the Chicago Lions, 30-29. The Milwaukee Barbarians fell by one point to the St. Louis Bombers, 22-21. The Cincinnati Wolfhounds fell just short of their maiden victory for the year, as Columbus Rugby held them at bay, 30-22.