The 2015 USARL competition has now reached the North Division Finals, only three weeks away from the Championship Final in Jacksonville on August 29.
By Julian Clarkstone
This week sees the Philadelphia Fight take on the Northern Virginia Eagles, representing the Mid-Atlantic, and the Boston 13s are taking on the Rhode Island Rebellion in the North-East. The winners of these respective games are due to take on each other next week in the North Conference Final.
The Rebellion has lost to the 13s by convincing margins in their two previous encounters, but after a high scoring win against the Brooklyn Kings last week, it may just give them the confidence to score an upset. The Rebellion piled on 54 points against the Kings, a team with a better defensive record in 2015. 13s coach Robin Peers is not looking into the previous two clashes as an indicator of this match and just wants his team to concentrate on the job ahead.
“I thought it would be tough for the Rebellion to get through against the Kings, which they did. You can never write a team off, so we have to prepare well just like every other week,” Peers said.
The 13s will be doing their best to ensure that this week’s game is as strong of a performance as each of their previous five encounters, which were all victories. The last loss the 13s experienced was in round 3, against the Philadelphia Fight, who they could face next week if both teams were to win. Despite the unbeaten run, Peers believes there is a long way to go for his team.
“Even though we won our round 8 game convincingly, there were a number of aspects that I was not happy with and we’ve been working to address these,” Peers stated.
The week off can go either way for teams in the playoffs. On one hand some teams enjoy the rest and freshen up, whilst others rue the chance to be pushed hard before a game that is guaranteed to test them physically. The 13s will be looking to their key players to lead the way in their first playoff game after the bye last week. They will be looking to the likes of Hawaiian winger, Ubran Iyo as well as Marcos Flegmann and Lucas Baistrocci who were selected in the 35 man Pre-select squad for the USA Hawks.
“Urban is an absolute flyer who has scored ten tries in six games and Marcos was a standout for the USA Pioneers against Leeds Rhinos in January. Lucas has applied himself very well in his first rugby league season after recently graduating from college,” Peers added.
Three players from the 13s have also been sent to the USA Hawks combine for the selectors to take a look at, being Ryan Forgione, Curtis Goddard and Tyler Ierardi. With strong showings at the combine these players can be added to the 35 man Pre-Select squad.
This week shapes to be an exciting game for the Rebellion and the 13s, who will need strong performances to proceed to the Conference Final next week. Boston have been rewarded for their efforts this season with a home game, which will take place at the Irish Cultural Center in Boston this weekend at 1pm.
- Aug 8: (North-East) Boston 13s vs Rhode Island Rebellion @ Irish Cultural Center Boston (1pm)
- Aug 8: (Mid-Atlantic) Philadelphia Fight vs Northern Virginia Eagles @ A. A. Garthwaite Stadium (5pm)