Milwaukee Harlequins improve to 2-2 record following confident win over visiting Metropolis rugby.

Crossroads, mile stones, turning points and must-wins. All are phrases used to describe important points in a sports season.

Saturday’s match was one and all of these moments in the Milwaukee Harlequins season with the club looking to obtain some recognition from anyone that they belong in Division I rugby.

Many commentators of Midwest rugby pointed to the Harlequins’ first 2 games against the Palmer dragons and Chicago Lions as an indication that the Harlequins were another division two team out of its depth, and were showing no sign of improvement over their previous year’s 1-6 record.

A close win over Lincoln Park only seemed to solidify this impression with the game being seen by some as a contest between two good division two teams.

Metropolis (Minneapolis, MN) were next on the Harlequins schedule. Metropolis had snatched a win from the Harlequins in the dying seconds in the 2009 season in an exhilarating match, and were heading to Milwaukee with a 4-1 record in their pocket. Expectation from both sides was very high.

Since all this hype was beyond the control of the Harlequins, the club focused their efforts on the task at hand and used the bye week to prepare.

They worked hard on foundation rugby and controlling the ball at the rucks. The backline worked on opportunities to develop some cohesion that, through injuries and personal commitments, has escaped them so far this season.

Finally, on the day of the 35th Anniversary of the club, game day was finally upon us. From the kick-off the Harlequins used a strong forward presence and hard controlled scrimmaging to keep the Metropolis pack out of the back field. The tight play was rewarded when Mark Fine, the Harlequins scrum half, was able to quickly pick the ball from the base of the ruck and run 30 meters to score the first try of the game. Dom Kasten converted to make the score 7-0.

The match continued with strong defense and a 10 minute period of play in the visitors 22 that involved at least a dozen scrums and two changes of possession. Through the scrummaging and forward play the Harlequins controlled more and more of the game and were rewarded with a try in the corner by winger Nate Olson: 12-0 Harlequins.

The lop-sided scoreline seemed to spark life into Metropolis as they responded with a successful attack, driving deep into Harlequin territory. Sustained pressure by the backs, confidence from the forwards in the loose play and effective at mauling from the line outs forced multiple penalties from the Harlequins. Metropolis used this strategy to good effect and, from a 5 meter line-out, and drove over for their first try of the game, 12-5.

The final points of the half were off the boot of the Harlequins’ fly-half Dom Kasten. After another period of sustained play in Metropolis’s 22, Harlequin’s captain Ben smith opted for the points after a penalty in front of the posts.

Half time 15-5.

The second half could not have started any better for the Harlequins. On their first drive into Metropolis territory, Dom Kasten broke through the defense and then converted his own try to extend the Harlequin lead 22-5.

The next 15 minutes saw metropolis on the attack and the Harlequins defending on their heels. The Metropolis forwards again mauled over the line for a second try: 22-13 for Milwaukee.

In the final 20 minutes, both back-lines produced some entertaining breaks. If not for some stout defense and unfortunate knock-on’s, both sides could have been in contention for a 4-try bonus point.

With the memory of their 2009 loss to Metro fresh in their minds, the harlequins spent the final minutes of the game playing controlled, percentage rugby with the final score unchanged: a 22-13 victory for Milwaukee.

With a firm grasp on 4th place in Midwest Division I rugby and all the teams set for a re-match, are the Harlequins still being dismissed? I guess we’ll have to wait for the media to take notice of the last 3 weeks of rugby action, in particular today’s turning-point, must-win match that officially makes the Harlequins 2010 campaign more successful than 2009.

Mike Loader
Mike Loader
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