Harlequins start CARFU Cup campaign with a win over the Irish.

Opening day delivered perfect rugby weather as the Milwaukee Harlequins travelled to Chicago on Saturday for the first match of the 2011 CARFU Cup against the South Side Irish. With only one outdoor practice this season, the Harlequins were looking forward to reacquainting themselves with this foreign substance called ‘grass’.
As some of the top Harlequins are either resting for the Fall Division I season or on loan to Super League, the match was a unique opportunity for our younger players to step up, demonstrate their skills and secure a starting position on the team. The starting XV included eight players in a position they did not play for the team last season and five players had never started at this level.

A-side report: Harlequins 40 – 30 South Side Irish

The Irish have been training outside for a while and are earnestly preparing for a run at the Division II national championship and a Fall promotion to Divison I. Thus, the Harlequins knew that there would be a target on their backs with the Irish looking to take the match to visitors.

From some scouting reports via Coach Sharp, the Harlequins were expecting the Irish to attack with the boot, the forward pack and their outside center-fullback combo.

Not surprisingly, the Irish stayed ‘on script’. They had the wind in the first have and made use of the boot and put the back three of the Harlequins to the test.

The first 5 minutes were fast and full of action. The attacking back combination of Mitch, Dom and Vinny provided the team with a stable base to make attacking back-line runs in the center and out wide.

Once play settled into a rhythm it was, as one might expect for the team on its first outing, a lot of stop-and-go with flowing rugby interrupted too often with unnecessary breakdowns. However, the quality of the teams’ senior members showed through, with the experienced players leading the way and making sure the team stayed focused on the tasks at hand and the style of play the Harlequins have become known for.

Overall the game was well-controlled with periods of effective, structured play. In the first three quarters however, lapses in concentration after Harlequin scores allowed the Irish to continue to answer back and keep the contest close. This was sorted by the lads in the last 20 minutes of the game and the Harlequins pulled away to seal the 40-30 victory.

The game management in these last 20 minutes showed the rugby intelligence of the team and creates a great platform for this weeks home-opener against Clinton Muddy River

B-side report: Harlequins 19 – 15 South Side Irish

With a number of people playing out of position the Hit Squad started the match with 13 forwards on the field.

They were strong in the scrums, effective in the rucks and there was a even exchange of turn over ball.

Most impressive was that from watching the first game many people adjusted for the second phase and third phase ball and shut down many developing Irish overloads. Line-outs were high-quality with Rudy bringing the ball down and getting it out cleanly.

Luke had a number of breakaway runs which resulted in him getting an early score.

All-in-all, the Hit Squad stayed focused and played Harlequin rugby. There were some frenzied moments but the boys were able to reel it back and control the game to a 19-15 victory.

Mike Loader
Mike Loader
Articles: 18