Milwaukee secures home field advantage for Midwest semifinal.

With a hard-fought draw against Milwaukee RFC, the Barbarians conclude an undefeated regular season and look towards the playoffs: hosting the Eastside Banshees on 11/4 at Brown Deer Park. 

Pressure to secure a home semifinal

With last week’s victory over Green Bay, the Barbarians had clinched a spot in the Midwest playoffs against the Eastside Banshees from Minnesota. But home field advantage was still up for grabs in that semifinal. 

The Barbarians needed 2 more match points to force the Banshees to travel, and today’s match against MRFC gave them three opportunities:

  • 4 points for a win.
  • 2 points for a draw.
  • 2 points for a loss less than 7 while scoring 4 or more tries. 

The Banshees have only lost once this season, and the loss came during an away match. So the pressure to obtain those 2 league points and secure home field advantage was intense.

And having played many tight matches against MRFC in recent years, the Barbarians were taking nothing for granted in today’s Mikwaukee derby.

MRFC dominates the first half

The match began with caution as both sides took the measure of their opponent. But a long and clinical period from MRFC, and some handling errors from the Barbarians, gave an early territorial advantage to the visitors.

After sustained pressure in the Barbarians red zone, MRFC scored a patient, physical try to take the lead 5-0. 

The 1st half continued mostly in the same manner with MRFC dominating possession and grinding out two more tries to a 19-3 lead.

But as halftime approached, the Barbarians offense found a series of successes leading to a converted try. At the whistle, they had narrowed their deficit to just seven with a 19-10 scoreline to the visitors.

Barbarians build steadily in the second half

After the break, the Barbarians continued to claw their way back into the match. The error rate for the hosts dropped, and some substitutions bolstered the roster.

Numerous stolen lineouts also saw the Barbarians gain back some of the ground lost in the possession statistics in the first half. 

But MRFC were still hungry, defended well, and had a lot of success poaching possession from Barbarian rucks. As a result, the second half felt like a very tight affair.

But the Barbarians defended strongly and continued to press on offense. As full time approached, they had earned two tries and a conversion while holding MRFC to just a penalty kick. 

Score: 22-a-piece!

A mature decision to guarantee home field advantage

With time nearly expired, the Barbarians knew they had enough league points to secure home field advantage if they could at least maintain the current scoreline. But a late penalty awarded to the Barbarians inside the MRFC half made for a difficult decision.

The first instinct would be to kick for the corner and use the lineout as a platform to try to win the match. The risk would be an error resulting in MRFC possession and a long-range try. With only 3 tries on the scoreboard for the Barbarians, a loss like this would net only one league point and give the Banshees home-field advantage.

But cooler heads prevailed. Veteran flanker Jeff Cebe suggested that rather than risk a loss and perhaps even a last-minute injury, it might be wiser to kick the ball into touch and forgo the lineout altogether. Captain Tom Fossell ageed, bringing the nail-biting spectacle to an end. 

With the final score of 22-22, the Barbarians completed an undefeated regular season with a 7-0-1 record.

Final Regular Season Standings

MILWAUKEE BARBARIANS870134212421860036
GREEN BAY RUGBY852134819914961029
MILWAUKEE RUGBY84312041802452124
FOX VALLEY MAORI8260252375-12351014
CHICAGO LIONS D28071124392-2682013

Midwest semi-final – 11/4 at 1PM

On Saturday, the Barbarians will host the Eastside Banshees at Brown Deer Park at 1PM

Match video

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Vic Drover
Vic Drover

Vic has a long history in and around the sport of rugby both in Canada and the US. He has played for and started numerous clubs (Vandal's RFC, Strathcona Druids, Suffolk Bull Moose, West Side Harlequins, Milwaukee Barbarians, Hamilton Girls Rugby), and served many roles over the years at all administrative levels. Vic joined the Harlequins in 2007 and remained an active club member through the transition to the Barbarians. These days, he spends his rugby time playing tag rugby and touring with the Old Boys, keeping the club website updated, helping organize the Lakefront 7s, and fundraising.

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