Today the Barbarians headed to the Cin City 7s (Cincinnati, OH) for the third leg of the Midwest Qualifier series.
Pool A: Barbarians D2 (Milwaukee, WI), Blaze (Chicago, IL), Griffins (Chicago, IL), 1823-A (Columbus, OH).
Pool B: Barbarians D1 (Milwaukee, WI), CARPS (Cleveland, OH), Lions (Chicago, IL), Youngbloodz (Minneapolis, MN).
Pool C: Gazelles (Grand Rapids, MI). Lions-B (Chicago, IL), Wolfhounds (Cincinnati, OH), 1823-B (Columbus, OH).
With 1823 having two first-place finishes this season (in Madison and Milwaukee) totaling 24 points, the pressure was on the Barbarians. With a total of 19 points from 2nd and 3rd place finishes, they were hunting for a first-place finish to challenge for the #1 Midwest seed in the National Club 7s Championship.
D2 gains valuable experience
The Division 2 side was in a tough pool with Midwest 7s series leader 1823-A and the Griffins who have been on an upswing since the start of their Spring fifteens campaign.
But it was the Blaze who the Barbarians met first. Despite a close match with lots of defense form both sides, the Milwaukee rugby team fell 1 try short with a final score of 10-5 for the Blaze.
They suffered a second loss against the Griffins later in the morning. However, the 22-5 loss belied a lot of good work on the pitch.
The final pool match was a lop-sided 41-7 loss versus 1823-A who ran up the scoreboard.
Importantly, the Division 2 side worked hard the entire day and scored against every opponent.
In addition, a number of players gained valuable experience and will continue to challenge for Division 1 spots in the coming weeks.
Pool play barn burner for Division 1
Unlike the first two weeks of the Qualifier series, there were no wide margins for the Barbarians during pool play. The Milwaukee rugby outfit won their first 2 matches — 19-10 vs. CARPS and 24-12 vs. Lions-A — but only a try or two separated the teams.
The third pool match was saw an extremely close contest between and Milwaukee and the Youngbloodz.
After nearly 14 minutes and with the final whistle set to blow at the next stoppage, Milwaukee found themselves down 23-24.
But the Barbarians continued to push and were rewarded with a try at full time to win the match 28-24.
Familiar foes for the championship round matches
The top three seeds in the Championship matches went to the three teams with 3-0-0 records ordered by tries awarded: 1823-A, Wolfhounds, and Barbarians.
The fourth seed went to the next best team overall, Lions-A who were making their first appearance in the top 4 this season.
Milwaukee rugby faced off against the Wolfhounds in the semi-final. In their prior meeting in the pool play on the second leg of the series in Milwaukee, the teams were separated only by a conversion with the home team winning 19-17.
In Cincinnati, things were different. The Barbarians got out to an early lead and never looked back. The match 31-12 win earned another Championship berth for the Barbarians versus another familiar rival, 1823-A.
While prior meetings between these opponents were close through the entire match, 1823 took control early this time despite a very strong start by Milwaukee who very nearly scored after multiple phases on their first possession.
At halftime, 1823 were already ahead 3 tries to none.
Before Milwaukee scored their first try, 1823 already had 4 tries on the board, and that’s when Milwaukee’s conditioning began to pay dividends.
The final 7 minutes of the match were mostly spent in the 1823 red zone, and continued pressure gave Milwaukee a 3 try to 1 advantage in the closing minutes.
But in the end, 1823 held on long enough to seal a third championship 31-22.
Next up - Rock Hard 7s
The Midwest 7s series heads to Grand Rapids, Michigan this week for the 4th installment of the competition.
With 29 points, Milwaukee heads to the Rock Hard 7s at second place in the series.