CANTON, MA – The Mystics came out firing against the Wolfhounds in a sunny Canton on Saturday afternoon, but struggled to convert their aggression and possession into points. The small field and slightly wet conditions underfoot meant that both sides managed very disruptive defensive play, but couldn’t put too much offense together. The Mystics made it well into ‘Hounds territory on a number of occasions in the first half, but only managed to get the opening three points from the boot of Paul Penman early in the half. Despite some very physical defense and some big hits from the boys in blue, the ‘Hounds took advantage of a penalty in the Mystics’ 22 to push home a converted try, leaving the half time score at 3-7 to the Wolfhounds.
The Mystics came out firing in the second half and started to move the big Wolhounds pack around the park with much more structured rugby. The tight five, led by prop and man of the match, Luke Schlotman, continued their dominance and allowed the Mystics to build up some concerted pressure. Within a few minutes, the pressure told and center Mark Halbach scored under the posts to give the Mystics an 8-7 lead. Paul Penman converted to push the Mystics 10-7 ahead with 10 minutes to play. After a few minutes of pressure, the Wolfhounds forced a penalty just inside Mystic territory. The kick squeezed in off the upright, bringing the scores level at 10-10 with minutes to play. With a minute left to play, the Wolfhounds managed to force another penalty in Mystic territory, but pulled the kick left. The Mystics managed to get the ball in hand, but didn’t have enough time to change the score, leaving the scores tied at the end of play. Both teams couldn’t believe the result, but the final result was a draw, leaving the Briar Cup in Mystic hands for a second year.
The B-side match was also really physical to start, with both sides not giving an inch. There was a lot of back and forth before Rob Howes managed to get the Mystics on the board with a try under the posts. Mike Cirbee managed to convert the kick, bringing the game even. After the half, the match started to open up, and the boys managed to pull away as the Wolfhounds pack started to tire. Three more tries were scored by Rob Howes, Drew Shalian and Steve Copacino to put the game squarely into Mystic hands, despite the game starting to get a bit scrappy. A lot of gents played out of their boots, but man of the match went to Mystic stalwart Joseph Kimemiah for a strong performance on the wing.
The A side result leaves the Mystics fourth in the league, with next week’s showdown against Middlesex becoming much more important in terms of seeding for the end of season playoffs, as Middlesex lead the Mystics on the league table due to a greater point differential. The boys in blue will be back in Malden for this critical match, and will need all the support they can get in this penultimate league game.