Philadelphia Whitemarsh RFC defeated James River RFC 32-10 in the MARFU Quarterfinals on Saturday at Memorial Park in their first step this spring in their quest to return to the national championship. Although the weather was beautiful by gametime, the Philadelphia area received a half inch of rain the night before, making the pitch a slippery track. James River hung around and nearly brought came with in a converted try with 15 minutes remaining before PW pulled away with two tries in the final 10 minutes.
The majority of the first 20 minutes was spent in James River's end but the combanation of a slippery ball, good defense, ill timed penalties and a strong boot kept Philly Whitemarsh from getting over the goal line. Finally PW was able to set up on James River's 5 meter line and simple passing to the wing allowed winger Brennan Conway to touch down in the corner putting PW on the board first. A few minutes later, PW was on the move again. Outside center Jim Rosato was able to recover his own kick on the bounce and offload to wing Kurht Engle who fed a streaking inside center Brian Engle who scampered the final 50 meters for a try. PW led 10-0. James River got within striking distance with about 10 minutes left in the half but their kick for points went wide. As the first half came to a close, PW put 5 more on the board when Bob Haller was able to dive across the line after a 5 meter scrum. Rosato's converstion attempt was inches wide and PW led 15-0 at the break.
James River got on the board almost immediately to start the second half, converting a penalty kick from 30 meters out in the 41st minute. The visitors again went for points 10 minutes later but again the kick sailed right. Just when it looked like James River was picking up momentum and was on the verge of their first try, PW scrumhalf Brian Oteri scooped up a loose ball from a lineout and broke several tackles bringing the pill from one 22 to the other. Two phases later found Conway in a familiar spot; the corner of the try zone. PW led 20-3. Undaunted, James River marched right back down the field. Off of a penalty play, the James River hooker picked up a ball and ran in untouched. The conversion put JR down 10 with 20 minutes to go. 5 minutes later, James River again found themselves within striking distance and chose to kick for points from 30 meters but again the ball sailed right. Philly Whitemarsh's defense held off another push from the visitors from Richmond before turning the ball over and advancing down the field. Eventually a 5 meter scrum yielded a a try when PW flyhalf Conway Maraki broke through the line and touched down to put PW up 25-10 and the game out of reach with 5 minutes to go. PW added some insurance off the ensuing kickoff when prop Jay Uli made a long run that was capped off by Rosato touching down and converting his own try. The final score was 32-10.
After the match, both James River and Philadelphia Whitemarsh enjoyed a great drink-up at Fado. Songs were sung and great food and beer was consumed. Thanks for all of those who were involved!
Next weekend, Philly Whitemarsh travels to Pittsburgh for the MARFU Semifinals and Finals. They face Reading RFC (PA) in one semifial while undefeated North Bay RFC (MD) takes on undefeated Roanoke RFC (VA) in the other. This will be the third meeting of PW and Reading this season with PW getting the better of their rivals once in the regular season 29-10 and again in the EPRU Final 58-33.