CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The rubber hits the road today when the Hunter’s Corner Mudmen RFC and the Dartmouth PigDogs RFC tangle in Rugby Nova Scotia first division semifinal action in Charlottetown.
Game time is 2 p.m. at Co-op Field and Phil Gallant knows getting back to basics is the Mudmen’s linchpin if it wants a second straight division one title.
“The key to winning this weekend is defence. We know we have a strong offence and can score points, but it’s a matter of keeping them off the board to be successful,” said Gallant, a longtime player and club organizer. “We want to play aggressive and neutralize their forward game. Our set pieces are strong, and we hope to use that to control the game.”
The Mudmen earned a direct berth in the semi after going 7-0 in the regular season. It has home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Dartmouth (3-4) finished off Enfield 33-12 in last week’s quarter-finals.
In the teams’ first meeting this season in Charlottetown, the Mudmen outgunned the PigDogs 31-12; a close game given the Mudmen outscored opponents this season 382-85.
Gallant’s division one squad hasn’t played since clinching home field versus Halifax RFC earlier this month, but he’s not worried about rusty play.
“It was only a one-week layoff so we don't see it being an issue. We practice hard, so we never get rusty. In the playoff push we keep strong practices as to not miss a step,” he said, adding team is healthy all things considered. “Just bumps and bruises and a bit of late-season fatigue. Veteran players know what this time of year means and how you feel physically so a lot of guys do what they need to feel healthy.”
Should the Mudmen win, the club moves into the final against the winner of the Halifax Tars-Pictou County semi matchup.
The Tars (6-1) finished second, losing its only regular season game to the Mudmen 27-24 in Halifax, but earned the second automatic semifinal berth.
Pictou County (4-3) defeated Halifax RFC 25-22 to reach the final four. It dropped a 47-15 decision to the Mudmen earlier this season in Charlottetown.