There’s a fence for the P.E.I. Hunter’s Ale House Mudmen rugby team to climb in its semifinal battle against Halifax RFC on Sunday in Charlottetown.
A roadblock in place after the Mudmen failed in three previous chances to reach the N.S. Men’s Rugby League Division 1 final.
In these new times of Mudmen success (it’s a two-time Division 2 champ) the goal this time is to each the top level final now that P.E.I. is back in the top division.
“It’s kind of big deal to get over that hump,’’ said Phil Gallant, a long-time member of the club. “We’re healthy, in good shape. No excuses. Whoever is the best team on that day (wins).’’
Game time is 11 a.m. at Co-op Field.
The Mudmen (7-3) moved up into Division 1 this season from Division 2 and had a mixed start, going 3-2 over its first fives games including two blowouts losses to Halifax Tars (8-1-1).
Another loss came against Halifax RFC (5-4-1) last month in a 23-19 defeat in Halifax.
But P.E.I. regrouped and went 4-1 over the second half of the season.
In part, said John MacDonald, six years a Mudmen outside centre, because the Mudmen solidified its lineup.
“(Early) I think we had a mixture of guys coming in and out. (Later) there was a lot more consistency, a lot more effort,’’ said the Cornwall native. “In the last game we had a lot of success with our forwards, but were (missing some players) and were weaker in the backfield. They exploited our weakness for a lot of success in our backfield. We’re working hard to counter that. (Now) we have our regular lineup. We’re a lot stronger in the backfield.’’
Brodie MacDonald (no relation to John) sees the team’s better finish to the season a similar way.
He said an often shifting lineup is a normal feature given the league isn't a pro circuit and players have lives to attend to outside the games.
The six-year fly half from Brackley said the still-evolving Mudmen must limit turnovers and infractions against HRFC to reach the final.
“The biggest thing is not to put the ball in their hands with penalties,’’ said Brodie.
“I think we’re still making adjustments. We have a good core, (but) guys are still leaving now. It’s faster and quicker, but that’s the team we’ve always been.’’
Sunday’s winner moves into the final against the winner of the Halifax Tars-Enfield semi.
On the web at www.rugbyns.ns.ca.