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FIDDLER'S FACTS: Mudmen begin title defence today

The Hunter's Ale House Mudmen practised Tuesday at Co-op field for the beginning of the rugby season.
The Hunter's Ale House Mudmen practised this spring at Co-op Field for the beginning of the rugby season.

Enfield coming to Charlottetown for Nova Scotia Rugby division 2 semifinal

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

The Hunter’s Ale House Mudmen can book a spot in the Rugby Nova Scotia division 2 final with a win today.

The Mudmen (7-0-1) finished first in the nine-team circuit while today’s opponent Enfield (5-1-2) finished fourth. Game time is noon at Co-op Field off Belvedere Avenue in Charlottetown.
The winner of the sudden-death game advances to the league final against the victor of the Halifax Tars-Eastern Shore contest. If the Mudmen win today, they’ll host the championship game next Saturday.
The Mudmen won the league title a year ago to earn the Shannon Cup before capturing the Wheaton Cup as Maritime champs.
The Charlottetown-based club is an interesting mix of players from across the province. Recent Bluefield graduate and inside centre Gavin MacAleer has been impressive from the start of the season as has 32-year-old rookie Darcy Beck, who has both speed and toughness in his game. Another who can fly is Brandon Thomas, who has played everywhere for the Mudmen, and can be a difference maker.
Veterans Ryan MacDonald and Shaun Younker are pushing 40 but haven’t slowed down, making crucial plays time and again for the locals. To win today, the Mudmen will need every man to do their job – no passengers in this game.
The coaching staff, including Mike Lloyd, Leigh Reid, Kyle Robertson and Forrest Spencer, has assembled a very strong club and you can see them in action today in their most important game of the season.
Tennis
Tennis does not have a huge following here in this province, but it does have a loyal group that play regularly, people like Wes MacAleer, Nora Henry, Wilma Hambly.
I am certain that interest in the sport will grow quickly after the sudden and dramatic rise of 19-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu, who recently upset Serena Williams in the U.S. Open. She is Canada’s newest sports hero and the darling of the tennis world.


Football
The New England Patriots have had great success in the past with malcontents from other teams like Randy Moss, but they may regret the hasty signing of Antonio Brown, the talented receiver who wore out his welcome with the Pittsburgh Steelers and more recently with Oakland Raiders.
The Patriots looked awesome in smothering the Steelers 33-3 Sunday in their home opener and with receivers like Josh (Flash) Gordon, Julian Edelman and Philip Dorsett, their interest and need to sign the trouble-making Brown has football fans shaking their heads in disbelief.

Harness racing
The P.E.I. Colt Stakes are in the spotlight today at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park with a double card. The afternoon starts at 12:30 p.m. with a 12-dash card and in the evening’s 6:30 p.m. card has 15 dashes.
The afternoon card has four filly divisions at $7,200 and four colt races at $7,000 with the best two-year-olds in the region. Many of those in action today have brothers and sisters in the P.E.I. select sale at Crapaud next month.
Tonight’s card features four divisions of three-year-old colts and three divisions of fillies, plus the open mares with Sodwana Bay, Jordies Hope, Innocent Kiss, Traces of Purple split into two divisions at $3,600.
Rose Run Vantage (by Big Jim) took the $95,000 Champlain stakes for two-year-old filly pacers in 1:51:3 a week ago at Mohawk Raceway for co-owners Wayne MacRae of Nova Scotia and Danny Ross of P.E.I. Congrats to both owners.
There’s a big card at Mohawk tonight with Metro Pace eliminations for two-year-old pacers, the $405,000 Peaceful Way trot, the $605,000 Canadian Trotting Classic and the $370,000 William Wellwood memorial.
A week ago at Scioto Downs, Columbus, Ohio, Courtly Choice (James MacDonald) closed with a big rush and was fourth beaten by a long neck in the $440,000 Jim Ewart memorial, which McWicked won in 1:49. Courtly Choice goes Monday at Harrington Raceway in the $150,000 Quillen memorial.

Pigskin picks
This is a tough Week 2 schedule in the NFL and although I normally don’t make picks until Week 3, we have had requests to start today and readers come first.
Arizona Cardinals (0-1) at Baltimore Ravens (1-0) – The Ravens looked like serious Super Bowl contenders as QB Lamar Jackson tossed five TD passes and the defence did the rest. Granted, they beat a nobody team in Miami, but they were very sharp. Rookie Cardinals QB Kyler Murray looks like a good one, but Baltimore at home is a legit 13-point favourite.
San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) – The Bengals on the road last week should have beaten Seattle as Cincy won the possession game, outplayed the Seahawks and QB Andy Dalton threw for 400-plus yards. The 49ers are 1.5-point road dogs and they should be. I like the Bengals at home.
Buffalo Bills (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1) – The Bills have a terrific defence and a top young quarterback in Josh Allen. They meet a Giants club that has Eli Manning and a great running back in Saquon Barkley, who rushed for 120-plus yards on 11 carries Sunday. The Bills could be a playoff-bound club and are two-point road favourites, which I recommend.
Seattle Seahawks (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) – Both teams played poorly last week. The Steelers were clobbered by the Patriots while the Seahawks were fortunate in a come-from-behind win over Cincinnati in a game where their pass defence allowed 420 yards. Look for a big passing game from Steelers QB Big Ben Roethlisberger in what is a must-win game for Pittsburgh, which is three-point favourites. Neither team is a serious Super Bowl threat. When in doubt, bet the home team.
New Orleans Saints (1-0) at L.A. Rams (1-0) – A rematch of last season’s NFC championship game where the Saints were robbed on that obvious missed pass interference call. Let’s remember, the Rams shutdown the Saints run game then and although my heart is with New Orleans, my money is on the Rams, who are 2.5-point home dogs.

Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at fiddlersfacts@hotmail.com.


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