Top Four Teams in the East Battle for Top Position

D1A Rugby: Top Four Teams in the East Battle for Top Position
Photo Credit: Mimi Goodman

The top four team in the East will play each other this weekend. Some only have one match remaining while others still have three. The results of all the games late in the season will have direct implications on the final standings in the East Conference.

#4 Penn State vs. #17 Wheeling Jesuit

Penn State is a perfect 6-0 so far and have tallied up an equally impressive 316-point differential. The Nittany Lions’ notable campaign is highlighted by two shut out wins against West Virginia and Buffalo as well as impressive defeat of Army 29-13. Penn State’s undefeated record will be tested as they close the season against two D1A Rugby Top 20 teams. The Golden Bears will be a difficult team to beat in Kutztown, PA but Penn State must first take care of Wheeling Jesuit.

The Cardinals’ four game winning streak was only interrupted by a loss to West Point. Wheeling Jesuit bounced right back from their loss against the Black Knights to beat Buffalo 29-7. With two matches left against Penn State and Delaware, Wheeling Jesuit will most likely extend their current 5-1 record to 6-2. That being said, Wheeling Jesuit showed the East conference that it could battle with the best when the Cardinals upset Kutztown 33-22. A Wheeling Jesuit upset could have huge implications on the end of season table standings.

#7 Army vs. #13 Kutztown

Army has already played seven games and only lost once to Penn State on October 8th. The Golden bears will be the Black Knights’ last contest of the season and last chance to climb the table to first place in the East. Army will be out to revenge last year’s 26-39 loss to Kutztown and will face them in West Point.

The Golden Bears have recovered since their surprise loss in wee three to Wheeling Jesuit with two huge wins over St. Bonaventure and Delaware, 60-36, and 62-19. Kutztown will face their toughest two opponents in the conference, Army and Pen State, and will have to remain unbeaten through them both to stay in contention for the top of the East conference. Not only will the Golden Bears need the victory points but will also need to prevent Army and Penn State, who both sit above Kutztown at the top of the table, from gaining anymore additional points.

Iona vs. Buffalo

Iona, 2-4, will be hungry to win their last two games to end the season 4-4. Their victory against West Virginia, 73-14 was a reminder of the high level rugby the Gaels are capable of. Iona now face Buffalo followed by St. Bonaventure. St. Bonaventure, Iona and Buffalo sit in 5th, 6th, and 7th place, respectively. The three teams are only separated by 6 point and so will make these last few games very interesting to watch.

Buffalo recently won its first Rugby East win against Delaware, 71-22. The Bulls end the season against Iona, West Virginia and Kutztown. Buffalo could possibly steal a couple wins from the season and will earn valuable experience.

Delaware vs. St. Bonaventure

Before ending their season against Wheeling Jesuit on November 5th, Delaware will play against St. Bonaventure. The 0-5 Blue Hens have yet to record a conference win since returning from suspension. This match up against St. Bonaventure will be Delaware’s best chance to earn a win this fall.

Likewise, St. Bonaventure has had a tough season. Their four losses this season have come at the hands of the conferences four D1A Rugby Top 20. Against non-ranked opponents, St. Bonaventure is 2-0. They will surely back themselves in their last two matches against Delaware and Iona, with hopes to end the season 4-4.