One of the two remaining undefeated teams, the Częstochowa Saints, was shut out in the PLFA II quarterfinals, while the other, the Warszawa Królewscy, needed overtime to advance in a wild weekend that saw the Seahawks B team and the Wilki join the Królewscy and the Devils B team in gaining berths in the semifinals. The Seahawks will have the luxury of staying home to host the Devils in one of the games, while the Królewscy will welcome the Wilki to the capital in the other. By virtue of the fact that the Seahawks and Devils are ineligible for promotion to PLFA I, the Wilki and the Królewscy both will be allowed to play in that upper league next season. Here is a brief recap of each of the four quarterfinal games.
Gdynia Seahawks B 40, Sopot Sabercats 27 (in Gdynia)
Aleksander Kordyś ran for three touchdowns in the first half to put the Sopot Sabercats into a big early hole, as the Gdynia Seahawks B team did enough to hold off their Tri-Cities rivals to win the PLFA II quarterfinal matchup between the two 40-27. The Seahawks will move on to host the Wrocław Devils B team in the semifinals on October 6.
Played under the lights of the National Rugby Stadium, Friday evening's game got off to an even start as the teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter. Kordyś then started the second with a 15-yard scoring pass to Kamil Lipka-Wszołczyk that gave the Seahawks a 12-7 lead, before running in twice to make it 28-7 at the break.
The Sabercats got closer in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to two scores on Luke Zetazate's second touchdown pass of the game, a 32-yarder to Przemysław Portalski. Paweł Kosiński then scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to close the gap to 34-27 late in the game, but Sopot was unable to recover the onside kick and the Seahawks added an insurance score before the final whistle blew at ten minutes past midnight.
Sopot's 2013 campaign thusly ended the way it began, with a defeat to the Seahawks. Gdynia won the season opener at Sopot 24-20 in April. The Seahawks got more good news later in the weekend, when the previously unbeaten Częstochowa Saints fell to the Devils, a result that allows the Seahawks the luxury of another postseason home game.
Pabianice Wilki 12, Skoczów Pretorians 6 (in Pabianice)
The Wilki and the Pretorians squared off on Sunday in what was perhaps the most important PLFA II quarterfinal, as the winner would be guaranteed a place in the 2014 PLFA I lineup no matter how they fare the rest of the way in this year's playoffs. In the end, the Wilki came away with the spoils, gritting out a victory in a defensive battle with a late touchdown that broke a 6-6 tie.
Both teams came in with 5-1 records, indicating that the game would be a closely fought one, and the contest indeed lived up to that billing. The Wilki took the lead on a 4-yard touchdown run by Kamil Kaczmarek in the first quarter, before Michał Bury answered for the Pretorians with a 6-yard touchdown run to tie the game in the second quarter.
Neither team would score in the third quarter, setting up a tense finish. Pabianice finally went ahead on Patryk Mleczek's 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and their defense would hold Skoczów off the board to preserve the win. The Wilki were helped to victory with two blocked punts in the contest.
While the Wilki can now set their sights on success in PLFA I next season, their more immediate task is to try to reach the PLFA II championship. They will need to win just one more game to achieve that goal, and that game will come against a familiar opponent when the Wilki travel to Warsaw to face the undefeated Królewscy in the semifinals on October 5. Warszawa defeated Pabianice 19-0 in their regular-season meeting back in June.
Wrocław Devils B 21, Częstochowa Saints 0 (in Częstochowa)
The Częstochowa Saints' unbeaten run came to an abrupt end at home on Sunday, as the Wrocław Devils B team rolled into town and went away with a 21-0 victory in the PLFA II quarterfinals. The Devils, who went 4-2 in the regular season, had previously given the Saints their toughest test of the year in a 23-20 loss in Częstochowa in July.
The first half elapsed quickly, with neither team getting on the scoreboard. The Devils had two excellent chances to put up some points, but they turned the ball over twice inside the Częstochowa red zone to leave the scored tied at naughts going into the locker room.
Wrocław finally broke the deadlock in the third quarter, on a 20-yard touchdown reception by Adam Góralski. Ernest Rogowicz made it 15-0 with a short touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and the Saints and their run-based attack was unable to respond. Marcin Pryjma fell on a Saints fumble at the Częstochowa 1-yard line and Devils quarterback Krzysztof Wydrowski punched it in from there to provide the exclamation point on the Wrocław victory.
The Devils go into the next round as the lowest remaining seed, meaning that they will be on the road the rest of the way. They will undertake one of the longest road trips in the PLFA for their semifinal matchup, traveling all the way to Gdynia to take on the Seahawks B team on October 6.
Warszawa Królewscy 13, Szczecin Cougars 7 (in Warsaw)
Held off of the scoreboard for most of the game, the Królewscy got a late touchdown to force overtime against the Cougars before Mateusz Szczęk scored in the extra period to put Warszawa into the semifinals. The win also guaranteed that the Królewscy would have a spot in PLFA I during the 2014 season.
Szczecin got the only score of the first half, a 4-yard touchdown run by quarterback Andrzej Łukasik in the second quarter. The Królewscy finally tied the game in the fourth quarter, when Karol Żak hit Konrad Wojnarowski with a 3-yard touchdown pass and Jakub Mroczyński successfully booted through the extra point.
The Cougars got the ball first in the extra frame and got as far as the 1-yard line before being turned away on a dramatic fourth-down stand by the Królewscy defense. A few plays later, Szczęk scored from four yards out, and the Królewscy had preserved their unblemished record and moved on into the semifinals.
After the Częstochowa Saints were defeated by the Wrocław Devils B team on Sunday, the Królewscy were left as the only unbeaten team left in the playoffs. That means they will spend the rest of the playoffs at home. Their semifinal game will come on October 5, when the Pabianice Wilki visit the capital.
PLFA II SEMIFINALS SCHEDULE (SUBJECT TO CHANGE--HOME TEAM FIRST):
Saturday, October 5, Time TBA: Warszawa Królewscy (7-0) vs. Pabianice Wilki (6-1)
Sunday, October 6, Time TBA: Gdynia Seahawks B (6-1) vs. Wrocław Devils B (5-2)