BALTIMORE, MD — The Baltimore Dockers have claimed the Battle of the Beltway series with a 13-point victory against the Washington Eagles in a fierce encounter at Lansdowne Middle School on Saturday.
It was the third straight victory for the Dockers, with two games remaining in the five-game series. The Eagles were hoping to get their first victory against their crosstown rival after two closely contested losses earlier this summer, but the Dockers didn’t budge, and added another victory to their untainted metro-series record in season 2017.
DC was scheduled to host their first metro game of the year, but a rain storm forced a relocation to Baltimore at the last minute. And conditions remained slippery, with light rain and wind interfering throughout the day. The result was a highly contested game, with both sides struggling to gain clean possession and ball movement.
Possession started to lean slightly in favor of the Dockers toward the end of the first quarter, but neither team could quite get a hold of offensive momentum due to heavy winds. The first quarter ended with Baltimore leading 13-10.
The Dockers opened a 13-point gap at half-time, looking the more energetic of the two sides going into the main break. But the Eagles were able to edge back in the third quarter, reducing the margin to four points at one stage, and being within a kick at the final change.
The intensity of both teams lifted in the do-or-die final quarter. The Eagles scrambled the ball forward on a number of occasions, but failed to convert on the scoreboard with the Dockers putting a loose man in defense. That strategy worked for the hosts, with Baltimore rebounding out of the backline and increasing their margin to defeat Washington by 13 points.
Dockers player-coach Dean Vigus said that the victory was credited to continued development in practice, which has focused on ball movement.
“We’ve been trying to play to our strengths and working to get all the boys in the right positions,” Vigus said. “We just wanted to play the game on our terms, and let them chase us. We knew that if we held onto the ball longer, we would be in the hot-seat to take the game.”
Vigus also acknowledged the progression of new players, including Jake Melville, a first-time Aussie rules player and a previous American football quarterback at Colgate University. Melville had a tryout with the Atlanta Falcons as a wide-receiver and just missed his chance to play in the NFL before moving to Baltimore and joined the Dockers.
Eages player-coach Dannie Seow recognized the Eagle’’s inability to gain offensive momentum.
“The first quarter actually wasn’t too bad, we just weren’t scoring. We just kept missing goals,” Seow said. “When you’re with the wind, you want to hit as many goals as possible. We just missed our chances.”
Vigus and Seow both acknowledged how important the Battle of the Beltway series is for both teams in preparing for EAFL and USAFL games this season.
“This game is harder than some of the USAFL games that we play,” Vigus said. “It’s good for us, because when you see how competitive these guys are on the field in the metros, you know they’re going to bring that even more when we’re all playing as one unit.”
Baltimore and Washington reunite as a single team when they travel to Chicago to play against the Swans on August 12, and look to continue their five-game winning streak.
Baltimore – 8.9.57
Washington – 6.8.44