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Old Blue claimed the first of four legs of the Northeast Sevens Championship Series with a cup victory in the Monmouth 7s tournament. The New York side outlasted Mystic River in the final 29-19 to take the top spot.
Both finalists reached USA Rugby nationals in Des Moines last year, and despite missing some key figures from last year, each are looking strong. Mystic River is without several players from last year, including playmaker Pono Haitsuka, who is playing in the pro rugby league. Old Blue too is missing key players Nate Augspurger, James Bird and Luke Hume.
Despite the revamped rosters, both teams played at an extremely high level. With a talented Connecticut Bulldogs side and the always-dangerous NYAC, the northeast is a very tough region this summer.
“The competition was excellent throughout the day,” said NSCS Tournament Director Jerry Mirro.
Both Old Blue and Mystic River saw the depth of the Northeast in pool play. Both teams fell in their final pool play matches and finished 2nd in their respective groups. Old Blue blew a late lead to the Bulldogs and NYAC soundly defeated Mystic. Each team righted the ship, however, winning comfortably over the other group winners in the semifinals.
Richie Kirkland opened the final with a try for Old Blue. The speedster had a strong weekend netting six tries, including a hat trick in the final.
Mystic struck back though, taking a 7-5 lead. A former Ct. Bulldog, however, Sean McGarritty gave Old Blue a 12-7 advantage. Kirkland netted his second on a chased down kick right before halftime and got his third right after the break to extend the lead to 24-7.
The Mystics got one back but Gavan D’Amore-Morrison sealed the match with a late try. Mystic River scored a consolation try and the match ended 29-19.
“Old Blue was definitely the premier team of the day,” Mirro concluded. “They moved the ball, they played good D, and their communication was good. Right now they are the team to beat.”
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