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The second weekend of the American Rugby Premiership was marked on the calendar ever since the DI National Semifinal this past spring. In the rematch, Old Blue led the entire match to defeat Mystic River in New York, 29-22. Playing on a dry field, Old Blue’s dominant forward pack was relentless as the club moved to 2-0 in the league. For the battle of Boston, the Boston Irish overcame a late first half deficit to beat Boston, 27-22.
In May, Mystic River narrowly beat Old Blue, 10-5, to advance to the championship final on a muddy field in Pittsburgh, Pa. This weekend’s rendition was playing on Old Blue’s immaculate pitch and showcased both team’s potential.
Old Blue revamped its offensive philosophy and results were proven on the pitch. “We’ve been working a lot in the last couple of weeks on our offensive pattern,” captain Alex Schwarz. “We want to play in the opposite end of the field and force [our opponent] to make the errors. Sticking with the pattern, we have to execute our set pieces. The whole forward pack stood up as a group and we didn’t lose a single set piece. The structure and the work rate in the forward pack [was exceptional], especially in the front row.”
Old Blue didn’t let an early yellow card dampen its spirits as James Bird exploited a gap in the Mystic defense and dished Taye Daniel-Ayibiowu for the first points of match. Mystic responded almost immediately when Robbie Malneek split the line and passed to Alatasi Tupou for the try. Tied at 7 all, Old Blue’s Sean McGarrity got in on the action offloading to Dylan Fawsitt to score under the posts. After a Bird penalty brought the tally to 17-7, the clubs traded tries to finish the half as Old Blue led, 22-12.
The scoring was quiet to open the second half, but Mystic closed the gap to three points in the 60th minute with a converted try. With ten minutes left, Old Blue Man of the Match Dean Muir was the benefactor of some impressive set piece work to score the dagger for his team. Mystic did connect on a penalty at the buzzer, but it was Old Blue’s day winning 29-22.
With the high quality of play between the two clubs over the past few seasons, Schwarz said, “We consider [Mystic] our biggest rivals up there with NYAC. We’re always stoked to get a win against those guys. I don’t think it quite makes up for the National Semifinals, but it’s nice.”
The play of Dean Muir stood out all match. Schwarz stated that the South Africa hooker was “an absolute workhorse and probably one of the top fittest guys in the club. He’s got a bullet of the lineout and he played an awesome game from start to finish.”
With a bye week to prepare for NYAC on October 1st, Old Blue will strive to shore up its weaknesses. “NYAC is our cross-town rivals so it’s always good to have a win against them. We definitely have some work to do before then, so we are pretty happy we have two weeks to clean up some things. Yesterday, we got a good win, but I reckon we got 75% of our ability as we didn’t play well in the second half at all. We are really looking forward to that NYAC game and we would love to round out the year going 4-0 against them.”
In the battle for Boston in Weymouth, Mass., the Boston Irish Wolfhounds took the first round winning 27-22. The Boston Irish evened its record to 1-1, while Boston fell to 2-0. The teams will play again on October 29th for the 2016 city bragging rights.
The Wolfhounds took the lead almost immediately in the match with a try by Mark Kavanagh. Boston’s Richard Lobb nailed a penalty soon after and then tries were exchanged to make the score 12-8 after 16 minutes of play. A try by Alex Castro gave Boston its first lead of the game at 13-12, but Patrick Owen tied it up for the Wolfhounds a few minutes later with a penalty. Cathal Finneran’s try at the 30th minute mark earned the Boston Irish the 20-15 advantage at halftime.
Starting with a man advantage after a Boston yellow at the end of the half, the Wolfhounds pounced as Paul Taylor increased the tally to 27-15 with a score. Two more yellows were issued in the half as discipline waned as the game drew on. Boston used the extra man to score in the 70th minute, but was unable to get any closer as the Irish won, 27-22.
The Boston Irish will host NYAC next Saturday and Boston will travel to Malden to face Mystic River.