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With two weeks remaining the fall season of the American Rugby Premiership, the latest chapter of the NYAC and Old Blue epic rivalry was on display Saturday at Randall’s Island, N.Y. After winning the first match 19-13 a month ago, NYAC completed the season sweep against Old Blue winning 30-25. Life completed its Atlantic Cup exhibition with a 43-17 road loss to Mystic River and the Boston Irish blew out Boston, 72-7.
With both teams dealing with injuries, the match between NYAC and Old Blue showed which team had the better depth, especially in the forwards. NYAC led for the entire match as Old Blue struggled to execute. With a win against Boston Irish on November 12th, NYAC can lock up the ARP title and secure a spot in the DI National Playoffs.
“We deserved the win as we were the better team,” NYAC head coach Mike Quinn expressed to Rugby Today. “We came in with a lot of injuries and down our two best forwards, Nate Brakeley and Al McFarland, with the US Eagles. We were down to the bare bones and the lads pulled out a huge performance up front and we dominated their scrum and at the breakdown. Once we were getting ball, we had the better backline and were able to take them apart.”
NYAC jumped out to a 17-0 advantage after 22 minutes as Chris Mattina and Justin Hundley scored tries and Harry Bennett notched a penalty. The NYAC forwards kept Old Blue in check for most of the half as Old Blue’s only points came from a PK by Stephan Roussow in the 26th minute. At the half, NYAC held 17-3 lead.
“After halftime was when we started to impose ourselves,” Quinn stated. ‘We were very strong in the start of the game...We knew at halftime it was very important to score first to kill the game off and put Old Blue away. We did that and got a couple of penalties. We got an intercept try from Harry Bennett that put the game away.”
Old Blue cut the advantage to 17-11 with a Jamal Hadley try and Roussow’s second penalty. Although, NYAC didn’t score first, a heads-up intercept try and two penalties by Bennett increased the lead to 30-11 with less than ten minutes to play. NYAC emptied its bench and Old Blue struck twice in the final minutes to climb back into the match. Ultimately, it was too little, too late as NYAC held on for the 30-25 win.
Speaking with Old Blue captain Alex Schwarz after the match, he stated, “the deciding factor was probably that we couldn't execute. We set the platform well, but couldn't finish at certain moments. Now, we need to sharpen a few things before Mystic and make sure we are able to finish. Mainly, finishing plays with better fundamentals.”
On the win, Coach Quinn said, “It wasn’t easy, but we were very happy with our performance. Our pack gave us the ball we needed to do the damage with our backline.”
In the last match of Life’s Atlantic Cup series, the Running Eagles flew to Mystic River in Malden, Mass. on Saturday. With two matchups against the frontrunners of the ARP starting on November 12th, Mystic used this matchup to challenge itself against a high level opponent. Coming off its win last week against Old Blue at home, Life was shut down for the majority of the match and Mystic clobbered the former ARP champ, 43-17.
Mystic started the scoring ten minutes in with a try by hooker Kayne Bubb off a five-meter scrum. Life came right back with a Colton Cariaga try after Dave Gannon broke the defensive line. After Life’s try, the Mystic defense shut down its opponent and the offense stepped on the gas.
Following an Alatasi Tupou penalty, prop Chris O’Donnell crashed through the defense for a score and Vini Daley topped off a fine display a passing and offloading through hands for the try. At the half, Mystic was firmly in control up 24-5.
Mystic picked up where it left off scoring the next two tries. First, Dave McKenna powered through three Life defenders for the score and then John Sullivan took an eightman pick from the five-meter scrum into the endzone. Harley Wheeler scored a pair of tries for Life late, but Robbie Malneek responded by hitting the final nail in the coffin scoring in the corner.
Mystic ends its season with Old Blue in two weeks followed by NYAC on November 19th. Life plays the USA Rugby South All-Stars on November 6th and the collegiate side is at Arkansas State on November 12th.
In the second round of the battle of Boston, Boston Irish collected another win by an impressive margin. After a close 27-22 meeting in September, the Wolfhounds crushed Boston, 72-7. The Boston Irish scored the first 53 points of the contest for a total of 10 tries in the match.
Former Lindenwood fullback Tadhg Leader was a man possessed on the pitch with 33 total points after three tries, six conversions, and two penalties. Harry Kennedy, Thomas Elred, James Phillips, Conn Farrell (2), Gareth Austen, and Owen Collins each joined Leader on the score sheet for the Wolfhounds.
The Boston Irish finish their season on November 12th against NYAC, while Boston’s last game is at Old Blue on November 19th.