You are here
The last time this happened was in 2007, when OMBAC beat Cal in Berkeley 36-30. The year before the AC had visited Cal, losing 33-27.
Given those results, this weekend’s game promises to be very close, and promises to be relatively-high-scoring. There is nothing in the team lineups to disabuse anyone of that notion.
Sure BYU is without several seniors from last year’s championship team, but
they will be able to field BYU football and rugby star Paul Lasike for the
first time this season and they still have Ryan Roundy busting through
defenses. And sure NYAC has several national team players on their squad,
but they lost Lou Stanfill from last year’s squad, and haven’t played a
whole lot leading into this game.
The NYAC team is stacked, and following their 12-5 win over Life, you have to think their defense is working well.
Three starters for the AC are current national team players: lock Brian Doyle, and halfback combo Mike Petri and Toby L’Estrange. One other, fullback Justin Hundley, has played for the USA in 7s, and four others have been in USA camps or played for the USA in age-grades.
Of the others, six are former overseas pros or played for an age-grade national team. That’s an imposing group.
Their back row of James Denis (2012 club MVP and possibly the most uncompromising player on the team), Ireland A player Neil McMillan, and former Australian Schools forward Al McFarland is as tough a back row as BYU will face.
For the Cougars, Roundy is their best player. He is superbly fast, but has excellent acceleration. In the centers, the NYAC pairing of Phil Bailey (former Australia rugby league player) and Chris Chapman (USA Selects) will have their hands full with the powerful running of Lasike and the silkier but no less problematic running of Hoseki Kofe.
Their second row, powered by TJ Allred and Kyle Sumsion is smart and effective, but will have to really man up against the AC’s massive engine room of Doyle and Seth Cohen.
So how will each team win? If it’s a sloppy game that results in a lot of scrums, the AC will win. BYU scrums well, and they are powerful, but the NYAC is ready to pack down all day (their front eight averages 230 lbs) and will wear the Cougars down.
Set piece in the lineout appears to favor the AC also, as they have height and an effective thrower (Conor Coyne) to jumper link.
Where BYU excels is in working forwards all over the pitch, and in punishing turnovers. The now-graduated halfback combo of Shaun Davies and Dylan Lubbe used to be masters at poaching offloads in cover defense – they probably called for the pass from the opposing player! Will Jonathan Linehan and Luke Mocke do the same? We’ll see, but if the AC drops the ball and it rolls away, then the speedy BYU team will punish them.
So little wonder that in training NYAC works on killing turnover possibilities. They are pretty good at playing quick ball, and a very, very good at stopping other teams from doing the same.
So it comes down to this: both teams will run their pattern well enough,
and if someone misses a tackle, that will likely be enough for a try.
If it becomes a fumble-fest and NYAC can make that be scrums, then that plays in the NYAC’s hands. If it becomes a fumble-fest and the ball rolls around loose, then BYU might like that. The Cougars should watch out for Mike Petri, who is as good as anyone in taking a quick tap and making it work.