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NYAC's Justin Hundley with ball in semifinal. Evan Lappen photo

The 2016 American Rugby Premiership began with two of the top teams asserting their dominance. Old Blue and New York Athletic Club (NYAC) opened their seasons traveling to Massachusetts to take on the Boston area clubs. Both squads left with resounding wins as Old Blue shutout the Boston Irish, 56-0, and NYAC stomped Boston, 48-10.

After reaching the DI semifinals earlier this year, Old Blue started this season’s campaign beating up on the Boston Irish. Old Blue scored early and often amounting a 27-0 lead at halftime. Robert Kirkland, Trevor Cassidy, and Jamal Hadley scored tries in the opening frame with James Bird converting all three kicks and a penalty. Additionally, fullback Connor Wallace-Sims slotted a drop goal after Harry Higgins stole a lineout.

Old Blue didn’t let up in the second as it emptied its bench early in the half. Sean McGarrity, Dean Muir, Ryan Blythe, Franklin Vincentio, and Wallace-Sims found the try zone to extend the lead. Bird and Wallace-Sims combined for three more conversions to finish the game.

“Overall, we were highly satisfied with the win and, given the goose egg, keeping them off the board was a big victory for us,” Calder Orr, Old Blue Vice President said. “We were working out some new offensive systems, so we were very happy with the result. We wanted to win the game, but we still have areas to improve and make ourselves better.”

Orr attributed the match’s success to the system and strategic kicking. “The guys stuck to the system and played in their roles. No one tried to be a superstar. The kicking game was very effective early on and the kickers put the ball where it needed to go. Connor Wallace-Sims, James Bird, and Nate Oxford were solid with the boot.”

Old Blue gets a rematch against defending DI Champion, Mystic River, next weekend in New York. The Boston Irish will stay in town to meet rival Boston on Saturday.

After missing the DI National Playoffs in the spring, NYAC diced up Boston, 48-10 in its fall debut. NYAC’s forward pack dominated to set up success for the dynamic backline.

After Boston’s Richard Lobb began the match with a penalty, NYAC busted out with 31 unanswered points in the half. Seamus Kelly, Justin Hundley (2), Jack Turnball, and Harry Bennett each scored tries for the New Yorkers. 

“It was a game of two halves,” NYAC head coach Mike Quinn said. “It started extremely well and we came out really focused. We put some early scores up and Boston was kind of shell-shocked. We were up three or four scores in the first 15-20 minutes and we were happy with that. In the second half, we lost our focus a bit and Boston came back into the game with their defense. We weren’t as tuned in as we were in the first half.”

NYAC scored twice before a yellow card allowed Boston’s Ceri Llewelyn to score immediately after. Boston stepped up their defense, but a late try by NYAC slammed the door to win 48-10. Kelly, Chris Mattina, and Quentin Pradere scored for NYAC in the half.

Quinn remarked, “the key to victory was the platform laid by our forward pack. We scrummaged very well, which led to those early scores. The first half in general and, particularly, our forward pack [were stellar].” In the forwards, Nate Brakeley and James Denise had standout performances and Jack Fitzpatrick excelled in the backs.

Going forward, Quinn saw many positives, but plenty of room for improvement. “In order to do well this season, we need to make an 80 minute effort. Not withstanding that Boston came back in the second half and played a lot better, we were disappointed that we didn’t impose ourselves in the second half. We know can do well this season, but we need to maintain that effort for 80 minutes.”

NYAC has a bye next week before travelling again to meet the Boston Irish on September 24th.