Let the celebration begin! For the first time in MLR history, the champions live in the Big Apple. Rugby New York capped off a historic season by lifting the MLR Shield after defeating the Seattle Seawolves at Red Bull Arena.
New York’s first points of the game came at the 8-minute mark after trailing 5-0. Crisp passing led to a New York scrum five meters away from the try zone. Will Tucker was found after a few more passes, and he was able to force his way over the line for the try. Jason Emery’s conversion gave New York a 7-5 lead.
After conceding a penalty kick to trail 8-7, New York would retake the lead at the 24-minute mark. It was a powerful scrum by New York that was slowly penetrating through Seattle’s defense. Andy Ellis manned the scrum and called for the backs behind him to help push the scrum. As the backs followed Ellis’s signal, the more ground New York covered, and they eventually piled over the line for a penalty try.
New York would score again before the end of the half. Ellis took the ball and faked out Seattle’s defense with a dummy pass to his right before offloading it to his left. A couple of passes later, Jack Heighton found Ellis up the field past the defense. Ellis won the foot race and touched the ball down for the try. New York went into the half up 19-8.
New York extended their lead at the 50-minute mark on a Jason Emery penalty kick to make it 22-8.
The points would continue to add up for New York as they scored another try six minutes later. Freshly subbed in Nic Mayhew dove on top of a pass from Tucker. Mayhew passed it from his backside to Brendon O’Connor, who flipped it to Fawsitt behind his back. The ball would end up back in Mayhew’s hands, and he took it over the line for the try.
Leading 27-15, the dagger came at the 74-minute mark. Any extra points would ice the game, and New York knew that. Attacking in Seattle’s zone, Sam Windsor converted on a drop kick to make it 30-15, which would end up being the final score.
CONCRETE JUNGLE WHERE DREAMS ARE MADE OF
The crowd was electric all game long. Every big play had loud, roaring cheers as background noise that filled up Red Bull Arena. Rugby New York faithful watched as the confetti poured onto the field and saw their players lift the MLR Shield into the sky.
THE CHERRY ON TOP OF A HISTORIC SEASON
In a season that created franchise records, league leaders and new milestones, Rugby New York now gets to add the MLR Shield as the finishing touch. Capturing the shield is the main goal for all 13 teams around the league, and New York has come close many times. They have successfully run the gauntlet and become the lowest seed ever to be crowned MLR Champions.
By Jason Piccolomini
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