In a pulsating Friday night clash in Quincy, Rugby New York (11-5) concluded their regular season by defeating the top seeded New England Free Jacks (13-3) in their first home loss with a 21-14 win.
Coming off the heels of setting a franchise record for most points in a match and making MLR history for most combined points in a game, New York carried their offensive momentum into the first half. Inches away from the try zone off the back of a penalty advantage, Kalolo Tuiloma plunged over the line after a powerful rolling maul to give New York the game's first points. Sam Windsor’s conversion made it 7-0 after 4 minutes of play.
New York would continue to make the most of penalty advantages. Off the back of a driving maul, Kalolo Tuiloma was tackled at the one-meter line. Andy Ellis scooped the ball up and dove into the try zone to extend New York’s lead 14-0.
New England scored their first points of the game at the 19-minute mark, but New York responded immediately with a try of their own. Off the back of another pounding rolling maul, Kaleb Geiger finished off New York's third try of the night. Windsor was successful on his third conversion of the game to put New York up 21-7. A Free Jacks try at the end of the half cut the deficit to seven.
New England came out soaring in the second half with a number of attacking raids on the New York line. The 21-14 lead eventually became the final score due to New York’s rock-solid defense. New York’s ability to regain possession and force turnovers was the difference-maker in a physical last 40 minutes of play.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
At the 77-minute mark, Waisake Naholo made a try-saving tackle ten meters away from the line, stopping a rampaging Paula Balekana in the process.
It what was a gutsy win, both teams came to play, with New York’s defence coming through to answer the call. Joe Basser, making his second start of the season with his last being in Round 5, led all players in tackles with 27. As a team, New York’s work in the trenches put up a season-high 249 tackles
ONTO THE NEXT
New York’s 11-5 record ties their 2019 mark and is an improvement of last season’s 10-6 record. As the third seed in the East, they will face Rugby ATL at on June 11th at 8:30PM ET for the first round of the playoffs. The game will be a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals. New England faces the winner of that match. Playoff rugby, we can't wait!
By Jason Piccolomini.
Be a part of the journey of Rugby New York. Sign up below for your exclusive team insights, updates, and more!