Rugby United New York jumped out to a 26-0 lead and beat the Utah Warriors 47-21 on March 8 at Zions Bank Stadium. For the second consecutive week, the match was played in the snow.
With the loss, the Utah Warriors record is 1-3-1 and are in seventh place. The team has a bye before traveling to face the Houston SaberCats on Thursday, March 21.
The win gives Rugby United New York a 4-1 record on the road to move temporarily into second place, pending the outcome of the remaining MLR matches this weekend. The team will have their home opener on March 15th against the Toronto Arrows.
Prior to the match, Ian Luciano replaced Johnny Ika on the match-day 23 for the Utah Warriors due to illness.
The Utah Warriors controlled the possession during the first eight minutes of the match, but a Mark O’Keeffe break and quick hands led to a Connor Wallace-Sims try in the left corner. Chris Mattina then slotted the conversion for a 7-0 lead. That lead was extended to 14-0 after a Mark O’Keefe intercept of an Ian Luciano pass, for a long try with Mattina then converting.
Cathal Marsh then left the game with Mike St. Claire coming in at wing and Chris Mattina shifting to flyhalf.
RUNU added its third try after over twenty phases with James Denise diving over the line. Mattina converted again for a 21-0 lead. Connor Wallace-Sims pushed the lead to 26-0 with a try in the left corner.
Utah finally answered back after a Misailegalu break that was finished after multiple picks by John Cullen. Tim O’Malley then converted to cut the lead to 26-7 at the break.
Rugby United New York controlled possession and the Utah Warriors committed many handling errors to stop their attacks. This continued in the second half.
Rugby United New York opted early to attack from a lineout after a penalty instead of going for points. The team advanced in-goal but were held up. The team had multiple 5-meter scrums after Utah penalties before a penalty try was awarded to push the lead to 33-7.
A yellow card was given to Franco Van den Berg for the team’s multiple infringements. This allowed RUNY to attack from a lineout 5-meters from in-goal. Trevor Cassidy added a try after a maul and Mattina slotted the kick for a 40-7 lead.
The Utah Warriors then thrilled their crowd after a James Semple cross kick to Josh Anderson resulted in an 80-meter try and an O’Malley conversion to cut the lead to 40-14.
In the closing minutes, a Chris Mattina offload to Mark O’Keeffe pushed the lead to 47-14 after Mattina’s conversion. The Warriors closed out the match with a second try by John Cullen with O’Malley slotting the kick for a final score of 47-21.
Veteran leadership was evident in the match with RUNY’s Ben Foden named as the Rockwell Watches Man of the Match.
A telling match statistic was that RUNY had 64% of the possession and 68% of the territory. Utah had 8 knock ons, while RUNY had 2. The handling errors helped RUNY charge to a 26-0 lead, a lead that had the Warriors pressing the rest of the match.
“New York is a physical, disciplined team and had our number today. It was one of those matches where everything we planned did not go as planned” said Warriors Head Coach Alf Daniels.
“We can see glimpses of where we need to be and where we should be, we committed too many errors and did not play our game. We were also in this situation at this time last year and turned it all around, and I feel confident we will again” said Team Captain John Cullen.
Squads with Player Article Links & Match Preview
Utah Warriors: 1 Franco Van den Berg 2 Logan Daniels 3 Angus Maclellan 4 Matt Jensen 5 Saia Uhila 6 Lance Williams 7 Ara Elkington 8 John Cullen (VC) 9 Ian Luciano 10 James Semple 11Fetu’u Vanikolo 12 Tim O’Malley (C) 13 Jeremy Misailegalu 14 Tonata Lauti 15 Josh Whippy 16 Jeremy Leber 17 Huluhola Moungaloa 18 Jackson Kaka19 Kenny Scott 20 Alex Tucci 21 Nolan Tuamoheloa 22 Josh Anderson 23 Joseph Nicholls + Head Coach Alf Daniels
Rugby United New York: 1 James Rochford 2 Dylan Fawsitt 3 Chris Sullivan 4 Nate Brakeley 5 Trevor Cassidy 6 Matt Hughston 7 James Denise 8 Ross Deacon 9 Mike Petri (C) 10 Cathal Marsh 11 Connor Wallace-Sims 12 Mark O’Keeffe 13 Chris Mattina 14 Derek Lipscomb 15 Ben Foden16 Mike Brown17 Anthony Parry 18 Paddy Ryan19 Matt Wirken 20 Alex MacDonald 21 Marcus Walsh 22 Mike St. Claire 23 Gavan D’Amore-Morrison + Head Coach Mike Tolkin