Rugby United New York lost their lead in the closing minutes against the Utah Warriors, and the match, 29-28, on June 19 at Cochrane Stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey. The match was broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network and may be viewed 24 hours later on-demand on The Rugby Network.
Rugby United New York struck quickly after a lineout with Apenisa Cakaubalavu shooting a gap in the defense for a try under the posts to lead 7-0.
Utah attacked back from a lineout deep inside New York territory and with its collapse, Dylan Fawsitt was deemed by the medical staff unable to continue and was removed from the match with Wilton Rebolo entering in the 12th minute.
Utah gathered a lineout throw and mauled with Sama Malolo dotting down and Cliven Loubser adding the extras to knot the match at 7 all.
A Utah turnover resulted in a New York attack and a slip by Paul Mullen had Charlie Hewitt receiving a forearm into the head. Mullen was sent to the bin in the 22nd minute. New York attacked from a lineout with Chris Mattina finding a gap, offloading to Ben Foden, and finished by Harry Bennett with a try to the right of the posts. Bennett then converted for a 14-7 lead.
A Warriors steal had Utah pinning Harry Bennett deep inside New York territory and resulted in a Warriors scrum. Angus MacLellan entered the match with the Mullen yellow card in effect, with Utah wing James Vaifale exiting. The dark arts were employed in the scrum, and New York was penalized and shortly later Olive Kilifi had a try from close range. Loubser added the extras to level the match at 14 all.
The match was a physical one in high temperatures and James Rochford kept getting banged up. This time he exited early with Sak Taulafo entering. New York used a penalty to kick for territory and following the lineout, Sak Taulafo made his presence felt with a try under the posts, 21-14.
The ensuing restart did not travel 10 meters and resulted in a RUNY scrum at midfield. The attack was stalled and the match temporarily halted as Samu Tawake and Oli Kilifi butted heads and needed head wraps from the collision. New York was penalized and resulted in a lineout 5 meters from in-goal. A second penalty had the Warriors attacking again from a lineout with Thomas Tu’avao scoring from short range to cut the lead to 21-19, as the Loubser conversion attempt was missed.
New York entered the match with several players unavailable due to injuries and the early loss of key from row players in Fawsitt and Rochford, only placed more pressure on New York. There would be no let-up from the team during the match with the team’s strong defense, but the penalties were mounting and ultimately led to scores by Utah.
Just like in the first half, New York scored first in the second half. Evan Mintern gathered a lineout throw, resulting in a maul and a try by Wilton Rebolo for a bonus point try, with Bennett converting to push the lead to 28-19.
New York changed tactics in the second half with the wind at their back with some high balls to pressure the defense. Ben Foden executed several and challenged Mike Te’o and later Jurie Van Vuuren in following up his kicks.
The game is managed by referees and New York penalties mounted after a steal by Utah. A no-wrap tackle and then a penalty at the breakdown by Nate Blakeley, for using his elbows to support a poaching attempt, led to Brakeley being sent to the bin in the 60th minute. The Warriors capitalized right away moving the ball wide right with Cliven Loubser scoring in the right corner, 28-24, and missing the conversion.
With a penalty advance to New York for a high tackle by Lance Williams, RUNY elected to kick at goal, however, Bennett’s attempt was wide.
This resulted in a 22-meter drop by Utah by Te’o, which was taken by Foden, and a high ball back to Te’o with Foden on the tackle. Fasi Fuatai was pinged for an infraction and had the Warriors attacking. A Utah scrum resulted in a New York penalty, and an offsides call gave Utah another 5-meter scrum. A Warrior’s player was held up by New York’s red zone defense and after a few more attempts, the ball was knocked on, giving New York a 5-meter scrum.
Kyle Sumsion picked up the ball and drove forward providing some room for a Foden clearance kick. This resulted in a Utah lineout with Matt Jensen gathering, Lance Williams powering forward and Danny Christensen quickly moving the ball blind to Mika Kruse for a try in the right corner to take the team’s first lead in the match, 28-29 in the 77th minute.
That lead would hold up as the Warriors get their fifth comeback win of the season, including three in a row.
Utah improved its record to 8-5 and remains in second place in the Western Conference with 46 points. They travel to Houston on June 26th to play the SaberCats.
Rugby United New York also remains in second place picking up two bonus points (41 total) with an 8-4 record. Their match next week against the Toronto Arrows in Georgia was moved to Saturday, June 26 to allow internationals from both teams to compete before leaving for international tests. This does not apply to the Arrows’ three Uruguay players, who will have left.
In other matches yesterday, NOLA Gold edged Toronto after two late penalty goals, 12-18, and Rugby ATL won 33-15 against the Houston SaberCats in the rain.
NOLA Gold moved to third place in the Eastern Conference with 38 points with idle New England in fourth with 34 points. NOLA travels to meet the Free jacks next week.
Utah will pay close attention to today’s matches with San Diego hosting LA, and Seattle hosting Austin. San Diego needs a win or their playoff aspirations will likely need to wait until next season. Austin with 36 points, needs a bonus-point win to stay close to Utah who has 46.
While the intent of the next comment is not to criticize referees, for spectators it may be important to view the match replay.
New York fans were boisterous in their displeasure with certain calls in the match, and ultimately there is one referee who makes split-time decisions and relies at times on the assistant referees when they have questions. Referees play a key role, make some mistakes, and are more often correct, despite the rumblings of involved spectators. They are an integral part of the game.
Viewing a match live gives one perspective, but sometimes it necessary to view the match again to understand referee calls. I will be watching the match again, as broadcast viewers can hear referees identify calls, as they wear microphones, which can’t be heard by the spectators during the match. This provides additional insight and adds to the match perspective.
Credit Utah for its win and for New York for leaving it all out on the pitch and for making the match compelling for the viewers.
Let’s hope that both Dylan Fawsitt and James Rochford are fine. New York will see some key players likely returning next week and the team will regroup for the away trip to face Toronto.
The remaining home games for New York against Houston (July 10) and NOLA Gold (July 17) will be played at Belson Stadium on St. John’s University campus. Thanks, Jersey City and Cochrane Stadium for your support this season.
Rugby United New York matches should not be missed. The team is an outstanding one and competes for the entire 80 minutes, with exciting fast-paced action. I have thoroughly enjoyed covering the team this season, as I have in the past.
Squads with Player Article Links & Match Preview
Rugby United New York: 1 James Rochford 2 Dylan Fawsitt (c)3 Samu Tawake 4 Nate Brakeley 5 Charlie Hewitt 6 Kyle Sumsion 7 Ben Bonasso 8 Evan Mintern 9 Conor McManus 10 Harry Bennett 11 Apenisa Cakaubalavu 12 Quinn Ngawati 13 Will Leonard 14 Chris Mattina 15 Ben Foden 16 Rob Irimescu 17 Sak Taulafo 18 Wilton Rebolo 19 Hanco Germishuys 20 Connor Buckley 21 Fa’asiu Fuatai 22 Luke Hume 23 Joel Miranda
Utah Warriors: 1Olive Kilifi 2 Sama Malolo 3 Paul Mullen 4 Saia Uhila 5 Matt Jensen 6 Thomas Tu’avao 7 Mike Gieselman 8 Lance Williams 9 Fraser Hurst 10 Cliven Loubser 11 James Vaifale12 Derek Ellingson 13 Tyler Fisher14 Josh Whippy 15 Hagen Schulte 16 Veremalua Vugakoto 17 Franco van den Berg 18 Angus Maclellan 19 Aston Fortuin 20 Jurie Van Vuuren 21 Danny Christensen 22 Mika Kruse 23 Mike Te’o
Remaining MLR Eastern Conference Schedule
The Eastern Conference will likely come down to the final weeks before it is known which two teams will be playoff-bound. Rugby ATL and Rugby New York are currently in a position to make the playoffs, but the New England Free Jacks and NOLA Gold are threats. Old Glory DC and Toronto have not been eliminated, but are likely in the spoiler role at this point.
Rugby United New York’s remaining schedule includes Toronto Arrows (A-June 26), New England (A-July3), Houston (H-July10), and NOLA Gold (H-July17).
Rugby ATL’s remaining matches include Old Glory (H-June26), Bye (July 3/4), Utah Warriors (A-July 10), and New England (A-July 18).
New England faces NOLA Gold (H-June 26), RUNY (H-July 3), Toronto (A-July 11), and Rugby ATL (H-July 18).
NOLA Gold has road matches that follow against New England (June 26), LA (July 4), Seattle (July 11), and RUNY (July 17).
Old Glory DC schedule includes Rugby ATL (A-June 26) after a bye week (June 19/20), Toronto (A-July 4), San Diego (H-July 10), and Austin (H-July 17).
Toronto finishes their season with matches against RUNY (H-June 26), Old Glory (H-July 4), and concludes their season with New England (H-July 11).
After this week’s match against RUNY, Utah travels to Houston (June 26), has a bye for the USA/Canadian internationals (Jule3/4), hosts Rugby ATL (July 10), and finishes the regular season against the LA Giltinis at home on July 17. Three of those matches are against playoff contenders.
Rugby United New York’s remaining schedule includes Utah Warriors (H-June 19), Toronto Arrows (A-June 27), New England (A-July3), Houston (H-July10), and NOLA Gold (H-July17).
Rugby United New York has Nate Brakeley, Nick Civetta, and Hanco Germishuys on the USA Team, Quinn Ngawati playing for Canada, and Wilton Rebolo for Brazil.
The Utah Warriors have Paul Mullen (tighthead prop), Michael Baska (scrumhalf), Mika Kruse (center/wing), and Mike Te’o (wing) on the USA team, and Fraser Hurst on Rugby Canada.
Other Eastern Conference Teams & Internationals.
The Toronto Arrows are the hardest hit with nine players playing for Canada and three for Uruguay. NOLA Gold has eight players involved, Rugby ATL four, Old Glory four, and New England one for Canada.
With the pandemic pushing the start of the season until late March, the Summer internationals have MLR players who will represent their country, and teams will look at the bigger picture and make their adjustments accordingly.
There has been a flurry of player announcements and a few trades, as teams wind down the season and others push for the playoffs.