The Free Jacks Beat New York in Tough Weather Conditions

The New England Free Jacks bested Rugby United New York 22-6 in the rain, wind, and cold, at Union Point Stadium in Weymouth, MA on Saturday, July 3. The match was broadcast on NESN and MSG and streamed on The Rugby Network.

This kept New England mathematically in the MLR Eastern Conference playoff race, and placed more pressure on New York to win their remaining two matches, pending the outcome of the LA vs NOLA Gold match tomorrow.

The playoff race is still between four teams, Rugby ATL, Rugby United New York, NOLA Gold, and the New England Free Jacks with two spots available.

Rugby ATL, with a bye this week, has a match at Utah against the Warriors next week. The Warriors are trying to secure a Western Conference spot along with LA and face the tough task of finishing the regular season with a match against LA, while Austin Gilgronis travel to play LA and Old Glory. For Utah, it is a must-win at home against ATL, a win coupled with an Austin loss would guarantee the playoffs.

New York missed five players for internationals, and that combined with today’s weather was a factor in their loss. Credit the Free jacks for their win. New York will need a bonus-point win against Houston next Saturday at home, and then likely a win against NOLA Gold in two weeks to secure a playoff spot.

Meanwhile, all eyes will be watching to see if NOLA Gold can upset the favored LA Giltiinis tomorrow night at 10 pm ET.  NOLA Gold travels to Seattle next week and finishes the regular season away against New York on July 17.

Both New York and NOLA Gold will be rooting for the Utah Warriors to defeat Rugby ATL next week. An ATL loss could have the Eastern Conference Playoff race be determined the final week of the regular season. with Rugby United New York hosting NOLA Gold on July 17 and Rugby ATL traveling to New England for Major League Rugby’s concluding regular season match on July 18.

Match Recap

After an hour and 15 minute delay due to lightning, New York kicked off in the rain with the temperature 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Players have a certain prematch routine, so we’ll see how this impacts both teams.

Both teams began the match by kicking to attempt to gain a territorial edge. A RUNY lineout was stolen by the Free Jacks and after several phases a turnover allowed New York to clear.

New England attacked after a lineout and following a New York penalty, kicked to touch for a lineout 6-meters from in-goal. After a penalty advantage, Beaudein Waaka kicked into touch for a 5-meter lineout. New York repelled several forward picks and RUNY was penalized again for not releasing. Another lineout and phases from the forwards stopped the Free Jacks, but New York was penalized again. Another lineout ended with a Free Jacks knock on giving New York a 5-meter scrum.

New York survived the assault and cleared with the Free Jacks attacking again. A RUNY poach, at the breakdown and a box kick by McManus was gathered by Waaka. A breakdown penalty gave the Free Jacks a lineout, but pressure from New York had New England moving backward after an errant pass. The Free Jacks were penalized resulting in a New York lineout about 7 meters from in-goal.

A knock-on resulted in a New York 5-meter scrum. The team went to the blindside with Harry Bennett losing the ball forward on a strip by the Free Jacks. This gave New England a 5-meter-scrum, but a penalty by New York allowed New England to relieve the pressure through a clearance kick.

New England continued to attack within the RUNY 22-meters, but after multiple phases, a knock-on resulted in a New York scrum after the first hydration break. A penalty by the Free Jacks resulted in New York clearing and the free Jacks attacking after a lineout.

Handling is touch with the rain and a knock-on gave New York a scrum. The scrum collapsed and New York was penalized. Since the Free Jacks have not been able to penetrate the tough goal-line defense, they elected to kick for goal, but Beaudein Waaka’s kick was wide.

New York used an offensive scrum to clear and gained territory in a kicking exchange by both teams. A clearance kick was taken by Apenisa Cakaubalavu and after the break, the team cleared with Beaudein Waaka stepping defender before a knock-on by Joe Johnston.

A RUNY scrum and then a Free Jacks penalty resulted in a New York lineout at midfield. Another scrum to New York had the team advancing to New England 22- meters, before a not-release penalty at the breakdown had the Free Jacks kicking for territory and continuing their attack with a lineout inside New York’s 22-meters.

A New England grub kick had the ball exiting the dead ball line and New York cleared from a 22-meter drop.

In the 33rd minute, New York made had Tory Lockyear in for Ben Foden as a blood substitute, with Foden later returning.

A New York quick throw-in was intercepted by John Poland and after swinging the ball wide right, Mitch Wilson grounded the ball for a try near the right corner in the 35th minute to lead 5-0 after Waaka’s kick was wide right.

The ensuing restart was bubbled by Tera Mtembu.  A penalty had Harry Bennett kicking to touch resulting in a lineout with New England penalized after a maul. This gave RUNY a lineout 5-meters from in-goal. The Free Jacks were penalized again, resulting in another 5-meter lineout. After several forward picks, a New England penalty resulted in another 5-meter lineout. New York mauled and a RUNY player was held up, ending the first half with the Free jacks having a 5-0 lead.

During the first half, New England had 58% of the possession and 65% of the territory, but New York’s defense, handling errors and penalties resulted in missed opportunities.

Rugby United New York had fewer opportunities, but New England’s defense withstood those opportunities and took a narrow lead into the second half.

Second Half

The Free Jacks kicked to begin the second half and cleared with Harrow Barlow stepping on the touchline. New York attacked from a lineout and then counterattacked after a Free Jacks clearance kick.

RUNY has begun the half putting the Free Jacks under pressure, and used a scrum to move the ball deep inside New England territory. A knock-on at the breakdown gave New York another scrum, but a turnover on the tackle nullified the team’s effort.

New York countered with another attack and a knock-on by New England resulted in a New York scrum 7-meters out. Johnston poached at the breakdown and the Free Jacks cleared.

New York created a turnover after a Free Jacks’ maul and attacked from a scrum. Soon after, a Dan Hollinshead grub kick resulted in a New England scrum. Bonasso charged down a Poland box kick and New York gained a turnover scrum.

Kara Pryor utilized a No.8 pick and Kyle Sumsion followed. Several forward picks later and a penalty advantage for Wian Conradie for not rolling away at the breakdown, Dan Hollinshead slotted a penalty goal to cut the lead to 5-3.

A RUNY clearance kick went off New England’s hands, resulting in a lineout inside Free Jacks’ territory. The ball was lost with Waaka’s kick partially blocked, resulting in a Free Jacks lineout. An offsides maul penalty relieved the pressure for New England after a kick for territory and allowed them an attacking lineout platform with 21 minutes remaining in the match.

The stiff wind may be a factor in the match with New York having 88% of the possession during the first 20 minutes of the second half.

New England attacked from a lineout at the RUNY 22-meter line, mauling before going to the ground. The Free jacks continued their attack keeping the ball in the forwards. A Waaka grub appeared to be grounded by Conor McManus, but Harrison Boyle was awarded a try after JP Doyle consulted with an Assistant. Waaka then converted to push the lead to 12-3.

A Free Jacks penalty had New York attacking inside New England territory. A chip ahead was chased by Chris Mattina with Dougie Fife also in pursuit. The ball came back after a penalty advantage with Hollinshead slotting a penalty goal in the 68th minute to position themselves to potentially take the lead if they later score a converted try, 12-6.

The ensuing restart was lost forward and ended with a Waaka grub and Harry Barlow scoring a try in the left corner, 17-6.  This also may have sealed the match for the Free Jacks and taken away a potential losing bonus point for New York.

With time at a premium, New York cleared from a Free jacks penalty and then countered after a New England kick. New York quickly tapped after a penalty, but a knock-on resulted in a New England scrum with three minutes remaining in the match.

New York defended a Free Jacks grub and cleared to Dougie Fife, whose high ball was knocked on resulting in a New York scrum with a little over a minute remaining. Although New York can’t win, a try would give the team a losing bonus point.

A New England Free Jacks penalty had Hollinshed kicking for touch, but went directly out, instead, bringing the ball back for a Free Jacks scrum. New York counterattacked after a Free Jacks kick and an obstruction brought back an apparent scoring opportunity by Lockyear. Instead, a New York kick had Waaka on a counter-attack offloading to Samuamuvodre.

New York regained possession and Chris Mattina kept the play in the field of play. A turnover had the free jacks not kicking into touch to end the match, but instead, Tuidrake Samusamuvodre scored a try for a Free Jacks 22-6 win.

With the win, the Free Jacks’ record improves to 8-6 and keeps them in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 39 points. It also opens the door for NOLA Gold tomorrow should they beat the LA Giltinis, who only trail Rugby United New York (8-5, 46 points) by 4 points in the standings.

That will be a reach for NOLA Gold after losing players for international duty and could mean that the regular season final match between Rugby United New York and NOLA Gold could determine who makes the playoffs. This assumes that both teams win next week. Rugby ATL still needs to beat Utah next week, and the Free Jacks are mathematically in the playoff race.

Man of the Match honors went to New England’s Beaudein Waaka.

Rugby United New York’s Max Dacey made his MLR debut in the loss, and Diego Maquieira played in his first MLR regular-season match since 2018. Josateki Degei made his MLR debut for New England.

Squads with Player Article Links & Match Preview

New England Free Jacks:  1Sef Fa’agase 2 Pieter Jansen  3 Erich de Jager 4 Jackson Thiebes 5 Conor Kindregan 6 Tera Mtembu 7 Joe Johnston (C) 8 Wian Conradie 9 John Poland 10 Beaudein Waaka (VC) 11 Harry Barlow 12 Harrison Boyle 13 Poasa Waqanibau14 Mitch Wilson 15 Dougie Fife 16 Stephan Coetzee 17 Quentin Newcomer 18 Kyle Ciquera 19  Vili Toluta’u 20 Justin Johnson 21 Tom Brusati 22 Josateki Degei 23 Tuidraki Samusamuvodre

Rugby United New York: 1 Sak Taulafo 2 Dylan Fawsitt (C)  3 Samu TawakeEvan Mintern 5 Charlie Hewitt 6 Kyle SumsionBen Bonasso 8 Kara Pryor Conor McManus 10 Harry Bennett 11 Apenisa Cakaubalavu 12 Will Leonard 13 Fa’asiu Fuatai 14  Chris Mattina 15 Ben Foden 16 Diego Maquieira 17 Anthony Parry 18 Kirk Hamilton 19 Max Dacey 20 Rob Irimescu 21Connor Buckley  22 Dan Hollinshead 23 Troy Lockyear

International Tests & Major League Rugby

The next two weeks will see both the USA and Canada involved in international tests. The USA faces England on July 4 and Ireland on July 10, while Canada faces Wales on July 3 and England on July 10.

The Free Jacks have one player involved in the international tests. The team’s captain Josh Larson, left a week ago to join Canada.

Rugby United New York will have five players involved internationals with locks Nate Brakeley and Nick Civetta, as well as back-row Hanco Germishuys playing for the USA, Quinn Ngawati for Canada, and Wilton Rebolo for Brazil.

USA Men’s National Team Head Coach Gary Gold named Nick Civetta as a starter against England with Nate Brakeley and Hanco Germishuys as reserves.

Rugby Canada Head Coach Kinsley Jones has named Quinn Ngawati to make his debut for Canada as inside center against Wales on July 3.

Following the match last week, Wilton left to return to Brazil for the team’s remaining internationals. Brazil beat Paraguay 29-0 last Saturday and will play in a triangular SAR 2023 RWC final with Chile, and Uruguay as Chile vs Colombia’s  July 11 was suspended with Chile advancing based on COVID-19 detection. Click on Chile vs Colombia link for more on the South and North American qualifier process.

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant