Rugby ATL Comeback Beats Rugby United New York in MLR Eastern Conference Final

Rugby ATL scored a try in the 75th minute to beat Rugby United New York 10-9 in the MLR Eastern Conference Final at Life University on July 24. The match was broadcast on CBS Sports Network and internationally on The Rugby Network.

Rugby ATL ended the regular season in first place with an 11-5 record and 57 points, while Rugby United New York’s record was 10-6 and 53 points. Their records were second and fourth in the league, respectively.

Match Recap

Rugby ATL had the first scoring opportunity in the third minute after a New York penalty, however, the penalty attempt by Bautista Ezcurra was wide.

Another penalty by New York resulted in an ATL lineout inside New York’s 22-meters. The ATL attack did not last long as a knock-on gave New York a scrum. A New York penalty had Ezcurra slotting an easy penalty goal to take a 3-0 lead after 9 minutes.

The ensuing restart was mishandled by ATL resulting in a New York scrum about 35 meters out in ATL territory. A penalty by ATL had Bennett kicking for territory and attacking from a lineout. New York mauled and then went through phases inside ATL’s 22-meters, but a loose ball on contact allowed Rugby ATL to clear.

A scrum to New York inside their 22-meters had Hanco Germishuys going blind. The team reached ATL’s 10-meter line before Ben Foden lost the ball forward on contract. An ATL penalty, however, allowed New York to clear to about the ATL 22-meters.

The teams traded kicks before a Gouws box kick went directly into touch. New York attacked from a lineout inside ATL territory with a breakdown penalty allowing ATL to clear.

The kick did not reach touch and the teams traded kicks several times with ATL winning the territory game. An attacking New York lineout was won and then turned over from a handling error, giving ATL a scrum inside the New York 22-meters. The humidity is making the ball slick.

Will Leonard handled an Ezcurra grub and New York cleared giving ATL an attacking lineout inside New York territory. Connor Cook gathered and ATL went through phases before a knock-on resulted in a New York scrum.

Andy Ellis sent the ball wide to Apensia Cakaubalavu, but ATL covered well and ATL was awarded a scrum. Johan Momsen lost the ball forward and New York kicked ahead. New York chased and ATL was pinged for not releasing, allowing Harry Bennett to knot the score at 3 all (34th minute).

Another ATL penalty on the restart had Bennett adding a 48-meter penalty goal to take a 6-3 lead.

An ATL lineout was kicked ahead by Fawsitt and the Referee Anselmi ruled that it went off Fawitt forward, resulting in an ATL scrum. New York was penalized and ATL attacked from a lineout and mauled. A penalty advantage had Ezcurra kicking for the corner for a 5-meter lineout in the 42nd minute. Momsen gathered and Samu Tawake through Marko Janse Van Rensburg into touch to repel ATL’s attack and to take a 6-3 New York lead into the break.

During the first half, Rugby ATL had 63% of the possession and 61 % of the territory. They also had 9 turnovers to RUNY’s 7.

Second Half

An early penalty advantage had Ezcurra kicking for territory and attacking from a lineout inside New York’s 22-meters. A driving maul resulted in a New York penalty for entering from the side. This gave ATL a lineout 5-meters out.

Rugby ATL was held up in goal, but a penalty advantage was being played, resulting in another lineout. ATL mauled. New York was offsides and James Rochford was sent to the bin (47th minute). A third lineout had ATL keeping the ball in the forwards and New York was penalized again.

New York has defended their goal for the last five minutes. This Final was the first time a TMO was used all season and Chance Wenglewski was sent to the bin after a stomp on Nick Civetta while he was on the ground (49th minute).

New York marched up the field with an ATL penalty for a tackle around the neck of Ben Bonasso. This resulted in a New York lineout outside ATL’s 22-meters. New York’s attack ended with a knock-on giving ATL a scrum.

Both teams used high balls, but a late hit by Mintern on Ezcurra gave ATL a chance to level the match. Ezcurra missed the kick and after 55 minutes the score was still 6-3 to New York.

An Andy Ellis box was muffed by Ezcurra, resulting in a New York scrum inside ATL territory. New York went through a few phases, but Matt Heaton was penalized and Bennett kicked to touch.

RUNY attacked from a lineout about 8-meters out and mauled, but Fawsitt was held up. This gave New York a 5-meter scrum (59th minute).

New York went through multiple phases, and a penalty advantage has Benett slotting a penalty goal to push the lead to 9-3 after 62 minutes.

After some kicks by both teams, RUNY used a quick lineout and an ATL obstruction penalty to kick for territory for an attacking lineout. ATL was penalized again with a late hit by Fedelinghuys on Ellis. Bennett kicked to touch for a lineout inside ATL’s 22-meters, but a penalty allowed ATL to clear.

ATL tried to maul without success from midfield and a Rees box kick was muffed by New York allowing ATL to attack. A late hit by Quinn Ngawati resulted in a yellow in the 67th minute. New York would play down a man for almost the remainder of the match.

ATL attacked from a lineout inside New York’s 22-meters and after several phases knocked-on on contact. A penalty advantage resulted in an ATL 5-meter lineout. Momsen gathered and the ball was lost forward and New York cleared.

ATL attacked again from a lineout and moved the ball wide right to Vili Helu with New York defending against a potential score in the right corner. Chris Mattina limped off before a penalty advantage resulted in an ATL 5-meter lineout. New York defended their red zone again and another penalty advantage kept the pressure on New York.

ATL attacked again from a 5-meter lineout, mauled and after eight forward drives, Alex Maughan scored the first try of the match in the 75th minute. Kurt Coleman slotted the kick to reclaim a 10-9 lead.

The ensuing restart went inside ATL’s 22-meters. Rugby ATL took their time before kicking near touch at midfield which went off Joel Miranda’s hands as he tried to keep the ball in play.

ATL went to the third jumper and Hanco Germishuys was injured after Redelinguys twisted him to the ground.

With a minute remaining, ATL attacked from a lineout at New York’s 22-meters. New York poached at the breakdown and need to move the ball almost 80 meters. That was not to be with Coleman kicking to touch for a 10-9 victory.

This was the first time Rugby ATL had beaten New York and moved ATL into the MLR Shield Final.

The Man of the Match went to Johan Momsen.


With the win,  Rugby ATL will face the winner of the July 25 Western Conference Final between LA Giltinis and the Utah Warriors on CBSSN at 6 pm ET. The MLR Shield Final will be on August 1 at 4 pm ET on CBS at the highest seed. This means in LA if the Giltinis win tomorrow or at Life University if Utah wins.

It is hoped that the injury to Hanco Germishuys is not severe and thoughts go out to him and his family.

Squads with Player Article Links & Match Preview

Rugby ATL: 1 Chance Wenglewski 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg 3 Wikus Groenewald 4 Marno Redelinghuys 5 Johan Momsen 6 Connor Cook 7 Matt Heaton (cc) 8 Ross Deacon 9 Rowan Gouws 10 Bautista Ezcurra 11 Te Rangatira Waitokia 12 Robbie Petzer 13 Ryan Nell (cc) 14 Jeremy Misailegalu15 Austin White 16 Neethling Gericke 17 Alex Maughan 18 Manasa Saulo 19 Conor Keys 20 Vili Helu  21 Daemon Torres  22 Ryan Rees  23 Kurt Coleman

Rugby United New York: 1 Sak Taulafo 2 Dylan Fawsitt (C)  3 Samu Tawake 4 Nate Brakeley 5 Nick CivettaEvan MinternBen Bonasso 8 Hanco Germishuys 9 Andy Ellis 10 Harry Bennett  11 Apenisa Cakaubalavu 12 Will Leonard 13 Fa’asiu Fuatai 14 Quinn Ngawati 15 Ben Foden 16 Rob Irimescu 17 James Rochford 18 Kirk Hamilton 19 Charlie Hewitt 20 Kyle Sumsion 21 Conor McManus 22 Chris Mattina 23 Joel Miranda

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