Rugby ATL hosts Rugby New York at Silverbacks Park, Atlanta, Georgia at 3 pm ET on Saturday, February 19. The match is a rematch of the teams that met in the 2021 Eastern Conference Final. The match will be streamed on The Rugby Network.
Rugby ATL enters the match with a 2-0 record and tops the Eastern Conference with 9 points in the standings. They began the season with a 55-22 win over Old Glory DC and followed with a 14-9 win over NOLA Gold last Saturday.
Rugby New York has a 1-0 record after a 10-7 win last Saturday against Houston SaberCats. They are in third place behind New England, which is also 1-0, with both teams having a game in hand due to byes.
Rugby New York has a 3-1 record against Rugby ATL, with their only loss 10-9 in last year’s Eastern Conference Final.
Rugby ATL has made extensive changes from last week’s win over NOLA Gold. There are 8changes in the starters and another in the reserves.
In the forwards, Alex Maughan, Evan Minterrn, and Connor Cook shift Marko Janse Van Rensburg, Justin Basson, and Vili Helu to the reserves. Ross Deacon is at No.8 with Daemon Torres rested.
In the backs, both Harley Davidson and Te Rangatira Waitokia had dings last Saturday and are rested. Austin White shifts to right-wing and Ryan Nell to the outside center, with both Nolan Tuamoheloa and Will Leonard starting at left-wing and at inside-center, respectively. The halfbacks have also revered roles with Rowan Gouws and Duncan Van Schalkwyk at scrumhalf and flyhalf, with Ryan Rees and Kurt Coleman the lone back reserves with Martini Talapusi out of the matchday squad.
Rugby ATL utilizes quick defensive line speed to pressure teams into making handling errors and to attempt to control the breakdown. They expect a physical battle and have 6 forward and 2 back reserves.
Rugby New York
Rugby New York was pleased with their win over the Houston SaberCats last Saturday and has made minimal changes in their squad. Kara Pryor is the sile change at No.8, with Pago Haini rested. Joe Basser could make his MLR debut at flanker as a reserve.
Look for Rugby New York to counter ATL’s defensive pressure with some tactical kicking behind the defense to relieve some of the pressure. New York plays at a fast pace and hopes to find gaps in the Ratler’s defense. Last week they controlled the breakdown and that is where ATL also excels. New York also scores many points from close range off mauls created following lineouts within the opposition’s 22-meters.
Last week Rugby New York countered well with their substitutions, and this week they will need to be at their best again with Rugby ATL saving many of last week’s starters to close out the match.
For Chance Wenglewski, it will be a reunion of sorts, as he previously played for Rugby ATL. That will take place, however, after the match.
Squads with Player Article Links
Rugby ATL: 1 Will Burke 2 Alex Maughan3 John Sullivan 4 Evan Mintern 5 Johan Momsen 6 Connor Cook 7 Matt Heaton (co-capt.) 8 Ross Deacon 9 Rowan Gouws 10 Duncan van Schalkwyk 11 Nolan Tuamoheloa 12 Will Leonard 13 Ryan Nell (co-capt.) 14 Austin White 15 Joaquín de la Vega Mendía 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg 17 Jonas Petrakopoulos 18 Wikus Groenewald 19 Justin Basson 20 Conor Keys 21 Vili Helu 22 Ryan Rees 23, Kurt Coleman
Rugby New York: 1 Chance Wenglewski 2 Dylan Fawsitt 3 Nick Mayhew 4 Nate Brakeley (capt) 5 Charlie Hewitt 6 Ben Bonasso 7 Brendon O’Conner 8 Kara Pryor 9 Connor Buckley 10 Sam Windsor 11Ed Fidow 12 Jason Emery 13 Faasiu Fuatai 14 Andrew Coe 15 Troy Lockyear 16 Kaleb Geiger 17 Sak Taulafo 18 Wilton Rebolo 19 Will Tucker 20 Joe Basser 21 Andy Ellis 22 Jack Heighton 23 John Powers
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