Rugby New York Hands Free Jacks Its First Loss at Home

The New England Free Jacks lost 21-14 to Rugby New York on Friday, June 3 at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy, Massachusetts. It was the first time that New England had lost at home in nine matches, while New York proved that they are the best road winning team in MLR.

The match was the final regular-season match for both teams with New England finishing in first place with a league-leading 13-3 record (62 points) and getting a bye into the Eastern Conference Finals on June 19. Rugby New York finished in third place with an 11-5 record  (56 points) the same record as Rugby ATL, which had 57 points. New York will travel to Silverbacks Stadium in Atlanta for the Eastern Conference Semifinal against Rugby ATL. The match will be broadcast nationally on Fox Sports 2 at 6 pm ET and streamed internationally on The Rugby Network.

Match Recap

The teams took a different approach to the third meeting between the Eastern Conference powerhouses. The Free Jacks made a few changes in the starters and provided some rest for several of their regulars shifting them to the reserves.

Rugby New York elected to rest a significant number of their starters in anticipation of the playoffs beginning on June 12. That proved to be a winning strategy as Rugby New York took a 21-12 lead into the break and a strong defensive effort lead to no additional scoring by either team in the second half.

Rugby New York scored first after only four minutes from a lineout about 8 meters from in-goal. Ben Bonasso claimed the throw with Kaleb Geiger attacking the blind side and offloading to Kalolo Tuiloma, who was stopped and then picked up and barrelled over for a try, with Sam Windsor slotting the extras, 0-7.

Five minutes later, New York fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder, a former All Black, left temporarily for ten minutes for an HIA with John Powers substituting in his absence.

An Andy Ellis clearance kick was contested by New York wing Andrew Coe and Free Jacks fullback Dougie Fife, with the latter saving a sure try by Coe if he gathered, and clearing. New York attacked from a lineout at New England’s 22-meters and after 8 phases, a penalty advantage for the Free jacks being offsides resulted in a lineout 5-meters from in-goal. Antonio Kiri Kiri went into contact and Tuiloma was stopped short before Andy Ellis went to the left of the breakdown for a try and a 014 lead after Windsor’s conversion.

New England answered back with inside center Wayne Van Der Bank angling inside before the ball was sent left to outside center Jack Reeves, whose grub ahead was gathered by Paula Balakana for a try, with Beaudein Waaka adding the extras, 7-14.

This match between rivals was getting chippy, especially after Wayne Van Der Bank drove a horizontal Nehe Milner-Skudder into the ground. Referee Federico Anselmi did not allow this to escalate and the Free Jacks penalty resulted in a New York attacking lineout 5-meters from in-goal. Bonasso gathered and the team mauled with Buckley, Ellis, and Windsor joining the forwards and Kaleb Geiger finished with his fifth try of the season in the left corner. Windsor was perfect on the day and pushed the lead to 7-21.

The Free Jacks answered back with a try on the final play of the half after Van Der Bank found a gap and flicked a pass to Terrell Peita for a try in the left corner with Waaka slotting, 14-21.

Second Half

Early in the half, the Free Jacks used an attacking lineout to maul toward in-goal, but it collapsed and with the ball unplayable, New York earned a turnover.

A Beaudein Waaka chip ahead was taken by Waisake Naholo and passed to Andy Ellis, who was tackled after he was offloaded by Waaka. Tempers flared and both players were sent to the bin in the 50th minute to cool off for 10 minutes.

A New England grub ahead by Dougie Fife was gathered by an isolated Milner-Skudder and driven into touch. This resulted in a lineout about 8 meters from in-goal and was stolen by New York and cleared.

New York had a scoring opportunity soon after from a lineout 5-meters out. A maul ensued, however, the Free jacks Van Der Bank emerged with the ball, and the team cleared.

In the final two minutes of the match, the Free jacks had New York under pressure again, with Andy Ellis appearing to win a turnover at the breakdown. Instead, he was penalized for a shoulder charge. Soon after, following a Free jacks scrum, New England went through phases, before a John Poland cross-kick was gathered by Andrew Coe, thwarting the chance to tie the match and sealing the win for Rugby New York.

Rugby New York can take pride in derailing the Free Jacks’ undefeated home record at Veterans Memorial Stadium and claiming an important road win as they enter the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Free Jacks will lament briefly about the loss and then prepare for meeting either Rugby New York or Rugby ATL on June 19.

In the other game impacting the playoffs, Rugby ATL came back from a 14-19 NOLA Gold advantage at halftime to score 31 unanswered points in the second half for a bonus-point win to earn second place in the Conference.

Rugby ATL will host Rugby New York on Sunday, June 12 at Silverbacks Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, in a match scheduled for a 6 pm kickoff and which will be broadcast on Fox Sports 2 or streamed internationally on The Rugby Network.

At the conclusion of the match, Andy Ellis was named Man of the Match. Although a player was not mentioned for the Free jacks, Wayne Van Der Bank would be my choice for New England.

Squads with Player Article Links

New England Free Jacks: 1 Quentin Newcomer 2 Mills Sanerivi  3 Erich de Jager 4 Javon Camp 5 Stan van den Hoven 6 Cam DavidowiczJoe Johnston (C) 8 Terrell Peita 9 Holden Yungert10 Beaudein Waaka 11 Paula Balekana 12 Wayne van der Bank 13 Jack Reeves 14 Mitch Wilson 15 Dougie Fife 16 Steven Hinshaw 17 Kyle Ciquera 18 Tevita Sole 19 Josh Larsen 20 Wian Conradie 21 John Poland 22 Le Roux Malan 23 Harrison Boyle

Rugby New York: 1 Chance Wenglewski  2 Kaleb Geiger  3 Kalolo Tuiloma 4 Ben Bonasso (C) 5 Charlie Hewitt 6 Dylan Fawsitt 7 Joe Basser8 Antonio Kiri Kiri 9 Connor Buckley 10 Andy Ellis 11 Andrew  Coe 12 Sam Windsor 13 Quinn Ngawati 14 Waisake Naholo 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder 16  Wilton Rebolo 17 Peter Reyes 18 Sak Taulafo 19 Victor Evans II 20 Brendon O’Connor 21 Conor McManus  22 John Powers 23 Ishmail Shabazz

New England Free Jacks 13-3, 62 points, 1st place

  • NOLA Gold 13-24 New England Free Jacks
  • Old Glory DC 25-41 New England Free Jacks
  • LA Giltinis 19-15 New England Free Jacks
  • Rugby New York 29-38 New England Free Jacks, Match Preview
  • New England Free Jacks 21-15 Toronto Arrows
  • Austin Gilgronis 17-25 New England Free Jacks
  • Rugby ATL 27-41 New England Free Jacks
  • New England Free Jacks 33-29 NOLA Gold
  • New England Free Jacks 24-22 Seattle Seawolves
  • Rugby New York 26-29 New England Free Jacks Match Preview
  • New England Free Jacks 33-17 Utah Warriors
  • New England Free Jacks 26-20 Old Glory DC
  • New England Free Jacks 15-10 Rugby ATL
  • Toronto Arrows 33-18 New England Free Jacks
  • New England Free Jacks 57-5 NOLA Gold
  • New England Free Jacks 14-21 Rugby New York
  • Eastern Conference Final: New England Free Jacks June 19 vs winner Rugby ATL or Rugby New York June 12
Rugby New York: Record 11-5, 56 points, 3rd place

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