Rugby New York Claw Back in Narrow Loss to Houston SaberCats

Rugby New York began the second half of their Major League Rugby season home against a Western Conference playoff contender, the Houston SaberCats, on Sunday, April 23 at Memorial Stadium in Mount Vernon, N.Y. The Ironworkers have been impacted by injuries with 13 of their 37 players injured according to commentator Mike Petri.

New York took an early 8-0 lead, but four tries by the SaberCats had the Ironworkers down 24-8 at the break. With the wind in the second half, Rugby New York added three tries to gain two bonus points in a 34-27 loss.

Match Recap

Houston opened the match with the wind behind their backs and kicked directly into touch for a New York scrum at midfield to begin the match. The SaberCats showed from the start that their scrum would dominate as they created a penalty driving New York off the ball. This resulted in a lineout  5 meters from in goal. The throw by Dean Muir was long and New York cleared.

From the ensuing Houston lineout, New York counterattacked from a box kick by Carlo de Nysschen. An offload by Monate Akuei to Dylan Fawsitt then swung Jason Emery down the left side and offloaded to Conor McManus for a try to lead 5-0 after the 3rd minute. As Sam Windsor approached the conversion attempt, the ball fell and his quick drop-kick attempt was missed.

Houston appeared to answer back with a try by Christian Dyer, however, after a TMO, an obstruction penalty negated the score.

A Conor McManus break to near Houston’s 22-meters resulted in a SaberCats penalty and a quick tap by Andrew Coe resulted in CC Mahoni being sent to the bin for not dropping back 10 meters. Sam Windsor slotted the penalty goal for an 8-0 lead.

Houston’s Head Coach Pote Human appeared to take issue with the yellow card at the hydration break and stormed onto the pitch. He was confronted by New York’s Head of High-Performance Ollie Richardson and slapped at Richardson’s head. Richardson was quickly separated, but he came back with an attempted punch at Human, who had been also isolated by CC Mahoni.  Both coaches were ejected from the match.

Update of Coaches incident. According to Grant Cole from feedback from the players’ sideline, comments about/ and to players may have sparked the incident. It is doubtful that this will be discussed further in public by the individuals involved or their teams. As for any infraction, expect an MLR disciplinary hearing this week.

The SaberCats struck right back with a Drew Wild offload to Davy Coetzer for a try in the corner to cut the lead to 8-5 as Coetzer’s conversion attempt bounced off the posts.

After a high ball deflected off Sam Windsor’s shoulder, Houston attacked wide left and Davy Coetzer was held up in goal for a goal drop by New  York. Carlo De Nysschen gathered the kick and attempted a drop goal that was missed.

The SaberCats’ attack was potent in the final ten minutes of the half with  Carlo De Nysschen finding a seam from close range for a try, with Coetzer adding the extras to take a 12-8 lead. Then a highball by Sam Windsor resulted in a Dom Akina offload to Veronika Tikoisolomone for a try in the left corner, 17-8 as Coetzer’s conversion was wide.

In two minutes of extra time of the half, Houston had an attacking lineout 5 meters from in goal. This resulted in a bonus point try from the ensuing maul by SaberCats captain Dean Muir with Coetzer adding the extras for a 24-8 lead at the break.

During the first half, the SaberCats scrum was dominant, driving the Ironworkers off the ball. Rugby New York had to get the ball out quickly, with Kara Pryor often picking and offloading to Conor McManus.

Second Half

Rugby New York kept up their feisty play during the second half with the wind at their backs. McManus offloaded weak to Monate Akuei who broke and offloaded to Brooklyn Hardaker for his first MLR career try. Jason Emry got a favorable bounce off the post for the extras as New York cut the lead to 24-15.

From the ensuing restart, a Tei Walden break and chip and chase had Coetzer grounding in-goal for a goal drop by Houston. New York attacked again and after multiple phases were penalized just short of in-goal with a penalty for not releasing.

With Houston substituting their front row, New York had a more solid scrum. They used this to their advantage winning their scrum and Jason Emery offloading to Andrew Coe for a try, 20-24 as Emery’s conversion was wide from touch.

Houston increased their lead with a penalty goal by Coetzer for a 27-20 lead. The SaberCats added a try after a loose ball at the breakdown was picked up by Dom Akina and offloaded to Christian Dyer for a try, with Coetzer adding the extras, 34-20.

With the match decided, Rugby New York still had something to play for if they could get a converted try, to gain two bonus points.

After an Ironworkers scrum in the 80th minute, a Hardaker grub and gather had New York near in goal. The ball went wide to Nick Feakes, who dotted down in goal. Sam Windsor, who returned to the match after an Emery HIA, slotted the conversion to bring the team to within 7 for a 34-27 loss.

This picked up two bonus points to keep New York in the playoff hunt in third place with 23 points to Old Glory’s 25. Also in the hunt are NOLA Gold with 21 points and Rugby ATL with 20.

With the win, Houston remains in second place in the Western Conference with 36 points, 4 points behind San Diego with 40.

The broadcast crew selected Houston SaberCats Christian Dyer as the  Player of the Match. It was also a special day for Rugby New York’s Brad Tucker, who was playing in his 50th MLR match.

Next Sunday, Rugby New York faces another difficult match away against the New England Free Jacks, while the Sabercats travel to San Diego to see who will top the table in the West.

Fans who attended the match, or who watched on Fox Sports 1 in the United States or on the Rugby Network internationally were treated to an exciting match with the outcome going down to the wire.

Rugby New York took advantage of their players being able to play multiple positions in the face of injuries and used a strong second half to be in a position to win. Credit the SaberCats for an excellent performance in the win.

Squad with Player Article Links

Rugby New York Ironworkers: 1 Sam Davies 2 Dylan Fawsitt Kaleb Geiger 4 Nate Brakeley (C) 5 Hamish Dalzell 6 Brad Tucker 7 Monate Akuei 8 Kara Pryor 9 Conor McManus 10 Jason Emery 11 Quinn Ngawati 12 Teihorangi Walden 13 Fa’asiu Fuatai 14 Andrew Coe 15 Sam Windsor 16 Daquan Perry 17 Anthony Parry 18 Enrique Quinteros 19 Charlie Hewitt 20 William Whiteside 21 Cristian Rodriguez 22 Nick Feakes 23 Brooklyn Hardaker

Houston SaberCats: 1 Rob Cobb  2 Dean Muir 3 Morgan Mitchell 4 CC Mahoni 5 Nathan Den Hoedt 6 Marno Redelinghuys 7 Wynand Grassman 8 Malon Al-Jiboori 9 Carlo De Nysschen 10 David Coetzer 11 Veriniki Tikoisolomone 12 Louritz Van Der Schyff 13 Dominic Akina14 Christian Dyer 15 Drew Wild 16 Alex Zapata 17 Alec McDonell 18 Pono Davis 19 Keni Nasaqeqe 20 Danny Barrett  21 Emmanuel Albert  22  Devereaux Ferris 23 Zach Pangelinan

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