RSL Week 1 Review
In New York, New York Athletic Club pulled away from local rivals Old Blue late, finishing the game with a 34-10 win. The lopsided score was somewhat surprising, since the two sides seemed evenly matched and the score was 15-10 entering the final quarter.
“We overloaded them with pressure in the second half” said NYAC Coach Bruce McLane. "We thought it was a matter of when, not if, we were going to break through”. NYAC’s Mike Tolkin, in charge for the final time for NYAC before taking over as the USA National Coach, commented “it was a great way to go out, I’m really happy. It was a bittersweet ending to the eleven years here. Our guys played a very solid second half, kept the mistakes down. The team steadily improved throughout the day, laid a solid foundation for the rest of the season”. Tolkin was impressed by Old Blue also, saying “it’s a much improved Old Blue team, they are going to do very well this year”.
The opening twenty minutes of the game were pretty even, NYAC hitting an early penalty, and Old Blue notching one by Ashley Moeke following a sustained period of pressure by the Old Blue pack. A couple of other penalty attempts did not cross the bar for Old Blue, one hitting the post. After some pressure by NYAC deep in the Old Blue half, a clearance kick was capitalized on by the countering NYAC backline, who returned it for a converted try and a 10-3 lead. Old Blue responded quickly, with clean ball passed through the hands for fullback Steve Strydom to touch down in the left corner. Moeke nailed the sideline conversion to tie up the score. Shortly after the restart, NYAC stretched the Old Blue defense with some sideline to sideline plays, and scored a try in the corner to take a 15-10 halftime lead.
The second half ran for about twenty minutes without a score, though NYAC came close on a couple of occasions. Entering the final twenty minutes, NYAC took full advantage of an Old Blue yellow card, scoring 19 unanswered points to take the bonus point win over the local rivals. Chris Chapman was credited with two tries from his fullback position, while Louis Stansfill, Neil McMillan and Mike Petri each had one in the game.
“We were in the game for sixty minutes” said Old Blue coach Marty Veale, “then we had some defensive lapses, allowed a couple of line breaks. It was a typical AC and Old Blue game, tough up front” said the new Old Blue Coach. Old Blue hosts Boston next weekend while NYAC will travel to Dallas.
In Marietta, GA, the visiting Dallas Harlequins got off to the best possible start against Life University, with Charles Davidson slotting an early penalty. The advantage was short-lived however, with Tui Osborne quickly responding with a penalty to even the score. A few minutes later, taking advantage of a quick tapped penalty, Life moved the ball quickly to left wing Sean Van Rensburg, who finished off the movement by touching down for an 8-3 lead. Five minutes later, Osborne added a try after Life stretched the Dallas defense again. At the twenty five minute mark, Van Rensburg added his second try, a long effort down the sideline to bring the score to 18-3.
Dallas regrouped and had a period of sustained pressure with repeated attacks up the middle, but the ‘Quins were not doing themselves any favors with several handling errors. Quins pressure led to a yellow card for Life, but the resulting penalty did not corss the bar. At the start of the second half, Dallas pressured again but another turnover ended that threat. Dallas was finally rewarded with a try scored by flanker Matt Welsh to bring the score to 18-8. Life responded quickly and Peter Burt crashed over from close range, a try converted by Osborne. A red card to prop Chris Sullivan opened up the door for Dallas again, but the opportunity closed as Dallas was hit with two yellow cards to negate the advantage. Shortly after the second card, Benny Mateialona weaved his way through the Dallas defense for another try, Osborne again converting to stretch the score the 32-8. Shortly after, Aaron McMaster broke through for another try, and with the Osborne conversion, pushed the score to 39-8.
Another Life try seemed possible with replacement winger Clint Whittler making a long run up the right sideline, but Dallas was able to stop the attack. Dallas quickly counter attacked, and Whittler covered a lot of ground to get back to prevent the score in the opposite corner. Dallas looked like their efforts were going to be rewarded with some consolation points, with Gonzalo Ruiz, who was impressive throughout the day, pressing hard towards the try-line, but Life was able to prevent any more scores and the score remained 39-8.
Life University has a bye in week 2, while Dallas will play host to NYAC.