RSL Week 2 Review
New York 43 @ Dallas 3
New York Athletic Club pulled away from the Dallas Harlequins in the second half to record a 43-3 win in Dallas on Saturday. Once again, the Harlequins have precious little to show for a solid effort, in a game where they pressured for long sequences and enjoyed territorial advantage for much of the first half. For NYAC, a slow first half gave way to a second where the team upped the tempo considerably and used the bench to great effect, scoring six tries to gain maximum points from the fixture.
NYAC got off to the best possible start with an early try. Playing against a very strong wind, NYAC passed on an attempt at goal and instead kicked for the corner. NYAC won the lineout and spun the ball wide for fullback Chris Chapman to cross the try line. Alan MacGinty added the conversion for an easy 7-0 lead just three minutes into the game. Ominously the restart was muffed for Dallas and led to NYAC pressing again. But Dallas regrouped and repelled the visitors and started moving the ball down into NYAC territory. NYAC did not help their cause much by repeatedly getting penalized and enabling Dallas to pin them down inside their 22. Dallas had several periods of pressuring NYAC but repeatedly came away without points.
About a half hour in, NYAC has their best period in a while, with a break in the centers stretching the Dallas line, but a knock on stopped the attack. Minutes later, NYAC passed on another kickable penalty opportunity, but a promising break was halted by another penalty. The momentum switched to back to Dallas, who pressured and forced a penalty at the NYAC 22, which was duly converted by Charles Davidson to reduce the halftime deficit to 7-3.
NYAC started the second half with a renewed sense of urgency. An early attack on the Dallas line was cleared after NYAC conceded a penalty, but shortly after a smart kick through bounced nicely for Chris Chapman to gather and score easily. More pressure follow by NYAC, who camped out inside the Dallas 22 for ten minutes before finally scoring under the posts, Alan MacGinty getting the credit for that one. The conversion pushed the score to 19-3. NYAC appeared to throw away another try scoring opportunity by kicking through as the line beckoned, but the visitors quickly made amends with Steve Evans scoring in the left corner. NYAC is deep into the reserves bench at this point and suddenly it was all NYAC, with Michael Schacter and Conor Coyne notching two more tries.
Dallas continued to push, and laid siege to the NYAC line but a knock on stopped the threat. NYAC moved back upfield and Steve Annunziato hits the final try of the day for NYAC, which ended the scoring at 43-3. “Dallas was really physical with us and it took us a while to get our act together” reports NYAC coach Bruce MacLane, adding “we were very happy with the way the bench performed when they came in, they played with impact rather than just closing the game out”. NYAC will host Boston March 24, while Dallas will enjoy a week off.
Chicago Griffins 45 @ Denver Barbarians 35
In Denver, the fans were treated to a barnburner of a game, as the Barbarians and the visiting Chicago Griffins played a wide open high scoring game. The Griffins were first out of the blocks, pressuring the Denver line early. Five minutes in, the Griffins pass up a kickable penalty attempt and kick to the corner. The Griffins won the lineout and mauled over for the early 5-0 lead, Villi Fakatou emerging from the pile with the ball. Denver hit back quickly to make the score 5-3 with a Maximo de Achaval penalty, but Griffins scored again with a blind-side move off an attacking 5m scrum, right wing Pat Marek scoring the try and Cal Doggett hitting the sideline conversion for a 12-3 advantage. Five minutes later, Chicago took a scrum against the head, and a long pass to Brendan Brown enabled the left winger to score in the corner. Doggett again nailed the sideline conversion.
Trailing 19-3, the Barbarians hit back with a couple of de Achaval penalties, but a kick through by Chicago led to the defender being caught in possession and Marek scored again. Minutes later, following a scrum on the halfway line, out half Roland Suniula launched a kick deep into Barbarian territory, and the high bounce fell into the hands of Pat Marek, who jogged across the try line for his third try of the first half and a big 33-9 halftime lead for the Griffins.
Early in the second half, good work by Zach Makavilitogia led to a try by Denver’s Hunter Leland. After sustaining some Griffin pressure, Denver had some crisp handling from deep in their own half to send Taylor Howden over for a try. The conversion brought the score to 33-21 and with twenty minutes left, Denver sensed the comeback was possible. Chicago had other thoughts however and stretched the lead to 40-21 with another score, Chicago’s field position aided tremendously by 80 meter clearance kicks that went over the dead ball line, giving Chicago the ball back in good attacking position.
Two tries in quick succession by Denver’s Tommy Pasque and Luke Leinweber brought Denver back to within five points at 40-35. But another Denver clearance kick from the 22 went over the opposite dead ball line, giving the Griffins a great attacking platform, and seconds later the Griffins forwards crashed over for the game- securing try. The Chicago Griffins will have their home opener against reigning champions San Francisco Golden Gate March 24, while Denver will have the weekend off.
Boston 5 @ New York Old Blue 37
In New York, Old Blue supporters were hoping for a better result than they have been getting lately, as their team took on Boston. And Old Blue certainly delivered, rushing out to a twenty point halftime lead. Considerable improvement by Old Blue in the set pieces and general play marked the day, and that along with some accurate passing led to a convincing score. Boston struggled to compete due to a stout Old Blue defense and a high penalty count.
It was more of the same in the second half, with Old Blue stretching the lead to before Boston got a late consolation score. 37-5 was the final score, with Old Blue flanker Derek Lipscomb notching two tries, and Jorge Pizzaro and Ashley Moeke each getting one. Four conversions and three penalties rounded out the Old Blue scoring, while Brendan Ridge scored the lone Boston try late in the game. “We were beaten by the better team today” said Boston coach Mike Diamantopoulos, “we did not have a good day. Not much went well for us, we had unforced errors, we couldn’t get anything going”.
Both teams have tough matchups next week, with Boston making another trip to New York, this time to take on NYAC, while Old Blue will hope to keep the momentum going against the visiting Life University.