Boston came into New York and departed with what may be a crucial victory in the East conference, defeating NYAC by a score of 35-24. Perfect game day conditions contributed to a wide-open entertaining game, with Boston getting the better of the opening exchanges. A try by winger Kyle Marshall opened the scoring, converted by Nick Elrich, who added a penalty to stretch the lead before NYAC opened scoring with a try by Tim Lenevez. Brendan Moore stretched Boston’s lead with another try, before NYAC scored back to back converted tries to reclaim the 19-15 halftime lead. Lenevez with his second and Steve Annunziato were the NYAC scorers, with Pete O’Brien converting two of them.
In the second half, two crucial moments in the game were capitalized upon by the visitors. In the first, with NYAC close to the Boston line, a bobbled pass was pounced upon by Glenn MacKenzie, who took it the distance for a solo try. Elrich again converted and soon after added another penalty. In the second incident, the old adage of “play to the whistle” still stands, as players from both sides seemed to pause at a ruck allowing the alert Boston defense to begin a movement which was finished off by Duran Vota. The conversion put Boston in a commanding 32-19 lead, and this was further stretched by another Elrich penalty to 35-19 with ten minutes left. NYAC’s Paul Jesseman finished off the day’s scoring with his sides’ fourth try and a potentially crucial bonus point.
“We were put under a lot of pressure by NYAC early, especially in the second twenty minutes of the first half, but we responded well to the pressure” says Boston’s Mike Diamantopoulos says, adding that “the team was really happy to beat the champions, a major accomplishment for the team”, and is eager to get right back to it, facing the Griffins next week.
Down in Georgia, Life University earned their second win of the season over the Chicago Lions at home, 47-17. Although the weather felt like mid-summer in Georgia, both sides played through the heat and battled to the end.
Tui Osborne put Life on the board first with a try just one minute into the game. Aaron McMaster followed with a conversion and two penalty kicks before Tui scored for Life again, leading the Lions 20-0. Jason Bloom and Phil Thiel also put up tries, and with three more conversions by McMaster, Life led 34-0. With one minute remaining Chicago's Nate Ellis scored to put the Lions on the board before the half ended at 34-5. "During halftime I told our boys that we can't make mistakes because Life will capitalize on every one of them. We had a slow start and lacked a sense of urgency," said Head Coach Marty Wiggins. "We came out much stronger in the second half."
Chicago immediately pushed back at the start of the second half with a try from John Vitale just four minutes in. A good conversion from Jordan Highberger narrowed the gap, 34-12. With 25 minutes remaining, Paul Emerick made his debut as a Running Eagle. "I didn't know what to expect," said Emerick after the game. "I haven't played domestic rugby since '03, but I felt very welcomed on the field." McMaster scored another penalty kick for Life, which ignited Chicago to fight back with one more try to bring the score to 37-17. Life's Pete Burt and Tui Osborne ended the half with one more try a piece, sealing the win for Life 47-17.
"I was highly frustrated because we switched off in the second half, and today's effort is not the team we aspire to be," said Life Head Coach James Isaacson. "The Lions are a dogged side and coming off spring break helped us prepare for this match, but we didn't play as well as we should have."
Sounding relieved, Chicago Griffins coach Wez Parkes reports the Griffins triumphed over the visiting Old Blue side, 22-16 being the final score. Old Blue was first on the score sheet at the ten minute mark, with Eliot Rechtin slotting an early penalty under perfect conditions. Andrew Suniula responded with a try for the Griffins which he converted himself. Rechtin added his third penalty at the end of the half to regain the lead for Old Blue. The Griffins recaptured the lead halfway through the second half through a Suniula penalty. Five minutes later, Griffins winger Pat Marek scored a try to stretch the lead for the home team. Entering the last ten minutes, Suniula crossed again, and his conversion pushed the score to 22-9. Old Blue continued to fight, and the team was rewarded with a try from Jonathan Amato. The Rechtin conversion narrowed the score to 22-16, and earned Old Blue the consolation point. With both sides trying to get their first win of the season, “It was a little untidy on both sides, with the tackle contest providing turnover after turnover ” says Parkes, indicating an area both teams can improve on.
An inch of snow on the ground and a blowing wind helped keep things tight in Utah, but the visitors took home an impressive win, knocking off the Utah Warriors by a score of 18-17. A big effort from OPSB’s forwards set the basis for the win, according to OPSB’s Evan Haigh. Winger Filimoni Botitu hit the first try for the visitors, converted by Evan Haigh. Haigh added a couple of penalties in the half. In response, Utah posted two unconverted tries to leave the halftime score at 13-10 to OPSB.
In the second half, Bobby Fitzpatrick added another try to extend the lead to 18-10 for the visitors. In the dying minutes, Utah scored a converted try to narrow the gap to a single point, but that was to be the extent of the scoring for the day. The win pushes OPSB three points ahead of Utah in the standings, and the two teams will face each other again in the final game of the season in what could be a pivotal encounter.
That game increasingly looks like the decider for second place in the conference, as San Francisco Golden Gate continues its stranglehold on first place by rolling over Denver Barbarians by a score of 52-24. Details to follow.