In week 7 of the Rugby Super League, we had NYAC over Old Blue 31-16, Chicago Griffins over Denver Barbarians 23-19 and Life University over Dallas Harlequins 45-27.
In New York, the second meeting of the season between NYAC and Old Blue resulted in another win for NYAC, 31-16 the final score this time. The game followed a similar pattern to the first one – a close game until late, when NYAC pulled away for what looked like a comfortable win on the scoreboard. But the score might be a little deceiving, as the halftime score was just 12-11 to NYAC. Indeed Old Blue might have had the halftime lead if not for a botched conversion attempt.
In the second half, NYAC looked like they were going to open things up, but handling errors were numerous despite the perfect conditions and the score was stuck on 19-11 with less than fifteen minutes to play. Finally NYAC started putting points on the board and scored three tries to put some daylight between the teams. Old Blue scored a late consolation try to make the score respectable at 31-16, but NYAC secured another bonus point win to move to a commanding 5-0 record in the conference.
In Chicago, a late scramble was in order, as Denver fought back from an 18-6 deficit to take the lead with about five minutes left, only to see Chicago score again in the 83rd minute to claim the win, 23-19 the final score.
In a low scoring first half, Denver was first on the board with a Maximo De Achaval penalty, before Chicago started a sustained assault on the Denver line. Three times the Griffins had set pieces that didn’t pay off, until finally Villi Fakatou finished off a maul from a lineout to put the Griffins on the board. The Roland Suniula conversion made it 7-3, and just as the half expired, the Griffins decided to have Suniula kick a penalty to make the score 10-3.
In the second half, Suniula and De Achaval exchanged penalties before Chicago powered over for their second try, scored by Chalie Baleirara, to stretch the lead to 18-6. Denver started exerting some influence on the game, and after a long attack, halfback Ben Nicholls touched down, and the conversion narrowed the gap to 18-13. De Achaval added another penalty to make it 18-16, and with five minutes left, yet another De Achaval penalty recaptured the lead for Denver. As time was about to expire, the Griffins began a multi phase movement that was that ended up with fullback Corey Quiglia touching down the game winning try.
“We certainly had our opportunities” said Denver rep John Kenney, “we were inside their 22 multiple times and just didn’t get any points, we were putting together several phases and had the opportunity to put multiple points on the board, but credit the defense, they defended well and from there we knew we were in for a battle”. Wez Parkes of the Chicago Griffins was happy with the final result, if not the way it was obtained. “The good thing was that we hung in there and had an opportunity to turn it around at the end and that’s what we did. Denver has been hammered by injuries and they were real desperate for a win and if we don’t get the basics right anything can happen.”
In Dallas, Life University got back on the winning track, but not before Dallas Harlequins made them work hard for the win. The final score was 45-27 to Life. Dallas was first on the board with a Shawn Begg penalty, as Life appeared to have trouble shaking off the cobwebs from the 800 mile bus journey. Dallas continued to press, being awarded several penalties before the referee decided to sit a Life player down for ten minutes due to the continued infractions. The yellow seemed to wake Life up a bit, and Cathal Doyle notched Life’s first try after a rolling mail. Minutes later, Life’s Tui Osborne picked up a loose pass and sprinted 90 meters for a try. As the half wound down, Doyle scored his second try of the half, and Life was 19-3 ahead, despite Dallas controlling much of the territory and possession up to this point. Dallas did manage to claw a score back, Shawn Begg scoring after Dallas hammered away at the try line for a while, and the Begg conversion made it 19-10 at the half.
Dallas started the second as they finished the first half, Gonzalo Ruiz scoring an unconverted try to narrow the gap to 19-15. But this was as close as Dallas would come, as the game opened up and the tries seemed to come from everywhere. Life added four more tries and Dallas responded with two in a seventeen minute stretch that had the scoreboard ticking over often. Life seemed to get better as the game went on, overwhelming the Dallas defense by maintaining continuity and reducing the amount of possession on which Dallas might counter. Dallas did score the four tries and got a bonus point out of the proceedings, while Life continues to put pressure on NYAC at the top of the standings.