Rugby United New York made a statement on Sunday afternoon.
After hanging tough with the 2018 Major League Rugby champion Seattle Seawolves back in their third match of the season in a loss, RUNY (6-1) defeated the Glendale Raptors, the other half of last year’s championship match, 31-19.
Despite a late push by the Raptors, (3-3-2), RUNY’s red-hot start, dominant forward pack and stellar defense slammed the door on any chance for a Glendale comeback.
“We are eight games into the season now,” Glendale Raptors’ captain Shaun Davies said after the match. “We need to take a hard look at the reflection of ourselves and come out strong for the next eight games.”
RUNY didn’t waste much time getting the scoring started. They jumped out to an early 7-0 lead after inside center Mike St. Clair broke three different Raptors’ tackles on what was a big run up the middle of the pitch for a try in the eighth minute.
The Raptors responded a few minutes later with a try of their own when fullback Dylan Taikato-Simpson caught a kick around midfield, threw a dummy to create some space and stepped a RUNY defender before placing the ball between the pipes. Glendale fly-half Will Magie nailed the conversion to tie the match at seven points apiece.
RUNY responded just before the match’s first hydration break in a way that they’ve done a handful of times this season. Their forwards bullied their way in for a try using a series of pick-and-drives, with flanker James Denise eventually dotting the ball down. Fly-half Chris Mattina added the conversion to give RUNY a 14-7 lead heading into the first break.
New York came out swinging after the break.
Their first try of the second stanza came from hooker Dylan Fawsitt as a result of a driving maul off a line out. Fawsitt’s fifth try of the season gave RUNY a 19-7 lead in the 30th minute and marked only the beginning of Glendale’s trouble in the lineout.
Their next try came in the 38th minute and all but drained Glendale’s hope of making a comeback.
After a Raptors knock on, RUNY played the advantage at their own 10-meter line. Ross Deacon gathered the ball and sent it out to wing Luke Hume who put a grubber through the fractured Raptors defense. The ball took a wild hop right over the outstretched arms of Glendale fullback Taikato-Simpson and into the hands of RUNY’s hard-charging scrum-half Mike Petri who flicked it back to Humes in support. Humes sent the the numbers out wide and eventually into the hands of outside-center Mark O’Keefe who scored the ball into the corner and provided RUNY with the four-try bonus point. Mattina’s conversion gave RUNY a 24-7 lead into the half.
The Raptors came out with a handful of different players in their lineup in a move that sparked aggressiveness and immediately paid dividends. Fly-half Will Magie slashed through the defense and fed scrum-half Shaun Davies who scored a try to cut RUNY’s lead to 24-12 in the 43rd minute.
Both RUNY and Glendale traded tries as the match went on, but Glendale wasn’t able to burst through the RUNY defense to secure both available bonus points.The loss and inability to pick up a bonus point could prove to be costly down the road. Both RUNY and Glendale entered the match with 23 points in the league table. The five points that RUNY picked up in the victory propelled them into second place behind the NOLA Gold while the Raptors remain in fourth place.
“We know we are going to make the playoffs,” Davies said of the Raptors’ mentality moving forward. “We are going to push hard for them. We just need to take a long look in the mirror and get better from this game. That’s all we can do.”
Glendale will host the first-place NOLA Gold on Saturday, March 30 while RUNY will travel to Austin to take on the Elite.
Rugby United New York
Tries: Mike St. Claire, James Denise, Dylan Fawsitt, Mark O’Keefe (2)
Conversions: Chris Mattina (3/5)
Penalty Goals: N/A
Tries: Dylan Taikato-Simpson, Shaun Davies, Robbie Petzer
Conversions: Will Magie (2/3)
Penalty Goals: N/A