Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
by Ted Hardy
The four playoff teams, representing the two conferences in the USA Rugby Super League, are nearly set as Boston and Life secured their places in the post season this past weekend and Old Puget Sound Beach inched ever so closer to clinching.
The teams join Red Conference leaders San Francisco Golden Gate who had already wrapped up their trip to the playoffs.
Even though Boston and Life have secured playoff spots, they still have plenty to play for in the coming weeks. The two teams meet for the second time this season on April 30th and the winner of this game, to be played in Boston, takes home the Blue Conference title and gets a home game for their first playoff game.
Here’s a look at the Super League action from this weekend.
Chicago Griffins at Boston – Boston (4-1) charged out to a 32-3 lead shortly into the second half on a cold and windy New England spring day. In a game that was a tale of two halves, the Griffins (1-4) charged back to nearly pull off the upset before falling to Boston 32-27.
The wind played a huge part in the game as Boston had the wind to their advantage in the first half and the Griffins had it to use in the second half.
Boston’s Coach Michael Diamantopoulos was pleased with Boston’s first half performance but said, “It’s an 80-minute game and they need to concentrate for those full eighty minutes. Credit goes to Chicago for pulling themselves back in to the game in the second half.”
USA Eagle, USA 7’s players and brothers Andrew Suniula (Chicago) and Roland Suniula (Boston) eached scored a try in the game. Andrew Suniula also added a penalty goal and two conversions for the Griffins.
Life Running Eagles at Old Blue New York – Life (5-0) remained atop the Blue Conference standings with a sound 34-13 win over Old Blue (0-5). Life got two tries from Pat Danahy and single tries from Steve Petzel and Aaron McMaster in the winning effort. McMaster also added four conversions and two penalty goals for Life.
Old Blue received tries from Will Brazier and John Hoehmann and a penalty by Elliot Rechtin but couldn’t overcome the Life attack.
The win sets up a winner-takes-all matchup next weekend between Life and Boston for the Blue Conference title and the #1 seed coming out of the East.
New York Athletic Club at Chicago Lions – In a game that neither team could afford to lose, the Chicago Lions (3-2) overcame the defending RSL champs NYAC (2-3) by a score of 12-10 on a rainy and snowy day in Chicago. The miserable playing conditions led to sloppy play on the part of both teams.
Both teams needed to win to have any hope of reaching the playoffs, but even more so for NYAC who could have still usurped Boston regardless of whether Boston won this weekend. The Lions, on the other hand, needed Boston to lose to the Griffins to stay in the race.
Tries by John Vitale and Matt Priest and a conversion by Mark Roberts was enough to give Chicago Lions the victory, but not enough to keep their playoff hopes alive. NYAC’s lone try was scored by Paul Jesseman and converted by Tim LeNevez who also slotted a penalty goal.
San Francisco Golden Gate at Utah Warriors – SFGG traveled to Utah to face the Warriors in one of the most talked about games on the American rugby schedule this weekend. SFGG (5-0) stayed atop the Red Conference standings with a resounding 49-29 win over the Warriors (2-3), who lost their third straight game, two of which came at the hands of SFGG.
Warriors Coach Jon Law said, “It was very competitive game, SFGG did what good teams do, they made very few mistakes and capitalized on several Warriors errors.”
Utah got tries from Mike Palefau, Ben Nicholis, Jason Pye and John Van Der Giessen but it was not enough to answer the 49 points that SFGG put on the board.
The win clinches the Red Conference title for SFGG and a home game for the opening round of the playoffs.
Dallas Harlequins at Denver Barbarians – The Barbarians made quick work of the Harlequins as they dispatched the side form Dallas 84-10. Denver (2-3) unloaded a 14-try attack on the Harlequins (0-5).
Josh Masek and Tommy Pasque each scored two tries for the Barbarians while Chris Moreno, Luke Leinweber, Adam Drury, Mike Mangan, Garrett Peterson, Logan Collins, Jody Kramer, Issac Stroope, Eric Wade, and Max DeAchaval each added tries of their own in the rout. DeAchaval rounded out the scoring with seven conversions.
There is only one game on the Super League schedule this coming weekend due to the Easter Holiday and it is going to be a good one. Old Puget Sound Beach travels to Denver with playoffs on their mind. A win clinches a playoff spot for OPSB while a Denver victory keeps the Barbarians’ slim playoff hopes alive.
The RSL completes their regular season schedule on April 30th with a full slate of games including the very important Life/Boston clash.