Old Glory Can’t Overcome First Half Deficit for 46-10 Loss to NY
By Evan Lappen
Before a record crowd at Segra Field in Leesburg, Va on Armed Forces Day, Rugby United New York bombarded Old Glory DC with four tries in the first 20 minutes on the way to a 46-10 defeat of the home team. DC chased the game all day and was unable to recover and get on the front foot. OGDC will enjoy the Memorial Day holiday before returning to work for a business trip to New England this Sunday.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” Steven Longwell said. “We made it tough for ourselves. I thought we got back into the game when they got the double yellow card, but we got too excited, and it turned into a little bit frantic rugby. We tried to play too much when we didn’t necessarily have to, and that cost us the game, unfortunately.”
“It didn’t start well,” captain/assistant coach Callum Gibbins said. “They played really well in the first 20, and we were on the back foot the whole game… [NY] plays a really good offloading game and came through the middle of our ruck a few times. They got some great momentum there. We slipped and missed tackles; our one-on-one tackles weren’t good enough. Throughout the game, our line got better, and we were pretty good on defense, but in crucial moments, we weren’t good enough. Along with their offloads, they were pretty hard to stop.”
“We wanted to create a spark and energy about the New York style of rugby,” NY attack coach Marty Bourke said. “We knew DC is a really good team if they get a roll on early. They play a bit of territory and set the benchmark around their attacking play. We tried to nullify them early. The crowd was great so keeping them quiet helped… Credit to the boys, their skill and execution in the first half was brilliant.”
RUNY was on fire from the start. Dylan Fawsitt scored his seventh try of the season off a 25-meter lineout maul on NY’s first possession, and Apenisa Cakaubalavu followed minutes later on an unlucky kick deflection. In the 11th minute, NY turned an attempted ruck steal by DC into a great string of offloads that sent Nate Brakeley crashing in for the try.
OGDC had a chance to break up the onslaught, but Jason Robertson’s kick to touch went over the dead-ball line. New York resumed its attack as Harry Bennett set up Ben Foden with a line break. After the forwards moved the ball closer, Foden got it back with an assist from Andy Ellis for the try. Chris Mattina added two conversions to bring the score to 24-0.
The initial blitzkrieg quieted the crowd, but a few post-play festivities energized the masses. Gibbins and Benjamín Bonasso got into it in the 23rd minute and provided the spark Old Glory needed. An early tackle by Ellis on a quick tap by Robertson only increased the tension between the two teams. OGDC took the ensuing lineout maul to the five, and Longwell dotted it down on a second effort. The chippiness was ignited again in the try zone, but DC erased the goose egg.
With the crowd volume and tempers rising, the referee finally had enough. NY’s Kara Pryor was yellow-carded for no arms in the tackle in the 29th minute, and Bennett joined him in the bin for tripping.
With the two-man advantage, the forwards mauled it inside the 22, and Danny Tusitala spun the ball out to the backs. Robertson linked up with Dylan Taikato-Simpson, who offloaded to Renata Roberts-Te Nana for his fourth try of the year. Robertson’s conversion was wide, and OGDC trailed 24-10 with eight minutes remaining in the half.
New York added a penalty in the 36th minute, but it was DC who could have had a huge momentum changer at the end of the half. Dallas broke into NY’s territory, and Mikey Sosene-Feagai barreled through Bonasso before offloading to Tevita Naqali. With an open try in front of him, the Fijian lock celebrated too early, and Foden knocked the ball out of his hands before he could dot it down. With time expired, DC went into the locker room with plenty to discuss.
RUNY was back to full strength shortly after halftime and extended its lead five minutes into the frame. DC was in prime position with a scrum inside the 22; however, Bennett picked off Robertson’s pass and cleared it downfield. Mike Dabulas won the foot race and Robertson kicked the ball into touch. Bennett made a heads-up play with a quick lineout to Pryor who maneuvered through a still retreating defense for the try. With the conversion, NY was up 34-10.
Old Glory tried its best to get back into the game, but costly errors and a stout NY defense prevented any opportunities from being realized. RUNY would score two more times in the final ten minutes to bring the final margin to 46-10. Old Glory’s fighting spirit never waned, and the DC faithful should be proud of their team’s effort.
“We have to take the learnings of this game into next week and hopefully grow our game a little bit,” Gibbins said. “Our attitude is we will never give up, but we got to be better for longer, and today we weren’t. The effort was there, but we have to be better in certain moments.”
“We’re just disappointed we couldn’t get the win this week,” Longwell concluded. “We’ll take it on the chin and move on. We got a big game against another east coast rival next week, so we’re excited for [New England].”