New York rules over Princeton
Report by Craig Gridelli
It was a rare sunny, clear day on Saturday when your New York Rugby Club D2 men’s side defended their home pitch with a convincing 66-10 win against the Princeton Athletic Club.
PAC Rugby had finished the regular season as the second place team in the New Jersey division of the Empire GU. That finish earned them the fifth seed entering the Empire GU playoffs and saw them traveling to Randall’s Island to face-off with NYRC (#2 NYC division, #4 Empire GU).
NYRC was coming off two encouraging pre-season wins. A balanced win against the Penn State collegiate team and a hard-fought victory against Old Blue, both on the road, generated a growing sense of confidence in the NYRC clubhouse entering this opening playoff match.
Taking the field, both sides looked ready and eager to mix it up. PAC, a large side favoring power rugby, wore orange and black. NYRC wore their whites.
Action got underway quickly. NYRC kicked off and at the 5’ mark, conceded a penalty near midfield. The PAC fly-half, Long Ding, buried a long penalty goal, giving PAC the early 3-0 lead. But it was not to last for PAC.
A sequence of phases with creative, well-executed attacks put Rico Rosa into the corner of the in-goal at 10’, giving NYRC the 5-3 lead. And that was to be the way of it for the afternoon. Andrew Magowan (NYRC #10) organized the attack and used his precision boot to keep the pressure on the PAC defense until the final whistle. Despite their size and physicality, PAC had no answer for NYRC’s hard lines and support running and could muster only a limited challenge to NYRC’s stout defensive line. Mark Marwood (NYRC #12) dotted down at the 17’ minute mark, again at 35’ and for the third time at 73’. Robert Ennis (NYRC #7) and Andy Magowan added two tries a piece. Brandon Solomon (NYRC #11) and Max Lindemann (NYRC #4) also touched down tries in the team’s offensive explosion.
Consistent with the spring pre-season, the NYRC set piece maintained thorough control of the game. The front row of Joe Blomfield, Chad Hansen and Kyle Dean may be the most formidable in the Empire GU. Behind their effort, NYRC stole four opposing scrums in the first half. Clarke Smith (NYRC #6) and Keegan Duffy (NYRC #5) combined to form a double-threat in the lineout that kept PAC from ever seriously contesting NYRC throw ins.
The game ended in appropriate fashion, with NYRC scoring its last try at the 80’ mark.
After the game, NYRC hosted a gracious PAC team at Dorrians in the Upper East Side. Next, NYRC turns its focus to its upcoming road test against Morris. Morris knocked NYRC out of the playoffs last year on their way to an Elite 8 run. NYRC looks to get their revenge this Saturday and advance to the Empire GU finals.