MAPLEWOOD MN- With only a minute remaining in the match, Alexa Scott sliced through almost 80 meters of Amazon defence to touch down the final try of the day, securing an additional bonus point for the New York Rugby Club in their 53-41 win over the Twin City Amazons.
“I remember seeing two pretty big forwards coming at me and then [coach] James’ words came into my head: GO FOR THE BRANCHES, NOT THE TRUNKS! So that’s what I did!” Scott said, still reeling from the excitement of the moment.
Scott was one of eight rostered athletes who could not have lived up more to the designation of “impact player” on Sunday. Substitutions were made for NYRC beginning in the 50th minute of the match, when the Amazons held a narrow lead of 29-27. If you were to speak with any of the players or staff, they would all agree that the injected energy brought by the reserve squad is what boosted NYRC into a hard-fought defeat of the ‘Zons.
In past years, NYRC has found themselves being welcomed to Minneapolis by fall foliage and crisp, if not chilly, weather. The conditions yesterday, however, provided the match with anything but an autumn feel. With temperatures pushing into the high 80’s, the NYRC/Amazons match kicked off at 11am CST.
Within the first 6 minutes, the Amazons’ took a 10-0 lead by playing an unexpected, fast offensive game. NYRC responded with a statement from their back line, dotting down 3 tries of their own (Salomon (15), Roselin (11), Faaee (12) in the proceeding 6 minutes. By the 25th minute of the match, the teams held a 15-15 tie. With what seemed to be a continued back-and-forth score, NYRC finished the first half with a 10-point lead over the Amazons, 27-17. While the heat and physicality of the match both had a noticeable impact, it was impressive to end the first half with a try from each and every starting NYRC back line player.
“We put a huge focus on finishing at training this past week,” said winger Lisa Roselin (11), “which really showed this weekend. Each of us focused on finding the best space to attack, and as a result found ourselves in the try zone.”
Going into the second half, Twin Cities wasted no time in closing the score gap. Within ten minutes, the Amazons regained control of the scoreboard, leading 31-27 in the 50th minute. While NYRC’s attack continued to find opportunities to capitalize on, the Amazons gained almost a ten-point lead, including a cherry-pick and score by center and eagle Sylvia Braaten, with 19 minutes remaining.
Captain Tiff Faaee (12) notes that how the team responded when falling behind made a huge difference in the match outcome.
“The team stayed composed and patient and trusted our system,” said Faaee. “We did a good job of keeping each other's heads up when we were behind and of taking care of the little things so that the big stuff could happen.”
The “big stuff” ended up including a total of 9 tries and 4 conversions from NYRC, several break-aways, consistent support lines, and big hits around the breakdown. Impact players injected energy into the second half, with a notable break away from prop Jackie Johnson (16) and hard hits from second row Nicole Carroll (19).
In a nail-biting finale, NYRC went into the final 12 minutes of the match trailing by only 4 points (41-37). Tries from centre Rebecca Brafman (21) and Fly half Kristen Siano (10) brought NYRC on top by four points (46-41) with only 5 minutes remaining.
“It all happened so fast, we weren’t really sure what the score was.” said centre/winger Emily Maggee (13). “I was just so pumped. It was a real team effort and it was incredible to be a part of.”
Alexa Scott’s 80-meter return on a 22m drop, along with a conversion from Siano, sealed the bonus point win for NYRC’s 53-41 victory against the Amazons.
“The impact of the bench was the difference,” emphasized Coach James English. “We can bring on players who add real value and are hungry to show what they can do. Competition for places is stronger than ever and selections have never been more difficult. It's a great place to be as a coach.”
Scrumhalf Shelby Lin (9) echoed English’s sentiments. “Our finishers came on and had immediate impact injecting energy into the game, from line breaks to big hits to touching down tries.” said Lin. “It’s always especially fun to play such a close game with the lead going back and forth. It forces us to test our mental toughness and ability to hang together as a team.”
The afternoon concluded with a combined team rookie skit. The Amazon and NYRC rookies performed a rendition of Jerry Springer that involved a custody battle over a pet dog.
Overall, a well-contested match from both sides in Maplewood, Minnesota this past Sunday. NYRC returns to the big apple with an ever-adapting list of work-ons as they look forward to taking on the D.C. Furies this coming Saturday, September 30th in Morristown, New Jersey. Make sure to follow the action live on Twitter and Instagram!
Updated 23:20 - 13 Oct 2017 by Cynthia Wright