Game Preview: RUNY at Atlanta
- Rugby United New York (1-1) takes on Rugby ATL (2-0) today at 3 PM EST
- NOLA Gold, Old Glory DC, and the Toronto Arrows all won yesterday-keeping the Eastern Conference competitive in these early stages of the season
- Fans in the US: Watch live on ESPN+; fans outside of US: watch on USMLR Facebook page
RUNY Head Coach Greg McWilliams made three changes from last week’s starting XV. James Rochford, who appeared in all 17 matches during the 2019 campaign, makes his first appearance of the 2020 season. On the other side of the scrum, Paddy Ryan returns from an injury he suffered back in Week One. For the first time this year, Rochford, Dylan Fawsitt, and Ryan will be packing down in the scrum together.
Charlie Hewitt has been tapped for the starting lineup after spending preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season with the Houston Sabercats. The 6’7 second row had a strong 2018 season down in Texas and is looking to regain that form in 2020.
The rest of the starting lineup remains untouched from last week. Kyle Sumsion, James Denise, and Mathieu Bastareaud make up the back-row unit. In the backs, Marcus Walsh and Cathal Marsh combine again in the halfbacks. Chris Mattina and rookie Troy Lockyear will feature in the midfield for the second consecutive week. Lockyear had a breakout performance last week that earned him MLR Player of the Week honors. Connor Wallace-Sims, Mark O’Keeffe, and Ben Foden round out the starting 15.
Veterans Mike Brown, Anthony Parry, and Kirk Hamilton are the front row reserves. Rookie Robert Irimescu and the physical Hanco Germishuys, signed this week, round out the forward options on the bench. Vice Captain Mike Petri, fly half Harry Bennett, and center Quentin Pradere complete the match day 23.
15. Foden 14. O’Keeffe 13. Lockyear 12. Mattina 11. Wallace-Sims 10. Marsh 9. Walsh ; 1. Rochford 2. Fawsitt (c) 3. Ryan 4. Hewitt 5. Brakeley 6. Sumsion 7. Denise 8. Bastareaud ; 16. Brown 17. Parry 18. Hamilton 19. Irimescu 20. Germishuys 21. Petri 22. Bennett 23. Pradere
Hanco Germishuys and Charlie Hewitt Ready for Debut
The two latest signings have made the roster for Atlanta and are expected to provide quite the impact. With versatile forward Alex MacDonald sidelined for the season, and second row Trevor Cassidy injured, the lack of depth was a cause for concern for both the fans and the coaches. Germishuys and Hewitt provide the team with four combined years of Major League Rugby experience. Hewitt starts in the second row and Hanco begins his RUNY career on the reserves bench.
Tale of Two Seasons
RUNY’s attack was one of the least threatening in the league in 2019. The Roosters only managed to grab the “four try bonus point” a handful of times. Last week against Austin, the club scored 49 points- the most in their young MLR history. It took them two weeks to score more than they did all of last season- so there should be optimism for RUNY fans looking to see attacking rugby.
HOWEVER, the defense has struggled at times. Letting up 30+ points in back to back matches is never ideal. Both Austin and the Free Jacks scored crazy, long distance tries that seemingly evolved from nothing. It proves that even just one lack of communication, or one play off, can alter the course of a game. Currently, the Roosters rank 9th in defense. Although they are only two games into the new season, and there is more than enough time to right the wrongs, they need to do it faster than later.
#9 Duncan van Schalkwyk
Dynamic scrum half for Rugby ATL. Scored one try this season. Has played 130 minutes over the course of the first two games. Combines with Kurt Coleman in the half backs.
#13 Troy Lockyear
The rookie earned his first cap last weekend against the team from Austin. He scored two tries, ran for over 150 meters, and earned MLR Player of the Week honors for his performance. He is lining up against the physical ATL center Sean Coughlan.
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