PREVIEW: RUNY v NOLA
How does the old proverb go? “Good things come to those who wait?” Well I don’t know about you my fellow roosters but I could not wait any longer and luckily, we don’t have to.
After two long bye weeks for the boys in blue and orange, RUNY is once again ready to take the field for the “Battle in the Bayou.” This Saturday February 16th at 3PM EST, RUNY will take on the table topping NOLA Gold down in New Orleans. The game will be live on air on SNY, ESPN+, and Facebook Live for our International fans. For the first time, our Roosters in the nation’s capital will be able to watch on NBC Sports Washington, airing Sunday night at 9 PM EST.
The Gold come into this game with victories over the Toronto Arrows (35 – 31), the Glendale Raptors (40 – 31) and reigning champs Seattle Seawolves (41 – 31) and are currently topping the table with 3 bonus point victories. The Gold have also repeatedly featured in the MLR’s ‘First XV of the Week’ with 3 players in both the first and second round, and an impressive 4 in the third round. With such a high powered offense, averaging 39 points a game, Gold Stadium has become a fortress for NOLA who have also mysteriously held all three opponents to exactly 31 points. In their fourth straight home game, the Gold now look to protect the Bayou against our Roosters who aim to break the magic that hangs over Gold Stadium.
RUNY, in their opening game against the San Diego Legion, pulled out a hard fought 25 – 23 victory. Legion went on to win their next two games, and now sit second in the points in the league table. Despite the tight score line, Coach Tolkin had a lot of positives to take from the debut, namely a selfless performance from a side filled with players who have never shared a uniform. Furthermore, the two week rest gives the boys plenty of time to correct mistakes, improve fitness, and cohesiveness now that they have shed their first game jitters.
YOUR RUNY TEAM:
RUNY will be making only one change to the starting XV that won their opening match with Matt Hughston filling in at Open Side Flanker in place of John Quill, who is on rest after returning from national side duties. Hughston was capped against San Diego after playing off the bench. Replacing Hughston on the bench will be Matt Wirken, a former NOLA Gold standout. The only other change to the bench will see Irish prodigy Mark O’Keeffe don the blue and orange in place of Seimou Smith.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
After a monster first game, RUNY is selecting Lock Nate Brakeley as one to keep your eye on. Nate was the Roosters’ main target in the line out our first game, winning five balls and even picking up a steal. He was also RUNY’s anchor on defense, leading the Roosters with 14 tackles. On both sides of the ball Brakeley was physical and willing to go into the trenches when the team needed to apply the pressure. The Gold, who are 26/28 on their line outs and 20/22 on scrums throughout their first three games have been dominant in their set piece play. It is Coach Mike Tolkin’s hope that Mount Brakeley and the rest of the RUNY forwards prove too much of a challenge for the Gold to climb.
It is in the backline where the Gold have earned their number 1 offense ranking in the MLR, with 12/15 of their tries coming through the backline. Their dual pairing of Taylor Howden and Tristan Blewett have poured in 3 tries a piece, both earning MLR team honors. However cleaning up the backfield for the Roosters is our own MLR honoree and USA (bald) Eagle Luke Hume. ‘The Humean Highlight Reel’ put on a show against San Diego finishing the game with the most meters with ball in hand and proved to be RUNY’s architect setting up both of their tries. With the likes of Foden, Marsh and Leonard in front of him, who all put on a defensive masterclass, finishing with 12 tackles each, Hume and the Roosters look to grind the Gold’s offense to a stop and put the pressure back on them in this week’s upcoming ‘Battle of the Bayou.’
We hope to see you down at the ‘Pig n Whistle’ on 36th street this Saturday for our NOLA watch party, which will include giveaways, merchandise sales, and a chance to meet some of the RUNY squad. PACK THE PIG.
However if you are unable to make it be sure to tune in LIVE for an unmissable game between two unbeaten teams on SNY, ESPN+, or Facebook Live.
Rugby United New York Roster:
James Rochford, Dylan Fawsitt, Paddy Ryan, Nate Brakeley, Trevor Cassidy, Kyle Sumsion, Matt Hughston, Ross Deacon; Mike Petri (C), Cathal Marsh, Connor Wallace-Sims, Will Leonard, Ben Foden, Chris Mattina, Luke Hume
Mike Brown, Anthony Parry, Kirk Hamilton, Matt Wirken, Alex MacDonald, Marcus Walsh, Mark O’Keeffe, Derek Lipscomb
New merch alert! Limited Edition Rugby United New York Basketball Jersey. $80