RUNY FINISH IN HOLLYWOOD FASHION IN HOME OPENER
And as the last player left the field and the last Rooster Booster exited the gates of MCU Park the rain that had been forecast the entire week finally came pouring down. It had held off long enough so that those RUNY fans who came to witness history could do so dry. The universe’s way of saying, “I support professional rugby in the Big Apple,” was a Hollywood finish followed by a downpour the second the Blue and Orange entered their changing rooms victorious in their first home game.
The 3000 fans that came down to MCU Park for the Roosters homecoming had to wait until the dying seconds of the game for the sensation of victory. Down by a scoreline of 17-21 the Toronto Arrows had put on a vicious defensive show against the RUNY onslaught for 5 minutes and the dreaded thought of “they just might hold us out” began to cross more than a few minds. However, MCU Park began to shake for the entirety of the final 3-4 minutes of the game to the tune of every fan in the stadium screaming their head off to help push the Roosters over the line. At their backs the RUNY ball carriers went into every hit up knowing they had 3000 fans prepared to drive over the ruck and protect the ball. With a mere 30 seconds left on the clock our fandom was rewarded as John Quill barrelled over the line for the go ahead points, with Mattina slotting the conversion to throw us ahead on the scoreboard at whistles end. RUNY 24 – Toronto 21.
The closeness of the scoreline reflected the quality of opposition and play. The two new MLR franchises putting on an absolute show with a hard nosed Toronto squad putting in a number of big hits on defense coupled with a similarly physical offensive approach. They also played the smart game, putting a number of penalties early onto the tee for 3 points which helped them keep the Roosters on the wrong side of the scoreline for a large portion of the match despite our boys outscoring the Arrows 3 tries to 2 before Quill sealed it with our fourth.
The first half ended 12-11 to RUNY with The Butcher scoring both our opening tries and Mattina making one missing one from the tee. The likes of Ben Foden, Mark O’Keeffe, Will Leonard and late addition to the starting line up at wing, Luke Hume, had great plays on the counterattack to get us into the Arrows 22 but once there Coach Mike Tolkin turned to his forwards to get us on the board.
Throughout the game RUNY opted for a much different approach to Toronto, kicking for touch whilst Toronto kicked for the posts on penalties. Off those lineouts RUNY trusted their forwards to maul it over and did so a number of times with Ross Deacon and Fawsitt getting held up in goal on a couple of occasions, much to the dismay of the crowd in attendance. However on four of RUNY’s drives, including the last one, the forwards were able to punch it in. On top of Fawsitt’s two, it was Butcher’s fellow USA Eagles John Quill and Nate Brakeley who crashed the ball over the line for the 5 pointers. Mattina, who moved to Flyhalf early in the game for the aching Cathal Marsh, was able to make 2 of 4 on his conversions but played a great game at first receiver.
Toronto with their 3 penalties were able to add 2 tries one converted, one not, that allowed for them to enter the final 10 minutes with a 21-12 lead. However RUNY had the fight in them that helped us claw back in a physical game. Toronto’s forwards put in a number of big hits that pushed RUNY back a few meters but the tone setting on our end was done by Trevor Cassidy who was a man on a mission with 25 tackles, leading all players on the day, followed by Will Leonard who went a perfect 19/19 on the night and The Butcher who put in 18. The tight physical game warranted a few ice packs after the game but to know that all the hard hitting work paid off on the scoreboard and for the fans definitely made the aching bodies worth it the next day.
Ben Foden: 125 carry meters on 5 attempts with 1 line break
Trevor Cassidy: 25 tackles made only one miss
Dylan Fawsitt: 68 carry meters, 2 tries, 18 tackles
Dylan Fawsitt 2 tries
Nate Brakeley 1 try
John Quill 1 try
Chris Mattina 2 conversions
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