On a very hot day in New York, NYAC punched their ticket to the 2012 Rugby Super League Championship game, defeating Life University 38-12.
Life had the first opportunity of the day, turning down a possible kickable penalty for a kick to the corner, but the resulting lineout was botched. Life made amends soon after, getting on the board with an Aaron McMaster penalty. NYAC claimed the restart and quickly attacked the Life line, but the final pass did not come off and Life managed to clear, but only as far as the ’22. NYAC takes the lineout, and in a pattern that would be repeated several times throughout the afternoon to great effect, the NYAC forwards pounded away for several phases and crossed for the first try of the game. Alan MacGinty made the difficult conversion for a 7-3 lead, midway through the first half. Five minutes later NYAC takes advantage of a Life turnover in the NYAC half, bringing the ball all the way back for NYAC’s second try, scored by center Toby L’Estrange. MacGinty again converts.
Life pulls back a couple of three pointers by McMaster, as Life is forcing penalties and free kicks at the set-pieces. The second penalty also earned ten minutes in the sin bin for NYAC flanker Neil McMillan for the team infractions. Life makes some promising breaks, notably by Brendan Thomson and Tui Osborne, but the NYAC defense holds. Despite being down a man, NYAC again rolls off a series of pick and go moves, with the pack gaining big chunks of ground and scoring another forwards try. MacGinty hits another difficult conversion for a 21-9 halftime lead.
The second half resembled the first in many ways, with NYAC playing mistake free rugby, maintaining possession and starving Life of many scoring opportunities. When Life did make breaks, such as ones by Benny Mateialona and Alfred Qaranivalu, NYAC was able to recover and snuff out the threat. Life did score first in the second half, another penalty by McMaster, but NYAC replied with another forwards oriented try to stretch the lead to 28-12. Twenty five minutes in, second row Brian Doyle rumbled down the touchline to score a try in the corner. Doyle joined his fellow forwards James Denise and Neil McMillan on the try scorer sheet. NYAC would add another try as the game wound down to leave the final score at 38-12.
Life’s James Isaacson said of NYAC “they kept the ball and we didn’t, and they did their job and made us defend for 60-70 minutes and with those weather conditions you are not going to win any game on the planet if you have to defend that long. The main positive we can take from it is that we managed to defend decently for 50 minutes then we collapsed and the points started coming in. We had decent resistance but they got through us in multiple phases to score, and full credit to them for pressuring us and that’s the hallmark of a good side”.
NYAC’s Lou Stanfill said the conditions made it tough on both sides “there were a couple of lulls in the game, but between the lulls there was some good rugby played. We played some good defense, we didn’t let a try in…but we still killed ourselves with penalties, but we reacted much better in getting back ten and the maturity is coming into it more.” Teammate Mike Petri added that he is “happy with the win and looking forward to next week”.
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