Championship week of the 2012 Rugby Super League is finally here, and squaring off for the title are New York Athletic Club (NYAC) and Old Puget Sound Beach (OPSB).
New York Athletic Club (NYAC) at Old Puget Sound Beach
7400 Sandpoint Way
Seattle, WA, Saturday
June 2nd, 3pm Pacific.
Curtain raiser games will include Washington v Oregon U-17’s and U-19’s, starting at noon.
Seattle will host the 2012 Rugby Super League Championship game in Magnuson Park on Saturday June 2nd. Old Puget Sound Beach earned the right to host the game after going through an undefeated season in the West, scoring 357 points and conceding 102 in the regular season.
OPSB then followed that with a comprehensive 39-6 win over 2011 Champions San Francisco Golden Gate to reach the final for their first time in the sixteen year history of the RSL.
New York Athletic Club had a similar undefeated run through the East conference, scoring 337 and conceding 121 points, before knocking off perennial contender Life University by a score of 38-12 in their semi-final. NYAC is no stranger to the Championship, having lifted the trophy in 2010, 2008 and 2005.
Both teams were early favorites to make title game and they did not disappoint. The 2012 season did not have any cross conference game, making any direct comparison difficult, but at a glance the teams seem to be evenly matched. Both sides have effective front rows that will do the heavy work in the scrums and around the field, and in the second rows, the likely pairings of Albert Jenkins and Aaron Fry for OPSB against Brian Doyle and James Denise for NYAC will be closely watched.
Similarly, the expected battle between the home back row of Kellen Gordon, Andrew Durutalo and Matt Trouville, against the high performing Lou Stanfill, Neil McMillan and Alastair McFarland of NYAC will likely be crucial in securing posession.
Scrumhalf watchers will eagerly await the battle between USA Eagles scrumhalf Mike Petri will be wearing the NYAC colors, while Fijian international Emosi Vucago will line up opposite him. Vucago has been on a tear for OPSB in this, his first year in the RSL, while Petri, who needs no introduction, has been his usual high performing self for NYAC.
Steve Evans for NYAC and Russell Armstrong for OPSB have hardly put a foot wrong all year in the out-half position. Further wide, OPSB has been able to score from anywhere on the field, with Filimoni Botitu, Miles Craigwell and Mike Palefau among the fireworks providers. NYAC are no slouches in the try scoring department, Alan MacGinty and Chris Chapman being prominent throughout the year. Both defenses will have to be vigilant to slow down the offensive threats.
Some intangibles come into play this week also. The USA Eagles has a training camp this week at West Point as the team prepares for the June Test Match series against Canada, Georgia and Italy. Six players – Brian Doyle, Lou Stanfill, Mike Petri and Toby L’Estrange from NYAC and Andrew Durutalo and Alipatee Tuilevuka from OPSB are selected to attend the camp. They will be released June 1st so they will be available for the RSL championship game. The rigors of the camp add to what already was a physically demanding week for the participants.
All the action kicks off at 11.30, with representative sides from Oregon and Washington U-17’s and U-19’s providing the entertainment, showcasing the upcoming generation of rugby players in the Northwest.
The U-17’s start at 11.30 and the U-19’s at 12.45.
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