Major League Rugby‘s last remaining undefeated team can make that claim no longer. Rugby United New York‘s perfect start to the season came to a halt on Sunday as the Seattle Seawolves came away 33-21 winners after a spirited contest at Starfire Stadium.
Both teams came out determined to make a statement and it was home side who were quickest off the blocks. Peter Tiberio broke clear from a set move on halfway and after a few phases in RUNY territory, Mat Turner picked a line between two defenders and offloaded to Eric Duechle for the first try.
New York were there to play and made their response in short order. An inside ball from Will Leonard put Ben Foden through a gap and the England international popped it back to his center partner for a smart seven-pointer.
The visitors took the lead from the scrum of all places. Seattle’s strength from last season looked shaky in the opening quarter and from a 5 meter put-in Ross Deacon picked left and had too much power to be stopped from short range.
Seattle hit back with two quick scores after a brief hydration break. After Turner and Tiberio combined to put New York on their heels the Seawolves won a kickable penalty but opted for the scrum. This time it was steady and after Riekert Hattingh took it on the forwards followed up until Stephan Coetzee drove in under the defense. Brock Staller hit the tricky conversion to draw the scores level.
Almost immediately after the restart Shalom Suniula put on a show. The captain picked up a loose pass from the deck and showed sensational footwork to step through the line and past the cover defense for a brilliant individual score. Again Staller was on target from the wide angle.
The Seawolves got one against the run of play just before the half ended. Foden nearly put Mark O’Keeffe over but was denied by a try-saving tackle from Turner. Seattle couldn’t quite clear and the New York stayed in the hunt. Leonard’s offload eluded his teammates and instead it was Staller who picked up the scraps with a clear run to the line from 80 meters.
Points proved more difficult to come by in the second half. Eventually it was Staller again who got the credit. Ben Cima found open space behind the New York defense and his right winger sped past the cover to dot it down. Staller’s conversion put New York three scores down with the clock their enemy.
There was enough left to score one more. Chris Mattina entered the line and put Derek Lipscomb free on the right side. Turner managed to close down the space but the offload found Mike Brown in support and the hooker just beat Duechle to the line. The final minutes would see RUNY attacking in search of the bonus point but the Seawolves held off their advances.
Seattle will enjoy their first bye week of the season next weekend before hosting the Houston SaberCatson March 10. New York will have the first crack at Houston as they face the Texans on Saturday at Constellation Field.
Tries – E. Duechle (7’), S. Coetzee (23’), S. Suniula (26’), B. Staller 2 (39’, 57’)
Cons – B. Staller 4/5 (8’, 24’, 27’, 58’)
NEW YORK 21
Tries – W. Leonard (11’), R. Deacon (18’), M. Brown (68’)
Cons – C. Marsh 3/3 (12’, 19’, 69’)
1 Olive Kilifi (18 John Hayden 55’), 2 Stephan Coetzee (16 Dan Trierweiler 77’), 3 Tim Metcher (17 Kellen Gordon 60’), 4 Apisai Naikatini (19 Taylor Krumrei 55’), 5 Brad Tucker, 6 Cam Polson (20 Aladdin Schirmer 51’), 7 Eric Duechle, 8 Riekert Hattingh, 9 Phil Mack (21 JP Smith 51’), 10 Ben Cima, 11 Peter Tiberio (23 Sequoyah Burke-Combs 60’), 12 Shalom Suniula (capt.), 13 George Barton (22 William Rasileka 70’), 14 Brock Staller, 15 Mat Turner
RUGBY UNITED NEW YORK
1 James Rochford (17 Anthony Parry 54’), 2 Mike Brown (16 Callum Mackintosh 70’), 3 Paddy Ryan (18 Kirk Hamilton 70’), 4 Alex MacDonald, 5 Trevor Cassidy (19 Myles McQuone 70’), 6 Kyle Sumsion, 7 James Denise (20 Matt Hughston 54’), 8 Ross Deacon, 9 Mike Petri (capt.) (21 Marcus Walsh 70’), 10 Cathal Marsh, 11 Connor Wallace-Sims (23 Derek Lipscomb 55’), 12 Will Leonard, 13 Ben Foden, 14 Mark O’Keeffe (22 Gavan D’Amore-Morrison 65’), 15 Chris Mattina