NYAC victorious in Elite Cup opener

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Under clear blue skies, but with a northerly wind that created wind chills in the 20s, New York Athletic Club bested host Old Blue 29-14 in the opening East Pool match of the inaugural Elite Cup competition. The guests scored five tries, earning the bonus point, in a match where they traded tries for OB penalties on the scoreboard, and never trailed.

NYAC received the kickoff to start the match, and it took just three minutes, a series of Old Blue penalties and a half dozen phases for a patient Dan Grace to punch it over the line just left of the posts for NYAC. The easy conversion was missed for a 0-5 lead. Old Blue replied at nine minutes, with a 20-meter penalty kick by Adam Siddall after a NYAC player was pinged of leaving his feet in the ruck. NYAC still held the lead at 3-5.

When an Old Blue 22-meter dropout was blocked, the clearing pass from the ensuing ruck was knocked on, giving NYAC a set at the five. Toby L’Estrange then took the set piece possession and slanted to center posts to dot down at 27 minutes, which was converted for an extended 3-12 lead. At 31 minutes, referee Marc Nelson had seen enough and flashed a yellow to NYAC’s McFarland for repeated infringements at the breakdown. Old Blue, with the man advantage and the wind at their backs, spent the remainder of the half pounding at the goal, but came away with no points.

As the conclusion of the third quarter of the match neared, Old Blue’s attacking pressure caught NYAC offside. Siddall was true on a penalty kick into the wind from 35 at 55 minutes to close the gap, bringing the score to 6-12. NYAC promptly answered with a try by Flanker Neil McMillan. After the deep restart, Old Blue was penalized on their own put in on a five-meter set. NYAC ran a penalty play, and in two phases drove over for the try at 59 minutes, near the right corner. The kick failed for a 6-17 scoreline.

NYAC took the kickoff deep into the Old Blue end, but spilled the ball. The Old Blue cleanly won the set 20 out dead center, but the outlet pass was misplayed to a knock-on at the five. Again, the guests took full advantage of their opponent's mistakes and took two quick rucks in for the bonus try scored by Justin Hundley,

Hundley’s try was NYAC’s third off of unforced Old Blue errors in front of their own goal line. The conversion missed and NYAC suddenly had a three-score edge at 61 minutes, 6-22. Old Blue and Siddall again opted for the posts when NYAC again infringed at the breakdown right in front at the 15, and drew within 9-22 with ten to play. They then spun the ball wide from the restart and broke up the sideline, with the backs nicely offloading twice inside before being hauled down two meters short beneath the uprights.

A quickly recycled ball wide right found hooker Will Brazier, who raced in for a much needed try. But when the kick missed left, Old Blue was still down eight at 77 minutes, 14-22. They took the restart into the centers and a line break destined for a long try was halted for a forward pass. Old Blue turned over NYAC’s possession, and with time expired, put a pass wide, where NYAC’s Hundley stepped into the passing lane for a 25-meter stroll to center posts unopposed to pad the score. The conversion was good to bring the score to 14-29.

New York Athletic Club 29
Tries: Grace, L’Estrange, C, McMillan, Hundley 2
Convs: Hundley

Old Blue 14
Tries: Brazier
Pens: Siddall 3