In what was a beautiful afternoon for rugby, this was playoff jostling clash between 2nd place NOLA Gold and 4th place RUNY. NOLA started off the game dominating both possession and territory. This dominance paid dividends on the 6th minute when Cam Dolan crossed over the line following multiple pick and drives for a well controlled NOLA forward’s try. JP Eloff added the easy conversion to give NOLA the ideal start to the game within the opening 10 minutes.
RUNY did start stringing some more moves together after the initial NOLA Gold onslaught with Cathal Marsh beginning to ask questions of the NOLA defence. This momentum however was quashed when RUNY got pinged for not rolling away. NOLA were on the attack again and forced a penalty on the 11th minute to leave the Gold 10 nil up.
RUNY were not backing down from the challenge and collected the kick off from the restart and forced immediate pressure on the NOLA defence. This pressure culminated in a series of pick and drives (which would be the theme of the afternoon for the RUNY attack) before finally crashing over the white wash for what they thought was their opening try only for the referee to signal that they were held up.
On the 16th minute, RUNY finally got their just reward with a penalty try from a scrum pretty much underneath the posts. Whilst RUNY were beginning to come into the game more and more and were starting to dominate possession, NOLA delivered a stinging blow on the 21st minute when Tim Maupin broke through a gap in the RUNY defensive line to sprint in under the posts and dot down. Whilst there were initial question marks over the NOLA players crossing, the try stood and NOLA regained their 10 point lead at 17-7.
In what was a nip and tuck first half, RUNY responded six minutes later through Matt Hughston who picked and drove over the goal line to touch down for RUNY and make the score 17-14 to the Gold.
Tristan Blewett was yellow carded on the 34th minute and spent 10 minutes in the sinbin for an illegal tackle off the ball which could easily have been a red card.
With NOLA being a player short of their full compliment , there was pressure on RUNY to capitalise by getting points on the board and like all good sides they did just that. On the 36th minute Dylan Fawsitt who has arguably been RUNY’s player of the season so far stepped up and drove over following a well controlled maul. Marsh slotted over a difficult conversion to give RUNY the lead 21-17 going into half time.
The second half had a slower pace to the first half with both sides perhaps sensing the magnitude of the next 40 minutes. The opening 15 minutes of the half saw RUNY slowly tightening their grip on the game and did show how proficient they are at game management but all their dominance was turned on it’s head when NOLA Gold once again struck on the counter attack.
Cam Dolan who had a terrific game at number 8 initially broke through a gap to set up the NOLA attack. This led to multiple moves through the backs and eventually Nick Feakes scored in the corner giving NOLA a one point lead at 21-22 to set up a thrilling 25 minutes.
One imagines both teams had the bonus point in their minds going into the final quarter of the game however RUNY showed great maturity on the 62nd minute when awarded a penalty by opting to go for the posts rather than the line. Cathal Marsh duly slotted the penalty and this game RUNY the lead 24-22 with 18 minutes to play.
RUNY were pushing for that elusive 4th try to secure a bonus point and they thought they had achieved that on the 70th minute with yet another pick and drive which saw them crash over the line, only for the referee to deem it to be held up.
The game finished 24-22 to RUNY with RUNY moving to 2nd place in the standings and NOLA Gold moving to 4th place.
Cam Dolan – NOLA Gold
Penalty Try – RUNY
Tim Maupin – NOLA Gold
Matt Hughston – RUNY
Dylan Fawsitt – RUNY
Nick Feakes – NOLA Gold