The first regular season game of Brooklyn’s inaugural season in the Metropolitan NY Rugby Union was played in the small upstate town of Saugerties, NY. The NY Americans based in New Paltz, NY, proved to be a well-rounded and respectable first test.
At kickoff, there were thick clouds and a light drizzle leading to a poor turnout attendance wise. A small collection of Baron’s faithful braved the conditions to support the Brooklyn based club. Unfortunately for the supporters the Barons were unable to reward their journey with champagne rugby during the first half of play.
The first half was littered with lowlights as missed tackles piled on, passes dropped and knocked-on (dropped forward), and repeated turnovers and penalties.. Two Barons that did play up to their standards were Park Slope’s Matt Loomis and Prospect Heights Brian Benito. Park Slope’s Justin Knight played above his already high standard by scoring 4 tries (think touchdowns).
Knight’s tries were a combination of individual effort, drive, quick thinking and also great teamwork. On his first try, Justin Knight scored from a quick pick and go from a ruck (10 meters). It was only fitting that one of the founding fathers, first president of Brooklyn Rugby RFC, and now captain, scored the first official try in Brooklyn Barons Rugby history. The Americans answered relatively quickly after the Barons knocked-on a kick inside of their 22-meter line. As the game progressed, both teams fought for field position and continuously put pressure on one another with booming kicks. This strategy paid off well for both teams, the ball was slick and many players mishandled the ball throughout the game. Justin Knight scored his second try on a nice up-and-under kick, in which he ripped the ball out of the air from an opposing player and rumbled in for the Barons. At halftime, the score stood 10-5.
At the start of the Second Half, Brooklyn Coach Mike “Kiwi” Haynes made the kind of adjustments one would expect from a coach displeased with is team’s performance. He brought on Forest Hills, Queens’ Matt Butler and re-jigged the rest of the backline as he moved guys to more effective positions. The results became apparent immediately as Knight scored his third try followed by a try for Outside Center Brian Benito. The NY Americans were not going quietly into the night however, as they managed to add one more to the score board. The Barons superior fitness proved to be the difference in the final 20 minutes of the game as they pulled away. A try by James Russo (Mahopac) and a conversion from Fly-Half Geoff Gordon put the game beyond reach. The icing on the cake was created by a wonderful hard-nosed run by Justin Knight, who unselfishly attempted to pass the ball to support. The ball bounced erratically, and Matt Loomis scooped it up for what would be the Brooklyn Barons final try. The game was sealed with a 37-12 final.
Following the A-Side game, Brooklyn’s B-Side Game was also dominated by the Barons. According to Coach Haynes “The B Side provided a warning shot to the A-Side about losing focus and underperforming with their display.” The B-side won 30 – 14, with their tries coming from various international members of their team. Australian Mike Bormann (Lower East Side) scored one, while Ukrainian Denys Azanov (Ozone Park) and Trinidadian Kempis McLean had two tries a piece, each exemplifying textbook rugby and outstanding breakaway speed. McLean’s second try displayed all the attributes required of a sound Wing-Back. Mclean picked up a knocked-on (dropped) pass from the opposition, chip-kicked the ball over the defender’s head, kicked the ball one more time towards the try zone and outraced the defenders to fall on the ball for the try. The final try of the B-Side game was a two-man weave allowing Denys Azanov to use his outstanding speed and quickness to easily break away from the defense.
Scoring Detail For Brooklyn:
Tries: J. Knight (4), B. Benito (1), J. Russo (1), M. Bormann (1) Conversion: G. Gordon (1/7)
Tries: M. Bormann (1), D. Azanov(2), K. Mclean (2).