Now that we’ve reached the half way stage of the 2015-2016 D2 season the league has developed into a 3 horse race with New Haven setting the pace leaving White Plains RFC and the Village Lions to fight it out for second and third. (The Village Lions have their nose in front by picking up two bonus point against New Haven RFC.)
The September 19th game versus Lions was a frustrating outing for White Plains with a tied result of 38 – 38. The boys had trained well in the week after the disappointment against New Haven and came out all guns blazing jumping into a 17 point lead.
The opening 15 minutes was near perfect and the lads looked set to cruise to an easy victory. Unfortunately instead of pushing on from there the following 60 minutes was a frustrating mix of complacency, over confidence and poor execution as we drifted in and out of the game. A lack of accuracy collecting restarts and at the break down allowed the Lions easy field position and a lack of intensity in defense allowed them to convert their dominance into points with alarming ease.
Both teams traded scores with the Lions forcing their way into the lead in the final 10 minutes, a long range penalty from Poukie Mannering tied the game and unfortunately another to win it fell just short.
There were some harsh words after this display as the performance was a step down from what the guys had produced in defeat the week before and was not what we wanted heading into a bye week.
Up next were local rivals Old Blue, the boys had trained well for 2 weeks including a monster session on the bye week Saturday as they took out their frustration from the missed opportunity against the Lions on each other at training.
This game showed the dedication of the team as they went out and played for 80 minutes with huge intensity and focus. The opening 30 minutes was tight with both teams exchanging penalties and White plains crossing for a couple of tries.
As the game played out, the WPRFC dedication to fitness this season took its toll on Old Blue as the boys played the game at a pace they couldn’t live with.
The set piece was particularly impressive with our defensive line out starving Old Blue of ball and our scrum marching them backwards in a powerful display.
But the most satisfying aspect of this 56-9 victory was our defense. It was relentless and committed for the whole game, even when victory was assured the guys kept their standards high.
Week 6 saw WPRFC host Long Island in a one sided and at times ill tempered match at Tibbets Park. Absolute dominance at both scrum and line out snuffed out any hope of victory Long Island had as the boys powered to a convincing yet frustrating 56-12 victory.
Our last outing was away at New York Rugby at Randalls Island who proved to be more competitive than their recent results suggested. White Plains struggled to find any rhythm in the opening quarter and New York jumped out to a 2 score lead before we woke up.
There was no panic over falling a couple of points behind as we clawed our way back into the game with a few penalties. The forwards tightened up their game and we started playing our rugby in the right areas of the field as we attacked with control and patience.
The real break through came in an unexpected, but very welcome form. Kevin Cutignola took a nice pass from Sam Kim, juggled the ball behind his back, broke the line and steamed in under the post.
From that point the game was never in doubt. We raised our intensity, played in the right areas of the field thanks to some superb tactical kicking and piled on the pressure as we emptied the bench. Despite the sluggish start this was a very satisfying 42-20 victory.
Last week was yet another bye week, but is worth mentioning because of how the boys spent their Saturday morning. Yet again we saw the dedication of this young squad as over 20 players came for a session at the Keio Academy. Things are definitely heading in the right direction with this ambitious group. Exciting times as we head into the second half of the season.