Free jacks Advance to MLR Championship Match in Chicago!
QUINCY, MA — The New England Free Jacks will play for the first Major League Rugby title in franchise history this upcoming weekend after they won their 11th match in a row in the MLR semifinals with a 25-7 triumph against Old Glory DC at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
New England improved to 15-2 on the season and 23-2 at Veterans Stadium over the past three years.
This was the first Free Jacks playoff victory in franchise history – having lost to Rugby New York in last year’s semifinals.
The Free Jacks took an 18-0 lead into the half and then delivered the crushing blow off a turnover in the 64th minute when Irish scrum half John Poland found Canadian center Ben Lesage, who booted the ball forward inside the 10-meter line where Tonga wing Taniela Filimone gathered the ball and went in for the backbreaking try.
Old Glory DC broke up the shutout in the 72nd minute when Joaquin Diaz-Bonilla deftly booted the ball to Thretton Palamo, who spun past New England’s Reece MacDonald for the try to make it 25-7.
But New England’s Mitchell Jacobson – who led a dominant defense throughout the match – came up with a steal in the 77th minute to turn away Old Glory DC’s last-gasp attempt to extend its season.
New England will face the winner of Sunday night’s game between Seattle and San Diego for the Major League Rugby championship on July 8 at 3 p.m. in Chicago.
South African center Le Roux Malan put the Free Jacks up early when he took a pass from 5 meters out and barreled in between the posts for a 7-point try in the 4th minute.
After New England had a second try disallowed due to a forward pass, it came right back and scored in the 12th minute when Canadian hooker Andrew Quattrin powered his way in for 5 points out of a 5-meter lineout.
New Zealand fly-half Jayson Potroz, who led Major League Rugby with 128 points in the regular season, delivered a kick in the 18th minute and one right before halftime to make it a 18-0 Free Jacks lead at the break.
Saturday’s game was played in front of a sellout crowd at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy.