Late Comeback Falls Short Against Seattle 21-29

By: Rachel Maccarrone

QUINCY- The New England Free Jacks were back home this weekend in Quincy, MA after a win against the Houston SaberCats. Entertaining a virtual full house it was a great day for rugby as The Free Jacks battled tough competition, the Western Conference-leading Seattle Seawolves. 

“Seattle are leading for a reason and lethal once they get going in attack. It’s going to be vital that we sustain pressure and physicality at home for 80 minutes to prove that Fort Quincy is a very challenging place to play,” stated head coach Scott Mathie before the match.

The Free Jacks showed their competitive fire in the match, although the Seawolves won, 29-21 in the battle for the 2024 Coffee Cup. The Free Jacks have taken home the cup, which celebrates the Starbucks-Dunkin heritage of the two cities, in three out of four previous meetings. The Seawolves had never beaten the Free Jacks in Quincy. 

Before the match, the Free Jacks celebrated both Kyle “The Eagle” Ciquera’s 50th cap for the club and Paula Balekana’s 50th Major League Rugby (MLR) appearance.

Going into Round 8 of the season, Seattle started off strong with a penalty kick from Flyback Mack Mason. A yellow card was handed to Seattle 20 minutes into the first half. Taking advantage, Free Jacks Wayne van der Bank made a try. Jayson Potroz added the conversion giving the Free Jacks their first lead at 7-3.

Using another penalty kick from Seattle, Mason made the score 7-6. Another Mason kick minutes later gave Seattle a 9-7 lead. Going into the break, both teams alternated possession, but Seattle’s Dan Kriel gained a clear path on the outside and made a mad dash for a try and 14-7 Seattle halftime lead. 

After halftime, the match got physical fast leading to Free Jacks Andrew Quattrin, Kyle Ciquera, Cole Keith, and Piers von Dadelszen subbing out for medical treatment. 

Ten minutes into the second half, Seattle’s Kara Pryor added a try (conversion failed) upping the visitor’s lead to 19-7. Following the play, Seawolves Captain Riekert Hattingh sprinted down the touchline for a try. Mason added the kick for a 26-7 advantage. 

With twenty minutes left, the Free Jacks earned a penalty try and an automatic seven points pulling them within 26-14. Mason answered with another kick for Seattle making the score 29-14. In response, the Free Jacks Kaleb Geiger scored his first-ever try, with Potroz making a conversion which made the final score 29-21 Seawolves. 

“We have been chugging really well, but I am disappointed with today’s result,” said returning Captain Mitch Jacobson. “We are pushing for that late final, but we are going to take it week by week and continue moving straight.”

The defending Major League Rugby champions remain in first place in the Eastern Conference with a 5-2 record and 24 points. The Free Jacks play next Sunday, when they visit Rugby FC Los Angeles at 6:15 p.m. E.T. The match will air on NBC Sports Boston.

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