A full slate of matches is on tap this weekend as the American National Rugby League moves into business end of the 2011 season. A heatwave in the northeast will set the scene for some tense action that will be highlighted by a doubleheader in Philadelphia with the hometown Aston Bulls hosting the New York Knights and the Bucks County Sharks visiting the Delaware Vipers. The Knights (4-1) have moved five points clear of the second-placed Sharks at the top of the standings and will be looking to cement their spot when they tackle the Bulls (2-3), who are in fifth place. Since dropping their season opener to the Connecticut Wildcats, the New Yorkers have been perfect in gaining maximum points from every match and will be warm favorites going into Saturday’s contest. The likes of Xavier Lozinguez, Sean Taylor and Nigel Millgate have been dominant as head coach Guillaume Cieutat has his charges firing on all cylinders and executing his game plans to a tee.
The second game of the doubleheader will see the Sharks (3-3) looking to bounce back from their shock loss to the Bulls last week when they face off against the winless Vipers (0-4). Bucks County started the season with a bang, but lately they have dropped off the pace and with the AMNRL’s annual War at the Shore showpiece event just a week away, they will be wanting to rediscover their winning form.
In the other game of the round, the Northern Raiders (3-3) are away at the Wildcats (3-1) in Norwalk, CT, in what promises to be a very competitive encounter. After several seasons as the league’s cellar dwellers, the Raiders are currently enjoying their best run in years. They recruited well in the offseason and their Australian imports have been combining well with their homegrown talent including Paulo Reis and Tony Kalamas. The Cats, on the other hand, are having somewhat of a resurgence of their own this season meaning this one could go down to the wire.
Out west in the Pacific Conference, the action will continue after last weekends high performance camp and inter island challenge between Maui and Oahu which was evaluated by USA Tomahawks Head Coach Matthew Elliott. A number of dynamic new players such as Jayson Rego and Josh Rice (former University of Hawaii footballers) Apelu So'oalu (USA Eagles U/20), Uale Rae, Drake Miller, and Dustin Umeyda performed well along with USA Tomahawks representatives Vaka Manupuna, Mike Tuala, Pila Taufa, and Andrew Malafu.