Round two of the 2011 AMNRL season illustrated just how close the competition is this year; both the losing teams from last weekend turned it around to record victories for the first time this season.
The Northern Raiders opened their account this season with a 36-24 win over the Aston Bulls. The Raiders gained the early advantage and went into the half-time break at 16-8. Some creativity in the middle between Raiders co-captains Dan Fullarton and Matt Vautin kept the Bulls on their toes, while the Bulls’ Danny Seape showed some spark and exposed the Raiders defense at times. However, it was the Raiders’ solid defense led by Paolo Reis that prevailed for the Raiders; Reis topped the tackle count finishing with nearly 20 tackles. Tomahawks prospective, Leslie Alovili did his chances for national selection no harm by making plenty of yards up the middle, playing second row for the Raiders. Raiders captain Joel Venables finished the day with four conversions and said the stand out performers were prop Rob Ploth and fullback Vautin, the pair earned MVP honors for the day. Venables said the team’s performance was a big improvement and was relieved that his team was able to make up for last week’s loss against the Sharks. “It was definitely an advantage playing at home… and the Aussies are really inspiring, it has really made the whole American group get more excited about the team,” Venables said. The Australian influence coupled with a new home ground at Rockland Lake State Park has invigorated the Raiders and it seems to be showing on the pitch.
The New York Knights sought revenge against the Connecticut Wildcats after a heartbreaking, last-minute loss last weekend. The Knights beat Connecticut 32-12 in a match much different to their previous encounter. New York Knight, Regan Hyde proved a handful for the Wildcats early on, grabbing two tries in the first half. Wildcat stand-out, Pete Mannion kept the scores close, as the team hit the sheds with the score at 10-6. The Knights had some key players back on deck, hooker Luke Hume made a huge difference around the ruck and crossed the try-line in the second half. The Knights managed to pile on the points throughout the whole second stanza, scoring four tries to one and running away with the victory. The game was played at a well-known rugby union stronghold at the New York Military Academy during an organized rugby tournament. Cats captain Curtis Cunz said it was a great opportunity to showcase the game of Rugby League to a captive audience. “They stopped all the games and everyone was able to have their eyes on us specifically…it helped us with recruiting and it put the game of rugby league in all the guys’ heads in the tri-state area,” Cunz said.
The final match of the round will be played on Monday night between the Delaware Vipers and the Bucks County Sharks at Shark Park, Levittown, PA. Kickoff is at 7:30pm ET.