With only three rounds to go, just two points separate first position from fourth in the Atlantic Conference standings of the AMNRL. Both the Raiders and Wildcats grabbed bonus point wins in the doubleheader at Brian McMahon Stadium in Connecticut over the Delaware Vipers and Aston Bulls, respectively. However, the game of the round was at Pier 40, Manhattan, where the New York Knights battled it out with the Bucks County Sharks for top spot. In what may prove a warning sign to the rest of the competition, the Knights brutally demolished the Sharks, 64-4, picking up the bonus point in a canter. The Knights drew blood early with captain, Xavier Lozinguez penetrating the Sharks line in just the third set of the game, diving over for the try. Shortly after, some fancy footwork close to the line resulted in Knights five-eighth, Andrew Moody adding to the early lead. The Sharks often showed valor in attack and weren’t afraid to throw the ball around, but their first and only points came from dummy half close to the line. Despite poor ball handling at times, the Knights owned the first half as halfback Nigel Millgate took charge and set up a handful of tries, seeing the Knights in command 26-4 at the break. From the first whistle of the second half the Knights took complete control as the Sharks’ concentration slipped. They piled on the points throughout the second forty. Under the guidance of playmaker Millgate, the running game of second rower Regan Hyde and speed of fullback Fitzjames Adams proved destructive. Knights’ coach, Guillaume Cieutat was full of praise for the pairing of hooker CJ Cortalano and halfback Millgate saying their direction and timing throughout the game was key to their success. After the domination of their closest rival in the standings, the Knights have every reason to be confident for the business end of the season, but Cieutat said his job is to keep his players focused. “Complacency has never been a good friend of performance and what we can control is our performance so we will just take it on a weekly basis.”
The doubleheader in Connecticut kicked off with the Wildcats leading early against the Aston Bulls. Charlie Rizzo crossed the line within the first five minutes and by the 25 minute mark, the Wildcats were winning 22-0. Barely keeping themselves in the game, the Bulls scored before halftime, making it 26-4 going into the break. A solid defensive performance by the Wildcats kept the pressure on throughout the game as they strolled to a 48-4 win. Keeping consistent with the other two results, the Northern Raiders didn’t have too much trouble against a developing Delaware Vipers outfit. The first half was all the Raiders. With attacking weapons Dan Fullarton and Matt Vautin, the Raiders stacked up 32 points before the 40 minute mark. Chief playmaker Fullarton gave praise to the Raiders’ consistent performers in Paulo Reis and Leslie Alovili, while giving special mention to Tony Kalamas. “Tony really stepped up to lead us on defense. He’s an ex-football star and was the Raiders captain in 2009. We’re glad to see him back at full form,” Fullarton said. The second half was a different story as the Vipers tightened up their defense and showed some creativity of their own. Scoring two tries, they managed to claim a second half victory of 10-8 as consolation. It was the Raiders that had the last say though, with Robert Ploth’s 40 yard dash resulting in the final nail in the Vipers’ coffin. The final score: 40-10 Raiders. Raiders’ player/coach, Joel Venables expressed that the Raiders have a few injury problems to overcome before competing at full strength, "We had the return of Dan Fullarton but lost Tristan Gralton from New South Wales at practice this week to an ankle injury. Tristan had been playing well for us and we hope to have him and injured Italian international Dan Sansone back in upcoming weeks,” Venables said.
Meantime, the Pacific Conference consisted of a round robin for its second weekend of competition this season. The Marist Marauders played two games, the first of which was against the TS Islanders. The pure talent on show in Hawaii was a spectacle in itself, and as the crowd enjoyed big hits and plenty of tries it was the Marauders who proved the better outfit, winning 26-8. Marist then backed it up with a 10-0 win over the Kalihi Raiders. Head AMNRL officer in Hawaii, Jack Breen said it was another successful day of rugby league in paradise and that the Marist Marauders are really something special, “Marist are the real deal, they have a pair of guys who were over 300 pounds and they were just pummeling up the middle the whole day… it often took four guys to take them down,” Breen said. The pair he is talking about is Uale Rea and Dan Asual. These two towers paired with speedsters Drake Miller, Islander Jason Rego and a host of natural talent on the pitch (including some players as young as 15). It is exciting times for Rugby League in Hawaii.