Wildcats Claw Sharks
Sea Isle City, NJ was sweltering in the summer heat, and the on field Rugby League action was just as hot, in the final round of the American National Rugby League's Atlantic Conference.
The Connecticut Wildcats secured home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs with a crucial 42-22 win over the Bucks County Sharks.
The Sharks started the match strongly when Zac Padgett laid on the first try for Ryan Sadano after a nice break up the middle. The early four point lead didn’t last long with the Wildcats responding through a long range try to Fullback Gareth Gibbs. The conversion was successful and the Wildcats took a 6-4 lead.
Gibbs’ try seemed to spark the Wildcats attack and shortly after five eighth Michael Goward notched his first four pointer of the match. The crafty playmaker created headaches for the Sharks defense, scoring two tries in a fine outing.
Zac Padgett was involved in the next try for the Sharks once again, crossing the white line to bring the deficit to 4. The conversion was unsuccessful and the Wildcats lead 12-8.
A short kickoff by the Sharks in the second half proved costly when Gibbs pounced and scored his second long range try of the day. The momentum continued early in the second stanza and a 30-8 lead looked as though the match was sealed for the Wildcats, before the Sharks started their resurgence. The run was left a little late with the Wildcats finishing the match the strongest.
Wildcats coach Curtis Cunz was impressed with his sides’ performance and attributed the win to his team’s ability to fix their mistakes. As he told WeAreRugby “ We started the match slow but I told the boys at halftime to forget about the first half and play our game in the second half. “
In other matches the Northern Raiders were defeated by the PA Bulls 56-26 and the New York Knights ended the season for the Northern Virginia Eagles with a 54-0 victory.
The first round of the playoffs will see the Bulls take on the Raiders while the Wildcats will look to replicate their performance in a matchup against the Sharks.