Written by Joe Harvey
The New England Free Jacks crowned themselves Eastern Conference champions thanks to their dominant victory over Old Glory DC on Saturday evening.
Beating their rivals 25-7 at Veterans Memorial Stadium, Scott Mathie’s team has secured a place in the Championship Final in Chicago on July 8.
NEW ENGLAND FREE JACKS 25–7 OLD GLORY DC
In his first game since a Week 18 Player of the Week performance, New England’s Le Roux Malan picked up exactly where he left off.
Receiving the ball from Jayson Potroz in the fifth minute, the Namibia international planted a hand on the chest of Doug Fraser to score beneath the posts.
To extend the home team’s lead further, Andrew Quattrin benefitted from a strong set-piece to rumble across at the back of a maul, while Potroz’s penalty shortly after the restart compounded DC’s slow start.
There were shoots of life for the visiting team. A concentrated period of pressure from Old Glory saw New England penned deep within their own 22m, although lapses in execution largely meant that Josh Syms’ team did not take advantage of their dominance.
Withstanding such constant pressure was surely a confidence boost for Scott Mathie’s Free Jacks. Gradually pushing Old Glory back towards their own try line, DC infringed at the breakdown, giving Potroz a straightforward shot at goal with the clock at the red.
Coming out after half-time, the objectives for both sides were clear. Old Glory had to make momentum go their way and execute where it mattered, while New England aimed to play with the confidence they began with.
Quickly it was the home side in front of their ravenous support that seemed to be on the front foot.
Spending plenty of time in the DC’s 22m, Potroz could not reach across the try line in contact, while it took a last-ditch Junior Sa’u tackle on Taniela Filimone to prevent New England from pulling further clear.
It was almost inevitable when the Free Jacks finally crossed the whitewash. It came largely as a result of an Old Glory mistake.
Kurt Baker knocked on the ball on halfway; Mills Sanerivi found Joe Jonstone, who in turn passed the ball onto John Poland.
The scrum-half would offload to Ben LeSage, the center kicking the ball into space for Filimone to dot down.
With less than 10 minutes left to play, Thretton Palamo would gain a score for his team after gathering a Tito Bonilla cross-field kick and weathering a Reece MacDonald tackle attempt.
Each side would have felt they squandered opportunities before the final whistle. New England knocked on after the conclusion of a brilliant passage of play.
With the game won, New England will play in their first Championship Final, where they will face either the Seattle Seawolves or the San Diego Legion.
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