NYAC defeated Life 39-21 Saturday to clinch first place in the Eastern conference.
Life is now assured of second place in the conference, which will advance them into the four-team playoff in which they will face off with NYAC for the third time this season while looking for their first win against them.
After the contest, inside center and kicker Aaron McMaster gave credit to NYAC and the way they battled, but he already had his mind set on the rematch.
“They made the most of their chances,” noted McMaster. “Hopefully the next time we get another go at them, we will be able to step it up.”
Life got off to a sizzling start to the contest, getting on the board within the first three minutes of action with a try by wing Shaun Van Rensberg.
After a turnover by NYAC as they were driving toward their goal-line, Life forced a turnover and took the ball down pitch with a series of great passes and an incredible play by outside center Tui Osborne. From 40 meters out, Osborne kicked the ball upfield and ran to recover his own kick before passing off to Van Rensberg, who glided in for the try to give Life a 5-0 advantage.
McMaster slotted the conversion attempt to put Life ahead 7-0 early.
Life potentially used up a lot of its gas too early, as they struggled for the rest of the first half. After a penalty by Life, NYAC chose to go for points. The kick was good and made it 7-3.
NYAC made multiple charges that came up short of tries immediately following their penalty, but with just under 13 minutes to play in the half, NYAC chose to go for points again. However, this attempt was over 40 meters long and was far more challenging than the first, but center Alan McGinty still nailed it. 7-6 Life led.
Not too long after, Alastair McFarland of NYAC received a brilliant pass and raced in to score. NYAC led 13-7 with ten minutes left in the first half.
The defining moment in the match was at the conclusion of the first half as Life tried to stave off a strong attack by NYAC. Had they held the New Yorkers off, the Running Eagles might have felt a surge of confidence. But the NYAC forwards were too strong and took a 20-7 lead into the break.
Life looked as if they were going to get themselves back into the game when they started the second half in the same fashion as they did the first. After just under three minutes of action, flyhalf Benny Mateialona ran in for a try. McMaster’s conversion put Life within six at 20-14.
NYAC came back with a resounding response, Lou Stanfill scoring from a scrum. 27-14.
Once again Life replied. Wing Clint Whittler streaked down the field and broke multiple tackles to find the tryline and, with McMaster’s kick, make it 27-21.
But NYAC finished it off. A quick tap saw them score in the corner, and then Stanfill went over one more time to finish the game 39-21.
Life’s Super League team will enjoy a bye week next Saturday, while NYAC will be playing their regular-season finale at home against the Dallas Harlequins (0-4-2).
In Dallas, the visiting Boston RFC came away with a dramatic come-from-behind win to notch Boston’s first victory of the season. With about ten minutes left, Dallas had a 22-11 lead and seemed to have the game locked up. But the rest of the game was all Boston, as the hosts scored two converted triesto win the game.
Dallas does stay ahead of Boston in the standings however. Dallas travels to New York to take on NYAC in the final regular season game, while Boston is at home against Old Blue.