New England Free Jacks

Free Jacks fall to Chicago Hounds, remain atop Eastern Conference

Hounds got their revenge on the Free Jacks at Veterans Memorial Stadium.


The first-place Free Jacks (6-3-0, 30 pts) were back at home for the fifth time this year after a successful trip to Los Angeles, where the team came away with a bonus point win. The two top teams of the Major League Rugby (MLR) Eastern Conference faced off as The Chicago Hounds won 26-20 at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy on Sunday. The last time these two clubs met was in Round 4 in Chicago, which resulted in a hard-fought Free Jacks win.

Beginning with the kickoff, both teams brought their all, with Chicago’s Conall Boomer scoring their first try of the match (failed conversion) for an early 5-0 Hounds’ lead. Free Jacks Seta Baker responded by scoring a try (failed conversion) to tie the score 5-5, 15 minutes into the match. 

Chicago answered with a successful penalty kick to lead 8-5. 

Nearing the break, the Free Jacks Wayne van der Bank broke through the Hounds’ defense to excite the 3,500 in attendance. The Free Jacks were awarded a penalty kick, and the Jayson Potroz kick was successful, tying the match at eight.

With less than five minutes to go in the first 40, Chicago’s Dylan Fawsitt scored a try (failed conversion) to give the visitors a 13-8 halftime lead. The score came after the Free Jacks’ Baker was handed a yellow card at 35 minutes.

A minute out of halftime, Maclean Jones extended Chicago's lead 20-8 with a conversion kick from Adriaan Carelse. Following that score, the Free Jacks' Danyon Morgan-Puterangi collected a high ball and quickly handed it off to Paula Balekana who dived over the try line to move to 20-13 (conversion failed). Chicago answered with a penalty kick and a 23-13 lead.

With twenty minutes to play, the Free Jacks' Jayson Potroz, one of the key starters, walked off for an injury during the run of play. The loss of Potroz continued a trend of in-game losses that have plagued the Free Jacks in recent weeks. 

Another penalty kick to Chicago upped the lead to 26-13.

In an attempt to ignite a comeback, Balekana scored his second try of the day with less than 20 minutes to play. Danyon Morgan-Puterangi kicked the conversion, closing the score to  26-20. The Free Jacks would come up five meters short in their comeback as the Hounds held on deep in their own territory in the final minutes to secure the win.

The Free Jacks now head into their second and final bye week of the season.

“We gotta get the bodies right. We have had a few boys go down, but we are excited for the challenge. The boys have had great opportunities over the last few weeks due to the injuries. But we're focusing on resting, recuperating, and spending some time away with family and friends and then come on and come in and smash us back into the season,” said Josh Larsen.

Despite the loss, the Free Jacks remain atop Major League Rugby’s Eastern Conference at 6-3-0 (30 points). The Free Jacks play next on Sunday, May 19 at the San Diego Legion at 4 p.m. ET. The match will air on NBC Sports Boston.

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