New England Free Jacks

Free Jacks clinch top seed in Eastern Conference with domination of Anthem RC

New England will open the MLR playoffs at home on July 20 against Old Glory DC.

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QUINCY - The New England Free Jacks hosted their final regular season game this weekend against Anthem RC, where they secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and home-field advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs, winning 40-7. 

The Free Jacks dominated Anthem RC from the start of the match with a strong performance in front of a crowd of 4,000. Wayne van der Bank began the scoring with a pop kick to himself and a try. A successful conversion by Jayson Potroz gave the Free Jacks an early 7-0 lead.

At the 12-minute mark, the Free Jacks' Andrew Quattrin barreled in for a try off a maul. A successful conversion upped the lead to 14-0. At the 15-minute mark, van der Bank made a crucial defensive play, preventing Anthem from scoring by pulling the ball away just as they reached the try line.

Ten minutes later, Kaleb Geiger took in a line-out, giving the Free Jacks possession deep in Anthem territory. Potroz executed a pass to van der Bank, who broke through the line and scored a try. Potroz's conversion was good, extending the Free Jacks' lead to 21-0 going into halftime.

Coming out of the break, Quattrin scored his second try of the match (conversion failed), increasing the lead to 26-0. Shortly after, the Free Jacks worked like a well-oiled machine as Malakai Hala-Ngatai scored a try to increase New England’s lead to 33 points. 

With only five minutes left in the match, Anthem's Connor Robinson scored their first try, followed by a conversion from Oscar Koller. As the match ended, Free Jacks’ Toby Fricker received a pass on the wing and dove over the line for a Free Jacks try. Potroz converted the kick to settle the final score at 40-7. 

As the result of an international break, the Free Jacks have two weeks before the playoffs and much of their squad will scatter around the rugby world.

"We have got seven players away for international duties, so we have been trying to manage going into these two weeks. The rest of the team will get one week off, and then we will train fully the next week. It is all about trying to be the most prepared and have as much cohesion going from this game into the playoffs," general manager Thomas Kindley said.

“Rugby is only an 80-minute game so it goes pretty quick. You have to be consistent, not just on the day, but for your training weeks. You have to make sure you're working hard, not taking it easy and no shortcuts and it will show when we get to a game,” said captain Jayson Potroz.

The defending Major League Rugby champions finished first in the Eastern Conference with an 11-5 record (55 points). The Free Jacks open the playoffs against Old Glory DC at home on Saturday, July 20, at 5 p.m. ET. The match will air on FOX Sports 2.

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