New England Free Jacks

Free Jacks defeat Chicago Hounds to stay atop Eastern Conference

New England maintained its lead in the East standings with a hard-fought victory.

New England Free Jacks vs. Chicago Hounds
New England Free Jacks

The Free Jacks improved to 3-1 on the young season Sunday with a hard-fought road win over the Chicago Hounds.

The last time the New England Free Jacks played at SeatGeek Stadium in Chicago, they won the MLR shield. On a windy Sunday in Chicago, the Free Jacks continued their success on this pitch by defeating the Chicago Hounds, 22-17.  

The Free Jacks scored the first try of the game at the 16-minute mark. Jayson Potroz scooped up a loose ball off an errant Free Jacks line out and charged through the Hounds' defense for the try. Potroz also made the conversion to make it a 7-0 game.  

It was a defensive struggle for most of the first half with the windy conditions playing a factor. At the 32-minute mark, the Hounds scored a penalty try after Reece MacDonald illegally broke up a try-scoring pass. MacDonald received a yellow card and 10-minute penalty. The penalty try made the score 7-7.  

Moments later, the Hounds broke free again, but Paula Balekana made a try-saving tackle at the 35-minute mark. Two minutes later, Potroz scored his second try after a beautiful offload from Danyon Morgan-Puterangi. Potroz tight-roped down the touchline for the score. His conversion was unsuccessful leaving the score 12-7.

Potroz, the defending MLR Player of the Year, was virtually everywhere in the first half, making a try-saving tackle at the 40-minute mark.

The second half began with the wind at the Free Jacks backs. At the 43-minute mark, the Free Jacks once again made a third try-saving tackle, this time by Piers von Dadelszen.  

At the 50-minute mark, Potroz put three more points on the board from a penalty kick to make the score 15-7. Twenty minutes later, the Hounds scored their own penalty kick by Adriaan Carelse.  

With five minutes remaining, Free Jacks Prop Malakai Hala made a quick beautiful move for a big man to score the diving try from a foot away. Potroz made the conversion to make the score 22-10. The Hounds’ Maclean Jones scored the final try of the match off a Hounds’ line out. The conversion was good to make the score the final 22-17. 

Potroz was named player of the match, scoring 17 of the Free Jacks’ 22 points in the match. With the win, the Free Jacks improved to 3-1 and are tied for first place with NOLA Gold with 15 points. The Free Jacks remain in first place in the Eastern Conference with a 43-point differential.  

The Free Jacks play next against the Miami Sharks at Veterans Memorial Stadium on April 6, at 4:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Boston.

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