New England Free Jacks

Free Jacks topple San Diego Legion after furious second-half comeback

New England scored 19 straight points to win the 2023 title rematch.


The New England Free Jacks and the San Diego Legion faced off in a thrilling rematch of last year's Major League Rugby (MLR) championship. The Free Jacks, fresh from a bye week, trailed by 10, 13-3, at the half, but ripped off 19 straight points and withheld a late Legion surge to pull out the 24-23 road victory.

The one-point win matched the MLR title game victory that capped the 2023 campaign.

The Free Jacks were held without a try in the first-half, but wasted no time rallying after the break. At 41 minutes, Danyon Morgan-Puterangi broke through the Legion line after the kickoff and off-loaded to Cam Davidowicz for a Free Jacks try. The successful conversion by Morgan-Puterangi narrowed the deficit to 13-10. 

The Free Jacks continued their second-half push with a series of well-executed phases that ended with Wayne van der Bank breaking through the Legion defense and powering forward for a try. Morgan-Puterangi added the conversion to give the Free Jacks their first lead at 17-13.

After several turnovers and intense scrums in the closing stages, Piers von Dadelszen scored a try (conversion good), extending the lead to 24-13. San Diego responded with a try by Lincoln McClutchie, narrowing the score to 24-20 after the conversion was no good.

The final moments were fraught with tension as the Free Jacks received two yellow cards and played the final five minutes with only 13 men. The advantage to San Diego resulted in a Tomas Aoake try, but the game-winning conversion failed, which concluded a dramatic and action-packed match, 24-23.

“We came out and we executed what we wanted to achieve in the second half. I just thought we were brave with the ball. I was really proud of us as a team. To come all the way out and get to win like that is special,” said head coach Scott Mathie. 

The Free Jacks play next when they visit the Miami Sharks at 7:00 p.m. ET. The match will air on NBC Sports Boston.

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