The ‘City of Champions’ has a new National Champion team after the Boston 13s capped off a dominant USARL season by defeating the Atlanta Rhinos 44-12 to claim their first ring.
Having taken care of heavyweights Philadelphia Fight comfortably two weeks earlier, Boston went into the championship game as heavy favorites.
However, Their maiden title hopes took a major hit when star playmaker Dustin Cooper ruled himself out of the season finale a few days before kick off due to family matters.
With Cooper out, fellow 4605 product Liam Georgetown shifted into five-eighth to steer the team around.
In wet conditions, it was obvious what the Thirteens’ intentions were from the kick off. An aggressive and physical defense put a lot of pressure on the Atlanta attack.
Boston opened the scoring after five minutes when hooker Kane Bentley dived over from close range having fooled the defense with a dummy.
The weather took a turn for the worse at the nine minute mark, and the match was suspended due to lightning.
Once play resumed, Bentley picked up where he left off, crossing for his second after supporting hard running Trevor McKenzie who tore through the Atlanta scrum defense with ease.
The Thirteens looked to further extend their lead next possession until Atlanta, against the run of play, ran 100 yards open their account and make the score 8-6.
Just as Atlanta seemed to find their groove and play with confidence, a magnificent individual effort from Georgetown from 60 yards out quickly halted things for the Rhinos.
Two more tries to Kiwis Kiwa Oakes, and Bentley again, meant the Northern Conference Champs went into half time with a comfortable 26-6 lead.
Atlanta started the second half knowing they had a big job at hand, and quickly went to work to reducing the deficit to 14 points by scoring early.
They continued to pressure the Boston defense but couldn’t manage to capitalize on the great possession and field position to add to the scoreboard.
It took 20 minutes into the second half for the Thirteens to get back on the board.
A fantastic clean up and 40 yard break by quiet achiever Conor Leahy paved the way for Flyin’ Hawaiin to run 40 yards himself and touch the ball down.
A clever play from dummy half by Leahy seven minutes later put Boston’s work horse, Craig MacKenzie, over from close range.
The ever present Lawrence Crilley carved through the Rhino’s right edge defense to round out the scoring, and doing so secured the Boston 13s’ inaugural USARL National Championship.
“I was impressed with the platform our forwards set”, said victorious Boston 13s Head Coach Robin Peers. “They never took a backwards step and were the cornerstone to our victory. Marcos Flegmann was outstanding and has been the best forward in the competition since we moved him to the front row in July.”