Rugby—whether it’s rugby league or rugby union—is a tough, gritty, physical sport, and injuries are just a part of the game. But injuries, along with a few absentee players, are what cost the Southampton Dragons a victory in its match with the New York Knights at Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor on Saturday.
A normal rugby league match begins 13 on 13. Southampton began Saturday’s match with just 11 players and, after 25 minutes of play, the Dragons were down to just nine players—an enormous handicap for a squad that was trying to upset a team that has won the past two American National Rugby League titles.
The Knights, meanwhile, had a full complement of 25 players. Needless to say, they remained undefeated and handed Southampton its first loss of the season, 38-22.
“It was really tough,” Southampton Dragons co-owner Craig Priestly said. “The weather was hot. It was, like, 90 degrees. We were down on numbers. We struggled in certain areas. But all of our players put their hands up and it was a great effort by everyone who was there. We could have easily thrown in the towel, but we all kept going hard. We came away with a lot of positives to take us through the rest of the season.”
Priestly said that Andrew Maroney was arguably his team’s best player on Saturday. Southampton native Isaiah Thomas also played well. “He shows up in every way he can,” Priestly said. “He’s tremendous. He’s learning a lot.”
Wes Haughton led Southampton in tries with two. Priestly and Dave Riva each had a try, and Priestly also kicked all three goals.
Most of the Dragons will have this week off to recuperate from their injuries. Priestly and fellow Dragon Damien O’Malveney will be with the USA Tomahawks National team on Saturday, though, as they play three matches against Canada in Toronto. The three friendlys are basically a tryout to see who will travel with the Tomahawks and compete in the World Cup in England in November.
On Saturday, July 13, Southampton will travel to Virginia to take on the Northern Virginia Eagles. For more information on the Dragons, go to southamptondragons.com.