March 15, 2016
Austin Huns Come Back to Beat New Orleans
Photo: New Orleans
Austin Huns Press Release
The Austin Huns storm back to defeat New Orleans 17 – 19
Austin, TX (March 14, 2016) The Austin Huns traveled to New Orleans this past weekend and secured a thrilling 19-17 come from behind victory to take possession of third place in Red River competition. In spite of a week of rainy weather, the pitch at Gretna Park was firm and the match was played under good conditions. The Huns were without their usual 9-10 combination of Gio Bonilla and Thierry Daupin, but veteran Mike Hickey and center Lomani Tongotongo ably filled those roles, with Tongotongo taking Man of the Match honors.
After missing an early penalty kick, NOLA opened the scoring at the ten minute mark. The ball shot out the back of the Huns’ scrum catching Hickey off guard. The New Orleans scrumhalf pounced on it and 50 meters later the home team had a try under the posts, taking a 0-7 lead. After the kickoff the Huns were awarded a penalty shot but Tongotongo’s attempt was wide. Huns got the ball back and played for territory until they were awarded a scrum five meters from the NOLA goal line. The Huns front row, dominant most of the day, took over and nearly drove it in for the pushover try. #8 Rui D’Orey Branco picked up to attack the line. He did not score, but the Huns recycled quickly and inside center Sani Taylor was able to touch down. The conversion was also missed, leaving the score 5-7 after 28 minutes.
It was New Orleans’ turn to invade the Huns’ end of the field, and only a few minutes later the Huns’ rush defense left a gap that flyhalf Jeff Reuther exploited. The home team had their second try under the posts, taking a 5-14 point lead, that but for two missed penalty attempts could easily have been larger. The Huns’ put together some strong phase play after the kickoff but were unable to score, and finished the half trailing by 9.
In the second half it was clear New Orleans had adjusted to the Huns’ pattern. They used excellent line speed to catch Huns’ runners behind the gain line again and again. Eventually they were rewarded with another kickable penalty, this time splitting the posts to widen the margin to 5-17 with 20 minutes to play. Powerful scrummaging by the Huns’ tight five and some smart kicking by Tongotongo were the only things keeping the visitors in the game at that point. A change of tactics and fresh legs were needed, and the Huns got both in the final 15 minutes. Forwards Nico Martinez and Sean McFadden came off the bench and the pack began using their scrum and pick and drive to good effect. Kicking their way into New Orleans territory, Huns eschewed the lineout or penalty shots in favor of scrums whenever possible, and attacked the NOLA defense around the rucks. Soon “Mani” crashed over for a try from his spot at first receiver, and sub Alex Liles took over the kicking duties to convert. The margin was 12-17 with only 8 minutes to play.
In the tense final stanza, Huns went right back to the tactics that had gotten them back in the game. With no time left after a defensive penalty against New Orleans, Huns opted for the scrum. Winning the ball, they attacked the fringes again and again until seemingly scoring a try just left of the posts. The referee ruled it was held up, but went back to play Huns’ advantage from another New Orleans offside penalty directly in front of the posts. Again the spiritual descendants of Attila chose the scrum, and Mani bulled over the try line just right of the posts. This time there was no doubt – try awarded! Liles converted, the whistle blew, and the Huns had beaten New Orleans for the first time in 5 attempts, 19-17.
The Huns’ record now stands at 5 and 3. They are off this week for Austin’s SXSW festival, and return to action on April 3rd when they host New Orleans for a rematch at Nixon Lane.
Huns 19 New Orleans 17 (5-14 at half)
Huns scoring:Tries: Tongotongo (2), Taylor, Conversions: Liles (2), Penalties: none
New Orleans scoring: Tries: 2, Conversions: 2, Penalties: 1
About HUNS Rugby Football Club
The Huns Rugby Football Club was founded in 1972 and is one of the first rugby clubs of its kind in Central Texas. Over more than 40 years, the club has developed an organization and a culture that have produced winning teams, first class coaches and players. The Huns’ training and competition fields are unmatched by any other in the region. For many years now The Huns Rugby football club remains one the largest men’s clubs in the United States, competing in all 3 National USA Rugby 15s divisions and the National 7s division.