In Major League Rugby Round 2 action, NOLA Gold Rugby Club hosted the Glendale Raptors at Gold Stadium on Saturday, February 2 in Marrero, Louisiana and left the match with a 40-31 win.
With the win, NOLA Gold moved to 2-0 and are in first place with 10 points. The Glendale Raptors fell to 0-2 with 2 points.
Last week NOLA Gold opened their season with a 36-31 win over the Toronto Arrows, while the Glendale Raptors lost to the Seattle Seawolves 20-18.
Both teams missed several players to the 2019 Americas Rugby Championship. NOLA Gold lost Eric Howard, Kyle Baillie, Cam Dolan, Ignacio Dotti, and Tim Maupin, who was slated to play, however, injured. The Raptors are missing Shaun Davies, Will Magie, and Hanco Germishuys.
NOLA Gold used a scrum penalty by the Glendale Raptors to attack from a 22-meter lineout. After several phases, the Raptors were penalized for not rolling away and JP Eloff slotted the kick to take an early 3-0 lead.
A side entry at the breakdown allowed Gold to clear, but they did not find touch, giving the Raptors their first real attacking chance. A knock on, however, gave Gold a scrum about 35 meters out. The ball went left to Taylor Howden, who bounced off two defenders for a try. Eloff then slotted the conversion for a 10-0 lead. Harley Davidson was shaken up on the play and left the pitch with Nick Johnson replacing him.
NOLA Gold kept the pressure on with a run and a chip by Eloff and then after a clearance kick, a chip, and chase by Tristan Blewett. The ball was turned over for a Glendale scrum and Will Munro rambled into the Gold territory before Gold was awarded a scrum, allowing them to clear.
Glendale answered back from a Gold clearance kick with runs by Dylan Taikoto-Simpson and John Ryberg before William Munro finished with a try. Robbie Petzer then slotted the conversion to cut the lead to 10-7.
NOLA Gold’s Scott Gale executed a grub kick that touched Ryberg’s hands for a Gold lineout. The team advanced to within 1-meter of the line with the Raptors being penalized. From a 5-meter lineout, the team mauled over the line with Zack Styffeler touching down for a 15-7 lead, as Eloff’s conversion sailed wide.
Gold added a penalty kick by Eloff after Taylor Howden received an inside ball and the Raptors were penalized at the breakdown.
The Raptors took the restart and advance the ball to the Gold 5-meter line after a strong run by Ryberg and went through several phases before a penalty allowed Gold to clear. Soon after, the Raptors attacked from a scrum 22-meters out. The team used quick hands out wide to John Ryberg, who powered over for a try in the left corner to cut the lead to 18-12. Petzer’s conversion from touch was then off the mark.
Glendale took advantage of an errant Gold pass with Nick Johnson racing toward the line. Tristan Blewett tracked back and saved a try and forced a turnover allowing Gold to clear. JP Eloff then slotted a penalty kick on the final play before the break, pushing the lead to 21-12.
Glendale had the first sustained attack, but handling errors continue to stop their attacks. NOLA Gold answered with a Taylor Howden dummy and scored his second try. Eloff then slotted the conversion to push the lead to 28-12.
A Glendale attack had Kruse with a strong run and Howden saving a try. After a Gold penalty, the Raptors elected to attack from a lineout, but the ball was turned over inches from the line. The pressure continued on Gold with the Raptors attacking again from a lineout just inside the Gold 22-meters. The ball went side right with Dylan Taikato-Simpson stepping out just prior to the line. A penalty advantage was in effect and they attacked again from a 5-meter lineout. Four phases later, Luke White took an inside ball from Carlo de Nysschen in for a try. Robbie Petzer then cut the lead to 28-19 after he slotted the conversion.
With the ball in hand, the Raptors continued to pressure NOLA Gold. The ball went wide left and William Munro grounded for the team’s 4th try, cutting the lead to 28-24 and earning a team bonus point. Petzer’s conversion from touch was wide.
Just when the Raptors continued to control possession, NOLA Gold’s Scott Gale sliced through the Raptors defense for the team’s 4th try pushing the lead to 33-24 and gaining a team bonus point.
Gold then added another quick try as Gale found a gap and offloaded to Cam Foley, who set up Tristan Blewett for a try and an Eloff conversion for a 40-24 lead.
With the Raptors needing three scores it was desperation time. The Raptors had a sustained possession placing Gold under pressure, but a handling error temporarily stopped their attack. A scrum turnover then allowed Brendan Daly to cross the line for a quick try. Taikato-Simpson then converted to cut the lead to 40-31 with six minutes remaining.
The Raptors attacked to within a couple meters of the line with Ata Malfia being a spark plug in the attack. The ball was lost, however, and after a penalty, Gold cleared.
NOLA Gold held on to claim a 40-31 win and are 2-0 with 10 points to continue in first-place. The Glendale Raptors are 0-2 with 2 bonus points after 2 matches.
Some keys to the match were the NOLA Gold controlling their set pieces early on and continuing their expansive attack against another quality opponent. The Raptors had too many handling errors that thwarted their possession and the momentum from the attack. In the second half, they maintained more possession and fought themselves back into the match, before Gold countered with a couple of tries.
With the League being much stronger this year, each match presents challenges. This is only the second week of play, but bonus points will likely factor into who advances to the playoffs at regular season’s end.
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NOLA Gold: 1 Hubert Buydens 2 Matt Harmon 3 Ben Tarr (VC) 4 William Waguespack 5 Billy Stewart 6 John Sullivan7 Zack Stryffeler 8 Kane Thompson 9 Holden Yungert 10 Scott Gale 11 JoJo Tikoisuva 12 Cam Foley 13 Taylor Howden 14 Tristan Blewett 15 JP Eloff (C) 16 Mason Briant 17 Cam Falcon 18 Kevin Sullivan 19 Malcolm May 20 Caleb Meyer 21 Nick Feakes 22 Cam Troxler 23 Michael Baska
Glendale Raptors: 1 Blake Rogers 2 Chad Gough 3 Marco Fepulea’i 4 Luke White (C) 5 Brendan Daly 6 William Munro 7 Peter Dahl 8 Connor Cook 9 Carlo De Nysschen 10 Robbie Petzer 11 Harley Davidson 12 Chad London13 Mika Kruse 14 John Ryberg 15 Dylan Taikato-Simpson 16 Zach Fenoglio 17 Max Lum 18 Kelepi Fifita19 Casey Rock 20 Jason Damm 21 Mickey Bateman 22 Ata Malifa 23 Nick Johnson