On Saturday, February 16, there was a battle of MLR unbeaten teams at Gold Stadium in Marrero, LA. Rugby United New York emerged with a 27-24 win to move to 2-0 on the season, while NOLA Gold fell to 3-1.
RUNY kicked to open the match and Scott Gale cleared. Chris Mattina chipped ahead and Mark O’Keeffe gathered and ran down the pitch inside the touchline. RUNY maintained possession through multiple phases but lost the ball forward a couple of meters from in-goal and JP Eloff cleared.
RUNY elected to kick from touch instead of taking a penalty and attacked from a lineout. NOLA Gold’s defense answered before a penalty by Gold led to a Cathal Marsh penalty kick to take a 3-0 lead.
It was then Gold’s turn to level the match after a RUNY muff on the restart, but a drop goal (appears to be after broadcast technical difficulties) and a penalty kick by Eloff bounced off the posts. Soon after, NOLA Gold would maul their way from a lineout with Eric Howard scoring a try. Eloff then slotted the conversion for a 7-3 lead.
A scrum penalty by RUNY allowed GOLD to kick for territory and Tony Lamborn mauled his way in for a try to push the lead to 12-3.
RUNY answered right back with Cathal Marsh selling a dummy to Dotti and racing deep before offloading inside to Connor Wallace-Sims for a try under the posts. Marsh then slotted the conversion to cut the lead to 12-10.
On the ensuing restart, the RUNY lost the ball after a Tristan Blewett hit. NOLA Gold attacked left from the scrum with Con Foley finding a gap and offloading to Eloff to Tikoisuva for a try.
Then it was RUNY’s turn as they went through phases with Cathal Marsh slicing in for a try and a conversion to knot the match at 17 all.
RUNY had the first chance to attack deep in the second half from a lineout 10-meters from in-goal, however, a Cassidy to Fawsitt offload was not handled.
NOLA Gold gained a 5-meter lineout after a RUNY penalty and Dylan Fawsitt was sent to the bin. Mike Brown came on for the 5-meter scrum with Matt Hughston going off. Gold drove from the scrum and Foley sliced to within inches from the line. Tony Lamborn then dove in for a try and Eloff converted to take a 24-17 lead.
From the restart, Anthony Parry powered forward and after Ben Foden went into contact, Gold was penalized for not releasing. RUNY again opted not to kick for points and attacked from a lineout. After several phases and another NOLA Gold penalty, RUNY elected another 5-meter lineout. Mike Brown powered to within a meter from the line, but another penalty gave RUNY another 5-meter lineout. Dylan Fawsitt came back from the bin and with RUNY at full strength mauled over in-goal with Fawsitt grounding the ball. Marsh then slotted the conversion to level the match at 24 all.
Unfortunately, soon after there was a power failure at Gold Stadium, which stopped the broadcast. A twitter comment indicated that Cathal Marsh slotted a penalty kick in the 73rd minute for a 27-24 lead, which held up for a Rugby United New York win.
The match was a heavyweight battle between the two best power rated teams. NOLA Gold picked up two bonus points in the loss, giving them 17 points as they top the MLR standings. Rugby United New York moves to 2-0 and has 8 points, which moves them to third place.
These teams will meet again in Brooklyn on May 26, with the potential regular season title on the line.
It is impressive how RUNY uses quick ball movement and support to create linebreak opportunities. NOLA Gold countered with excellent line speed in defense. Both teams will work on areas which need improvement, but all-in-all, you couldn’t ask for a better match.
My Man of the Match honors goes to Cathal Marsh for RUNY and Tony Lamborn for NOLA Gold. Many other players were clutch.
NOLA Gold has a bye next week and resumes play away on March 2 against the Utah Warriors. Rugby United New York will travel to meet the Seattle Seawolves on February 24 in the CBSSN Game of the Week.
Squads, Player Article Links & Match Preview
NOLA Gold: 1 Hubert Buydens 2 Eric Howard 3 Ben Tarr (VC) 4 Ignacio Dotti 5 Kane Thompson 6 Kyle Baille 7 Zack Stryffeler 8 Tony Lamborn 9 Holden Yungert 10 Scott Gale 11 JoJo Tikoisuva 12 Con Foley 13 Taylor Howden 14 Tristan Blewett 15 JP Eloff (C) 16 Matt Harmon 17 Cam Falcon 18 Kevin Sullivan 19 William Waguespack 20 Billy Stewart 21 John Sullivan 22 Shawn Riley 23 Nick Feakes
Rugby United New York: 1 James Rochford 2 Dylan Fawsitt 3 Kirkland Hamilton 4 Nate Brakeley 5 Trevor Cassidy 6 Kyle Sumsion 7 Matt Hughston 8 Ross Deacon 9 Mike Petri 10 Cathal Marsh 11 Connor Wallace-Sims 12 Will Leonard 13 Ben Foden 14 Mark O’Keeffe 15 Chris Mattina 16 Mike Brown 17 Anthony Parry 18 Callum Mackintosh 19 Matt Wirken 20 Alex MacDonald 21 Marcus Walsh 22 Gavan D’Amore Morrison 23 Derek Lipscomb
Last minute RUNY changes: Out – Paddy Ryan #3, Luke Hume #15 In – Callum Mackintosh #18 Gavan D’Amore-Morrison #22 with Kirk Hamilton moving to #3, Mark O’Keeffe to #14, Chris Mattina to #15