The Houston SaberCats will host NOLA Gold Rugby Club on Saturday, March 16 at Constellation Field, Sugar Land, Texas at 7 pm CDT (8 pm EDT). Tickets are available and the match may be viewed on Facebook Watch and on KUBE.
The Houston SaberCats played their best rugby match of the season last week and had the Seattle Seawolves on the brink of defeat before two quick tries in the last eight minutes of the match. The team now turns to face lead leading NOLA Gold, who travels after a bye week.
Houston SaberCats Head Coach Justin Fitzpatrick has made three changes in his starters from last week’s match against the Seattle Seawolves. Diego Magno, Santiago Arata, and Joe Kelly start at lock, scrumhalf, and wing respectively. Chris Coyle returns to the team in the reserves after the birth of his daughter.
The MLR season requires keeping players fresh and Malacchi Esdale, Ayron Schramm, Mateo Sanguinetti, and Paul Mullen are not on the matchday squad.
NOLA Gold Head Coach Nate Osborne has made five changes in his starters from two weeks ago as internationals return from the Americas Rugby Championship and from injury.
Seven of the forwards are internationals with Hubert Buydens, Ignacio Dotti, Hyle Baillie, and Cam Dolan playing loosehead prop, lock, flanker, and No. 8, respectively. Tim Maupin and Nikola Bursic return from injury as a starter and as a reserve, respectively.
NOLA Gold is in first place in the MLR standings with a 4-1 record and 21 points. The Houston SaberCats are 1-4, but have played well and could have potentially been 3-2. NOLA Gold plays expansive rugby and is the leading scoring team in the league. Both teams have conceded similar points.
In set pieces, both teams should be even in the scrums, while the SaberCats have an edge in lineouts won. Having Cam Dolan and Ignacio Dotti back should be an equalizer.
Houston has created more turnover on tackles but has lost the ball more with handling errors. The latter was minimized last week against the Seawolves.
The SaberCats played outstanding on defense last week against the Seawolves, except for the final eight minutes with substitutions having been made. The SaberCats face a different challenge this week with NOLA Gold using a quick ball to exploit gaps in their opponent’s defense. Look for the SaberCats to play more of a possession game with tactical kicking to play in NOLA Gold territory.
Squads with Player Article Links
Houston SaberCats: 1 Jamie Dever 2 Pat O’Toole 3 Charlie Connolly 4 Diego Magno 5 Matt Trouville (C) 6 Luke Beauchamp 7 Cecil Garber 8 Alejandro Nieto 9 Santiago Arata 10 Sam Windsor 11 Joe Kelly 12 Conor Mills 13 Osea Kolinisau 14 Josua Vici 15 Zach Pangelinan 16 Amro Gouda 17 Jake Turnbull 18 Matt Almeida 19 Robert Meeson 20 Chris Parker 21 Chris Coyle 22 Connor Murphy 23 Max Tacket + Head Coach Justin Fitzpatrick
NOLA Gold: 1Hubert Buydens 2 Eric Howard (C) 3 Ben Tarr 4 Kane Thompson 5 Ignacio Dotti 6 Kyle Baille 7 Zack Stryffeler 8 Cam Dolan 9 Holden Yungert 10 Scott Gale 11 Nick Feakes 12 Con Foley 13 Tristan Blewett 14 Tim Maupin 15 JP Eloff (C) 16 Matt Harmon 17 Cam Falcon 18 Kevin Sullivan19 Nikola Bursic 20 Moni Tongauiha 21 John Sullivan 22 Taylor Howden23 JoJo Tikoisuva