NOLA Gold lost to the Houston SaberCats 27-20 in their final home match at Gold Stadium on May 18. NOLA Gold’s record falls to 9-5, but they will maintain second place in the MLR with 52 points.
San Diego Legion is in first place in the MLR with 52 points, but pending their match with the Utah Warriors, they hold the point differential tie breaker. The top four teams in the MLR will make the playoffs, with six teams still in the playoff hunt.
The Toronto Arrows have played 14 games and have a bye this week. They are in third place with a 9-5 record and 48 points. The Seattle Seawolves are in fourth with a 9-4 record and 46 points and play the Glendale Raptors who are in sixth place with 42 points. The Seawolves have a narrow 27-24 lead over the Raptors at halftime and have earned a bonus point for scoring four tries. Rugby United New York has a 9-4 record and 44 points and plays Austin Elite Rugby on Sunday in the final MLR match of the weekend.
NOLA Gold finishes their final two matches away against Rugby United New York on May 26 and San Diego Legion on June 2.
The Houston SaberCats are out of the playoff picture, but are playing for pride, contracts, and want to gain greater fan support in their new home, AVEVA Stadium. They have three matches left after this weekend and want to end on a winning note. They host Austin Elite Rugby on May 25 and the Glendale Raptors in their Grand Stadium Opening on May 29. They then finish away against the Utah Warriors on June 1.
The Houston SaberCats received the opening kick and Josua Vici found a gap. A knockon within the Gold 22-meters stopped their attack briefly as NOLA Gold cleared. A penalty for not releasing in the breakdown allowed Sam Windsor to slot the kick for a 3-0 lead.
NOLA Gold had a similar opportunity when the SaberCats were penalized for not releasing. They kicked to touch and then mauled after a lineout. After a few phases and another SaberCats penalty, Eloff split the posts to level the match at 3 all.
A scrum penalty by NOLA Gold then resulted in another Windsor kick, however the kick went right of the posts. The SaberCats attacked again, but a Diego Magno pass was intercepted by Cam Dolan.
Attacking from a scrum, the SaberCats used quick hands left and after a few phases, Sam Windsor dotted down for the first try of the match. He then slotted the conversion for a Houston 10-3 lead.
NOLA Gold did not take advantage of a penalty by Houston for not rolling away, as a Scott Gale kick did not find touch and was grounded in-goal by Houston for a 22-meter drop. Zach Stryffeler then found a gap. Another penalty by the SaberCats resulted in a Gold lineout about 7 meters from in-goal. After several picks and goes, Eric Howard scored his nineth try of the season and Eloff slotted the kick to level the match at 10 all.
The SaberCats then went on a sustained attack going through multiple phases before losing the ball forward. This allowed Gale to clear and for Houston to attack again. A turnover however, allowed GAle to clear. Deion Mikesell gathered the ball and ran across the width with Tristan Blewett dislodging the ball and then gathering and scoring a Gold try. Eloff then slotted the conversion to lead 17-10.
The SaberCats then answered back with a try by Santiago Arata. Windsor then slotted the conversion to level the match again at 17 all at the break.
The Houston SaberCats had the first opportunity within the Gold 22-meters. A turnover then allowed Gold to clear. A strong run by Vici and and several phases was not rewarded as the ball was lost into touch giving NOLA Gold a lineout. A knock on however, resulted in a SaberCats scrum and after handling errors by both teams, NOLA Gold was called for illegal scrummaging. Windsor slotted the kick to reclaim a 20-17 lead.
The SaberCats attacked from a lineout and Alejandro Nieto burst through a gap for a try. Windsor again slotted the conversion to push the lead to 27-17.
In the 68th minute, Cam Dolan was sent to the bin for a trip. That will mean that NOLA Gold will be down a man for most of the remainder of the match.
The SaberCats knocked on the door with Deion Mikesell driven into touch 5-meters from in-goal. This gave NOLA Gold a lineout with four minutes remaining in the match. Gold charged back with the SaberCats pinged for a dangerous tackle. JP Eloff slotted the penalty goal to cut the lead to 27-20. That was important for NOLA Gold as it resulted in a losing bonus point and are tied with San Diego Legion with 52 points. They will retain second place in the standings based on point differential.
The Houston SaberCats are elated with the win and move to 3-11 and have 15 points. Houston has three remaining matches. NOLA Gold record falls to 9-5 and has to play the two other teams who defeated them at home this season. Next Sunday is away at RUNY with the Legion in two weeks.
The Houston SaberCats host Austin Elite Rugby on May 25 and the Glendale Raptors in their Grand Stadium Opening on May 29. They then finish away against the Utah Warriors on June 1.
Squads With Player Article Links & Preview
NOLA Gold: 1 Hubert Buydens 2 Eric Howard (C) 3 Alex Maughan 4 Kane Thompson 5 Nikola Bursic 6 Ignacio Dotti 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 (VC) 16 Matt Harmon 17 Cam Falcon18 Ross Davies 19 Billy Stewart 20 Moni Tongauiha 21 Michael Baska 22 Taylor Howden 23 JoJo Tikoisuva + Head Coach Nate Osborne
Houston SaberCats: 1 Jake Turnbull 2 Pat O’Toole 3 Charlie Connolly 4 Diego Magno 5 Victor Comptat 6 Matt Trouville (C) 7Luke Beauchamp 8 Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz 9 Santiago Arata 10 Sam Windsor 11 Malacchi Esdale 12 Thretton Palamo 13 Josua Vici 14 Deion Mikesell 15 Osea Kolinisau 16 Jamie Dever 17 Amro Gouda 18 Paul Mullen 19 Robert Meeson 20 Cecil Garber 21 Alejandro Nieto 22 Zach Pangelinan 23 Kieran Farmer + Interim Head Coach Paul Emerick