NOLA Gold & New England Free Jacks Meet in Eastern Conference Match
NOLA Gold faces the New England Free jacks in an Eastern Conference match on Saturday, March 7 at 4 pm ET. The match is being streamed on ESPN+ and NESN+ and broadcast on Cos Sports TV. International viewers may view the match on Major League Rugby Facebook Live.
NOLA Gold Head Coach Nate Osborne has kept his starting squad intact from last week’s narrow loss to Western Division leaders, San Diego Legion.
Two changes have been made in the reserves with James Irey replacing Ben Tarr and Ross Deppertschmidt in the matchday 23 as John Sullivan is rested.
NOLA Gold will look to stop the Free Jacks from trying to take the team out of the match with early scores and will look to do the same with their expansive attack. Look for NOLA Gold to try to score from lineouts when they are deep inside New England territory instead of going for penalty goals early. The team will be looking to control set-piece play and use excellent line speed to minimize the impact of the Free Jacks attacks.
The weather is favorable to playing expansive rugby with low humidity that should make handling conditions ideal.
New England Free Jacks
Free Jacks Head Coach Josh Smith has made five changes in his starters from last week’s loss to the Seattle Seawolves. Tolu Fahamokioa is a loosehead prop and newly acquired Eagle Ben Landry is the blindside flanker.
In the backs, Tadhg Leader and Beaudein Waaka return from injuries and Liam Steel returns at the outside center, with Poasa Waqanibau switching to the wing.
The team also has Kensuke Hatakeyama back from the injury list and should be a key replacement at prop. Evan Geist also returns to the matchday 23.
After a win over Rugby United New York to begin the season, the Free Jacks have jumped out to leads, yet down the stretch have fallen three times to opponents. They will be looking to right the ship against a tough opponent in NOLA Gold.
The Free Jacks will likely have Tadgh Leader kicking for territory to attack within the Gold half. The team will need to use quick line speed in defense to stop the expansive Gold attack and to minimize penalties as Carl Meyer or JP Eloff are both accurate kickers.
John Poland has been a spark plug at scrumhalf and the return of Beaudein Waaka coupled with the other back three in Danny Collins and Poasa Waqanibau is bound to put points on the board.
The Free Jacks injury report listed that Anthony Purpura is week to week, with Jackson Thiebes and Mitch Wilson day-to-day, all with upper-body injuries.
NOLA Gold: 1 Matt Harmon 2 Eric Howard 3 Dino Waldren 4 Billy Stewart 5 Kyle Baillie (C) 6 Nikola Bursic 7 Moni Tongauiha 8 Cam Dolan 9 Scott Gale 10 Robbie Coleman 11 Julian Dominguez Widmer 12 Con Foley (VC) 13 Carl Meyer 14 Tim Maupin 15 JP Eloff 16 Cam Falcon17 Kevin Sullivan 18 James ‘Doc’ Irey 19 Kane Thompson 20 Malcolm May 21 Holden Yungert 22 Ross Depperschmidt 23 Nick Feakes
New England Free Jacks: 1 Tolu Fahamokioa 2 Sean McNulty 3 Donald Brighouse 4 Josh Larsen 5 Conor Kindregan 6 Ben Landry 7 Zack Stryffeler 8 Naulia Dawai 9 John Poland10 Tadhg Leader 11Danny Collins 12 Sam Beard 13 Liam Steel 14 Poasa Waqanibau 15 Mitch Wilson 16 Steve Hinshaw 17 Simon Courcoul18 Kensuke Hatakeyama 19 Owen Hundt 20 Evan Geist 21 Oliver Engelhart 22 Timothée Guillimin 23 Deion Mikesell