NOLA Gold defeated the New England Free jacks 31-22 in an Eastern Conference match on Saturday, March 7 at Shrine on Airline. The match was streamed on ESPN+ and NESN+ and broadcast on Cox Sports TV.
NOLA Gold vs New England Free Jacks Match Recap
Tolu Fahamokioa was a last-minute change in the starters with Donald Brighouse shifting to loosehead prop, Kensuke Hatakeyama moving to tighthead, and Fahamokioa moving to the reserves.
Following a Free Jacks box kick, NOLA Gold went through phases after a lineout and then turned over the ball inside New England’s 22-meters. This allowed the Free Jacks to clear.
The match was halted for a short time in the 5th minute after Zack Stryffeler sustained an ankle injury and was replaced by Owen Hundt. It is hoped that the injury is not too serious and all wish him well. He was one of the leading tacklers in the league last year for NOLA Gold.
NOLA Gold attacked with a long run by Scott Gale before the ball was stolen by Ben Landry after a counter ruck. Beaudein Waaka weaved through the opposition, but soon after, a knock-on led to a NOLA Gold scrum.
The Free jacks were penalized for releasing its bind and then an obstruction penalty from the lineout resulted in another lineout inside New England’s 22-meters. The Free Jacks defended well and a forward pass was brought back as a penalty advantage was being played.
After the ensuing 5-meter lineout, Dino Waldren reached over for a try and Carl Meyer converted to take a 7-0 lead.
The New England Free Jacks answered back mauling from a lineout with Naulia Dawai scoring the try. Tadhg Leader then slotted the conversion to level the match at 7 all.
NOLA Gold advanced the ball in-goal but it was held up. A penalty advantage resulted in a 5-meter lineout and Cam Dolan, who is 30 today, was held up. NOLA Gold elected a scrum this time with Nikola Bursic scoring the team’s second try to reclaim a 14-7 lead after Meyer added the extras.
The Free Jacks attempted to cut the lead after a NOLA Gold penalty, but Tadhg Leader’s attempt was wide.
NOLA Gold advanced deep inside Free Jacks’ territory in the closing minute but was penalized and New England kicked to touch to end the half, 14-7 in NOLA Gold’s favor.
The Free jacks attacked from a turnover with multiple offloads before reaching within 5-meters on in-goal. Conor Kindregan barrelled over the line to cut the lead to 14-12 as Leader’s conversion was wide.
NOLA Gold answered with a run by Tim Maupin with a offload to Con Foley, and Foley was ruled held up in-goal which resulted in a 5-meter scrum. A few forward picks and the ball was turnover to the Free Jacks, which allowed them to escape the pressure through a clearance kick.
The Free jacks answered back from a lineout and a Sam Beard offload to Liam Steel resulted in a try in the right corner to take a 17-14 lead.
On the ensuing restart, the Free jacks were penalized at their 22-meters and resulted in Carl Meyer leveling the match at 17 all.
A Beaudein Waaka offload to Naulia Dawai and inside to Poasa Waqanibau, resulted in a John Poland try to retake the lead, 22-17, giving them a bonus point.
NOLA Gold’s Robbie Coleman grub kick results in a chase by Dominguez with Free Jacks Waaka touching down, resulting in a 22-meter dropkick. NOLA Gold counterattacked and after having numbers left, Scott Gale scored a try. Meyer then slotted the kick to reclaim at 24-22 lead in this seesaw battle. It did appear that the offload to Baillie was forward on the play, but no call was made.
A Free Jacks’ pass was then intercepted by Can Dolan, who motored in for a bonus point try. Meyer added the extras and the lead was suddenly 31-22. This means that two scores are needed by New England with 11 minutes remaining in the match.
Just as the Free jacks were on the verge of scoring, Carl Meyer intercepted an errant pass and a knock-on on the pass resulted in a New England scrum at their own 22-meters.
Neither team would add additional points, although both teams had their chances.
With the win, NOLA Gold improves its record to 3-2 and has 16 points and moves them into second place at least temporarily with other Eastern Conference matches to come. The New England Free Jacks fell to 1-4 and are in sixth place in the standings, but picked up a bonus point to give them 9 points. Rugby ATL is ahead of them with 10 with a game against Old Glory DC on Sunday.
NOLA Gold will travel to Utah for a March 13 match against the Warriors, while the Free jacks have their home opener against the Houston Sabercats the next day.
NOLA Gold vs New England Free Jacks Squads & Match Preview
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 Donald Brighouse 2 Sean McNulty 3 Kensuke Hatakeyama 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 Tolu Fahamokioa19 Owen Hundt 20 Evan Geist 21 Oliver Engelhart 22 Timothée Guillimin 23 Deion Mikesell