NOLA Gold Rugby Club opened the season with a 26 all draw with Old Glory DC at the Gold Mine on Airline in New Orleans on Sunday, March 21. The match was originally scheduled to open the 2021 MLR season, however, a positive Covid-19 test for Old Glory prior to the team’s departure shifted the match to Sunday. All Old Glory players who traveled had negative tests.
Old Glory strikes first after a penalty by NOLA Gold, with Jason Robertson slotting a penalty goal for a 3-0 lead. NOLA Gold used a penalty to set up a lineout 5-meters from in-goal and Cam Dolan mauled his way for a try to lead 5-3, as the conversion was missed by Meyer.
Old Glory reclaimed the lead another a second Robertson penalty goal, 5-6. NOLA Gold then had a chance to go for posts after a DC penalty, however, they elected to kick for touch and mauled from a lineout. Another Old Glory penalty resulted in another 5-meter lineout. Jamason Fa’anana Schultz created a turnover at the breakdown with DC clearing.
NOLA Gold creates a scrum penalty, but elect not to go for points again, but kick for a 5-meter attacking lineout. Old Glory was penalized again with Longwell warned. Meyer kicks to touch again for another 5-meter lineout. The maul was stopped, but the Gold forwards picks resulted in the ball being held up in-goal, resulting in a Gold 5-meter scrum. Old Glory’s defense was stellar but after a penalty Gold elects a scrum, instead of their third chance at a penalty goal. The DC defense thwarted NOLA Gold again.
The ensuing scrum, had an infraction by Gold, allowing Old Glory to clear. Old Glory put the ball on the deck and the turnover allowed Coleman to attack with multiple players advancing the ball forward before a penalty had Old Glory clearing. DC capitalized on a handling error with Tusitala splitting defenders for a try under the posts, which gave DC 7-0 with the automatic conversion credited also to Tusitala, 5-13.
NOLA Gold used a 22-meter lineout take with a Meyer break, an offload to Coleman, and out to the wing before a knock-on gave DC a scrum. Handling errors are impacting NOLA and a scrum infraction has Old Glory attacking from a lineout about 35 meters from in-goal. Discipline errors by Gold resulted in a third penalty goal by Robertson, 5-16.
The restart had Tusitala box kicking and Old Glory retrieving, but a knock-on gave Gold a scrum near midfield. Gold moved the ball wide left, but DC defense resulted in a turnover for a lineout and a kick for territory. Another DC lineout was overthrown and Gold cleared.
Both teams traded quick taps after penalties with NOLA gold advancing from inside their 22-meter to inside Old Glory’s 15-meters. Gold moved the ball to within a couple of meters of in-goal and then had a 5-meter attacking scrum in the 41st minute. Holden Yungert grounded with no time, and Carl Meyer slotted for a 12-16 score at the break.
During the first half, Old Glory’s defense was stellar, and the team took advantage of NOLA Gold infractions and handling errors, which resulted in 16 points. NOLA Gold opted on three occasions to kick to touch for attacking lineouts, instead of penalty goal attempts. This strategy did not gain points.
NOLA Gold had a lethal lineout presence in close, but credit DC again for their defending their in-goal. NOLA used quick ball wide and tried to exploit gaps, but the attacking opportunities were largely thwarted by either DC defense or NOLA Gold errors.
NOLA Gold claimed the second-half restart and after an Old Glory penalty attacked from a lineout inside DC’s 22-meters. Old Glory defended the breakdown within meters of the line and cleared after the penalty.
An Old Glory maul and Tusitala offloading blind, with Roberts-TeNana offloading inside to Tusitala tor his second try. Robertson remained perfect on the day with his conversion pushing the lead to 23-12.
NOLA Gold immediately placed Old Glory under pressure attacking within a couple of meters of in-goal, but Steven Longwell created a turnover to allow Old Glory to clear after a penalty. Another Gold infraction resulted in a lineout inside Gold’s 22-meters. Soon a turnover gave Gold an attacking scrum on their own 22-meters, which after the win, resulted in a clearance kick.
NOLA Gold placed Old Glory under pressure as they went through phases before Carl Meyer sliced through a gap for a try under the posts, 19-23.
After the ensuing restart, the ball was stolen by Old Glory. A handling error gave NOLA Gold an attacking scrum deep inside their territory. After a scrum reset, Dc was penalized and Gold advanced the ball near midfield for an attacking lineout. NOLA Gold used a quicker tempo by Stevens to have the backs attacking with a flair. A penalty for playing the ball off the ground ended this attack with DC countering with a lineout on Gold’s 22-meter line. An Old Glory breakdown infraction instead, ended a potential scoring opportunity and gave the ball back to Gold for a lineout around midfield after a water break.
Fa’anana-Schultz created a turnover at the breakdown after a tackle by Mungo Mason, but Gold stole the ensuing lineout deep inside NOLA Gold territory. Gold then attacked and Old Glory was penalized for a dangerous tackle.
NOLA Gold will be concerned with losing attacking chances for points with either penalties or handling errors. Once again, a Gold penalty allowed Old Glory to attack from a scrum from inside Gold’s territory. After a Gold penalty, Robertson slotted his fourth penalty goal for a DC 26-19 lead.
Gold used an attacking scrum for an apparent try by Tikoisuva, but an obstruction by Du Plessis allowed Old Glory to clear.
In this match, you can’t blink, as Gold attacked again, but a knock-on into contact resulted in an Old Glory scrum with 6 minutes remaining. Tusitala seemingly made a decision error to box kick and an offsides penalty gave the ball back to Gold to attack from a lineout. With the game on the line, Tikoisvua advanced the ball near in-goal and Juan Cappiello scored near the right corner giving Meyer a chance to tie the match with a conversion. No mistake and the match is tied at 26 all with three minutes remaining.
NOLA Gold claimed the restart and executed a clearance kick. Old Glory went through multiple phases, but Gold’s defense had DC losing ground. With a minute remaining on the clock, Old Glory attacked from a scrum inside their territory, but Roberts-TeNana went into touch. Gold attacked from a lineout, but a knock-on resulted in a 26 all draw.
NOLA Gold picked up a bonus point in the draw for 3 points, with Old Glory picking up 2 points for the draw. Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz was named Man of the Match.
The match had several players gaining their first MLR cap. This included starters Sam Cusano, Callum Gibbins from Old Glory, who was joined by James King, Jack Iscaro, Casey Renaud, and D’Montae Noble when they entered the match. NOLA Gold also had starter Andrew Guerra, Juan Cappiello, Jack Carroll, and Damian Stevens gaining their first caps as well. Sean Hartig did not enter the match and will need to wait for his MLR debut.
Fans and viewers were entertained with an exciting attacking rugby match. The halfback combination of Tusitalo and Robertson may be the best in the league for quick ball for Old Glory. NOLA Gold always is an attacking threat, but penalties, handling errors, and tactical choices, may have cost them a chance to win.
Next Saturday, NOLA Gold hosts Rugby United New York, while Old Glory DC has their home opener on Saturday against Rugby ATL.
Squads with Player Article Links
NOLA Gold: 1 Matt Harmon 2 Eric Howard 3 Dino Waldren 4 Kyle Baillie (c) 5 William Stewart 6 Devon Short 7 Andrew Guerra 8 Cam Dolan 9 Holden Yungert 10 Robbie Coleman 11 Julian Dominguez 12 Juan Cappiello 13 JP Du Plessis (VC) 14 Joeli Tikoisuva 15 Carl Meyer 16 Pat O’Toole 17 Kevin Sullivan 18 James Irey 19 Ignacio Dotti 20 Tesimoni Tongauiha 21 Damian Stevens 22 Ross Depperschmidt 23 Timothee Guillimin
Old Glory DC: 1 Jamie Dever 2 Mikey Sosene-Feagai 3 Steven Longwell 4 Tevita Naqali 5 Api Naikatini 6 Callum Gibbins 7 Mungo Mason (c) 8 Jamason Fa’anana Schultz 9 Danny Tusitala 10 Jason Robertson 11 Renata Roberts-TeNana12 Ciaran Hearn 13 Doug Fraser 14 Sam Cusano 15 Mike Dabulas 16 James King 17 17 Jack Iscaro 18 Jack Carroll 19 Casey Renaud 20 Luke Campbell 21 Sean Hartig 22 D’Montae Noble 23 Josh Brown