NOLA Gold edged the New England Free Jacks 30-29 on Saturday, April 17 at the Gold Mine on Airline. The match was broadcast on Cox Sports Network, NESN, and streamed on The Rugby Network.
NOLA Gold’s record improved to 2-1-1 and has 14 points in the Eastern Conference standings. New England’
NOLA Gold in fourth place in the MLR Eastern Conference with a 1-1-1 record and 9 points in the standings, while the Free Jacks are in third place with a 2-1 record and 9 points. Both Rugby ATL and Rugby United New York have 10 points in the close conference race.
Prior to the match, Eric Howard was a late scratch, with Pat O’Toole starting at hooker and Kevin O’Connor into the roster at #16.
The match began with water on the pitch from the rain, which created handling errors for both sides in the match. The teams tried to kick for territory, as well as to create handling errors deep inside their opponent’s territory.
NOLA Gold struck first following an offsides penalty with Carl Meyer slotting a kick for a 3-0 lead.
Beaudein Waaka chased down a Gold kick and knocked the ball through the dead ball line for a penalty to Gold. NOLA mauled from a lineout 5-meters from in-goal with Moni Tonga’uiha scoring in the left corner with the Meyer kick from touch unsuccessful, 8-0.
The Free Jacks answered back after a lineout deep inside Gold’s territory with John Poland offloading to Harrison Boyle, who skipped passed to Mitch Wilson for a try in the right corner, 8-5.
A Free jacks’ penalty had Meyer sending a booming kick from midfield over the posts with room to spare, 11-5.
The Free jacks struck back with a Harrison Boyle offload inside to Dougie Fife for a try, and with Waaka’s conversion, took a 12-11 lead.
NOLA Gold’s Julian Dominguez fended Poasa Waqanibau on the left wide channel and motored in for a try, with Meyer adding the extras to reclaim the lead, 18-12.
In this seesaw battle, Waaka was tackled 5-meters from in-goal, but the play was stopped with the referee conferring with an Assistant. He ruled that Jackson Thiebes lifted a Gold player and brought him to the ground. The resulting penalty nullified a potential new England score and allowed NOLA Gold to take an 18-12 lead into the break.
The Free jacks scored quickly in the second half after Billy Stewart was penalized for being a lazy runner and being hit by a Poland outlet pass. The Free Jacks mauled with John Poland snatching the ball and scoring a try, with Waaka converting to lead 19-18.
NOLA Gold came right back with an offload from Jojo Tikoisuva to JP Du Plessis who apparently grounded the ball in the right corner prior to going into touch, 23-19. An Assistant referee was right there to aid in the call.
In the 50th minute, Conor Kindregan suffered an apparent knee injury and was replaced by Ronan McCusker. It is hoped that the injury is not a serious one.
The Free Jacks placed NOLA Gold under pressure with Sef Fa’gase held up in-goal. This resulted in a 5-meter scrum with the Free jacks moving the ball left for a second Dougie Fife try, to lead 24-23.
Gold answered back in the 69th minute with Cam Dolan breaking close to in-goal and Kevin Sullivan finishing with a try under the posts, 30-24.
Three minutes later, a Harrison Boyle offload to Harry Barlow, resulted in a try in the right corner, giving Beaudein an opportunity to reclaim the lead with a successful conversion. The difficult kick was wide and NOLA Gold held off the Free Jacks for a 30-29 win.
NOLA Gold picked up a bonus point and has a 2-1-1 record with 14 points in the standings. New England picked up 2 bonus points in the loss and have a 2-2 record with 11 points.
Next Saturday NOLA Gold travels to Marietta, Georgia for a rivalry match with Rugby ATL. New England plays at Leesburg, Virginia against Old Glory DC.
Squads With Player Article Links & Match Preview
NOLA Gold: 1 Matt Harmon 2 Eric Howard 3 Dino Waldren 4 Ignacio Dotti 5 Billy Stewart 6 Tesimoni Tongauiha 7 Devon Short 8 Cam Dolan 9 Damian Stevens 10 Timothee Guillimin 11 Julian Dominguez 12 Juan Cappiello 13 JP Du Plessis (C) 14 Joeli Tikoisuva 15 Carl Meyer 16 Pat O’Toole 17 Kevin Sullivan 18 James Irey 19 Nikola Bursic 20 Andrew Guerra 21 Holden Yungert 22 Hanno Dirksen 23 Tim Maupin
New England Free Jacks: 1 Sef Fa’gase 2 Pieter Jansen 3 Erich de Jager 4 Jackson Thiebes 5 Conor Kindregan 6 Josh Larsen (c) 7 Justin Johnson 8 Wian Conradie 9 John Poland 10 Harrison Boyle 11 Mitch Wilson 12 Aleki Morris Lome 13 Poasa Waqanibau 14 Dougie Fife 15 Beaudein Waaka (VC) 16 Vili Toluta’u 17 Kensuke Hatakeyama 18 Quentin Newcomer 19 Ronan McCusker 20 Tera Mtembu 21 Tom Brusati 22 Harry Barlow 23 Danny Collins