By Chris Wyatt, Rugby Ascendant
A heartbreaking last second loss in Utah last week where Old Glory DC fell to the Utah Warriors 34-33 was a tough pill to swallow, particularly after such an inspired performance and the long journey to the Beehive State. But this past weekend DC was at home, in front of a pandemic constrained but incredibly supportive crowd and taking on a struggling Seattle Seawolves team which has been decimated by injuries. The result was Old Glory coming out on top in an exciting 22-18 game at Segra Field in Leesburg, Virginia with four players earning a spot on the MLR Geico top 15 performers of the week list.
Old Glory’s hooker Michelango Sosene-Fegai, tighthead prop Steven Longwell and Man of the Match left wing Renata Roberts-Tenana each made the list for DC with outstanding performances all around. Sosene-Fegai scored a try on six carries for 26 meters and made six tackles. Longwell picked up 37 meters on four carries with an even dozen tackles and a steal. But it was Roberts-Tenana who stole the show with dynamic and creative play, breaking through the Seawolves defenses, picking up 94 meters on eight carries, with an impressive try and setting up others. Seattle’s right wing Ross Neal proved more than a handful for Old Glory with 129 meters on 12 carries, earning a spot on the Geico list.
The Seawolves got themselves an early lead with a converted try, going up seven to nil. The game swung back and forth from the 18th to the 28th minute with both sides trading points. It began with OG’s Roberts-Tenana scoring to close the gap to 7-5 in the 17thminute, with the conversion missed. Seattle converted a penalty to go in front 10-5 in the 23rd minute, only to see OG’s Sosene-Fegai cross the line and score a try in the 24th minute and Old Glory tie the game up (conversion missed again). The Seawolves tookadvantage of another OG penalty to go back in front 13-10 in the 28th minute. The seesaw ended here whenSeattle scored again on a beautiful Ross Neal try in the 32nd minute to extend their lead to 18-10 (conversion missed).
It looked as though the half would end with DC kept off the scoreboard for most of the second quarter of the game until, in extra time, Old Glory scored a try in the 41st minute. OG captain Thretton Palamo scored a try after a brilliant build up and a nice breakthrough by the scrum half moved OG up the field where beautiful offloads got them into a good position. Here their patience paid off as the ball worked its way back and forth, Old Glory searching for an opening. Then anexcellent chip kick over the top nicely caught in the air by an OG player, fed back to the middle of the field. From there Palamo bulled down the pitch and slid in for the try. The DC coaching staff had to be happy with their squad’s performance late in the first half in coming back to narrow the gap to just 18-17 at the half after a good ten minutes when it seemed OG was going nowhere.
The home side scored the only points in the second half, taking their first lead 22-18 with a try. In the 72ndminute Seattle was in the middle of the field in what appeared to be a makable penalty conversion which would have closed the gap to a point, but chose to kick to touch. The Seawolves later turned the ball over and never did score again. Legendary Namibian national star and Seattle forwards coach Kees Lensing said of the game “we started well, the guys came out of the changing room and were really focused, we had a good plan. We definitely had more than a couple of opportunities but put ourselves in a bad spot.” When asked if injuries affected the Seawolves game plan, Lensing said it was a factor. But he and the Seattle coaching staff remain optimistic for the second half of the season as they return home next week to face Eastern Conference frontrunner Rugby ATL.
The much needed win lifts Old Glory in the points log where, in spite of a 3-4-1 record, OG is just a single victory from second place, trailing log leader Rugby ATL by six points and second place Rugby United New York by four points. At the halfway point, DC remains very much in the Eastern Conference race to the playoffs. Next Old Glory travels to Houston to face the 2-6-0 SaberCats.