DC Playoff Hopes Dented as Old Glory Lose Again In Atlanta


Old Glory’s recent form went from bad to worse on Saturday afternoon, as a road trip to Atlanta resulted in a 35-27 defeat.

Coming into the match, we knew there was a lot on the line. Rugby ATL had an identical record to Old Glory and play to a similar level. With a difficult run of games ahead, a victory was crucial for preserving Old Glory’s postseason aspirations.

Despite the high stakes, Old Glory started slowly, struggling to maintain possession and making uncharacteristic mistakes. This may have been down to the weather conditions, where heavy rain made holding onto the ball difficult, but our hosts didn’t seem to mind, scoring through a smart set piece just four minutes into the match.

Old Glory very nearly responded straight from kickoff, recovering the kick before attacking the corner, but one offload too many saw the ball knocked on just one pass short of what would have been a game changing try. Atlanta began to take advantage of Old Glory mistakes, kicking two penalties and taking a 13-0 lead after a quarter of the match had been played.

Atlanta would extend their lead with flair just before the half hour mark, winning a scrum in the DC red zone and hitting out some strong attacking phases before full back Rewite Biddle spun a pass between his legs a la an American football center to find the wide man Waitokia, who scored to put Old Glory behind by a damning score of 20-0.

The discipline issues swung the other way following this try, however, as Atlanta saw two of their men sent to the sin bin, Johan Momsen for head-to-head contact as well as Biddle for intentionally putting the ball out of play to prevent Marcos Young from scoring.

Old Glory took full advantage of the two man advantage as Willy Talataina scored just before the halfway point, making the halftime scoreline 20-7 in favor of our hosts, but maybe taking a little of the venom out of head coach Josh Syms’ halftime speech.

Things didn’t get a huge amount better in the second period. Atlanta scored a third try of the game just three minutes after the break while Old Glory continued to make mistakes across the park.

This one evidently did not sit well with the OGs, who quickly responded with two impressive tries. The first came from Tusitala, with the wily scrum half taking a quick tap to run in alone from deep. Just minutes later, Tusitala influenced the play again, putting Atlanta on the back foot with a deft box kick and quickly moving the ball out wide to Marcos Young who dotted the ball down in the corner. This flurry of points scored put us back in contention, making the score 25-19 with half an hour remaining. Moments later, a penalty from Bowd made the score 25-22 and the comeback seemed to be mere inches away from completion.

The comeback hopes were shelved, though, as Atlanta responded with another set piece try, following it up a couple of minutes later with another penalty. Old Glory fought back, scoring another try moments before last play through super-sub Thretton Palamo, but it wasn’t enough. Old Glory lose for the third match in a row, taking our record for the season to 2-5.

So, what went wrong for Old Glory this time out? It might be quicker to ask what didn’t. The match was fraught with mistakes, from unforced handling errors to misplaced kicks. When the ever-reliable Tito Diaz Bonilla faltered this week, the team struggled to come up with a replacement for his tactical influence and points scoring, exposing what an apparent over-reliance on our star player.

Our set pieces struggled as well, as the Atlanta scrum forced ours into various mistakes and penalties, which looked to be as much a moral victory for our hosts as a physical one. The lineouts were no better, with one particularly jarring stat mentioned on the broadcast stating that after 65 minutes Old Glory had just 12% lineout success.

After a defeat such as this, though, it is important to look at the positives. Danny Tusitala was at his brilliant best, his creativity a driving force behind the Old Glory attack. Despite the scoreline, our defence put on a show at times, holding up multiple Atlanta try scoring attempts, and of course I must mention the debut of new signing Langilangi Haupeakui, who made a solid cameo in the match’s latter stages.

Next time out Old Glory will host Rugby New York at Segra Field in a bid to right the ship and get back to winning ways.

-by Arthur Ferridge, @rthur_ferridge

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