Under the lights at AVEVA Stadium in Houston, Texas, Old Glory DC extended its winning streak to two games with a 22-13 road win against the Houston SaberCats. OGDC’s defense came up massively, holding its opponent scoreless for the final 50 minutes of the match, and the offense relied on the steadfast right foot of its Kiwi sniper Jason Robertson for five penalties. Old Glory will hope its Texas success continues when it returns to the Lone Star State on Saturday for a date at the Austin Gilgronis.
Continuity and sustained possession were hard to come by as penalties and sloppy play made the action disjointed and choppy. Old Glory’s scrum issues persisted throughout the match, but its stellar defense made up for any such challenges. DC took advantage of Houston’s penalty trouble and went for points at every opportunity.
The defense limited Houston’s big play ability and bottled up the effectiveness of the SaberCats’ weapons in De Wet Roos and Sam Windsor. Douglas used his bench smartly, bringing in fresh replacements early and at important times.
The stats showed the stop/start nature of the test as a total of 29 penalties were called with Old Glory incurring 15 to the SaberCats’ 14. In the resulting set piece, OGDC won 80% on its scrums and 78% of its lineouts. The teams split the percentage of territory and Houston maintained possession 55% of the time as opposed to DC’s 45%. Old Glory’s performance was highlighted in the following areas: DC outgained Houston 501 meters to 464, out-kicked 410 meters to 378, and out-tackled 126 to 109.
Danny Tusitala and Robertson both deserved game balls with their play. Tusitala played tenacious defense with 11 tackles and helped to keep the shape of the OG offensive attack. As for Robertson, his kicking ability from the tee and in the loose (eight kicks for 219 meters) were match-winners for his club. He was also second on the team in tackles (13) and second in meters gained with 61.
Danny Tusitala and Robertson both deserved game balls with their play. Tusitala played tenacious defense and helped to keep the shape of the OG offensive attack. As for Robertson, his kicking ability from the tee and in the loose were lifesavers for his club.
After feeling each other out to start the match, Old Glory was first to put points on the board after eight minutes of action. Houston was pinged for a not rolling away infraction off the set piece, and Robertson lined up the kick. From about 25 meters, the flyhalf’s shot was good, and DC led 3-0 after eight minutes.
After the restart, OGDC cleared, giving the SaberCats a lineout outside the 22. After the forwards crashed the line, Sam Windsor sent a grubber through. Though DC initially made the pickup, a turnover gave it back to Houston. The SaberCats forwards rumbled it into the five, and Loots finished for the try under the posts. Windsor tacked on the extras, and the SaberCats led 7-3.
Following a knock deep in Houston’s half, Old Glory executed a successful scrum, and Robertson set up for his second penalty after a call for not releasing. Right in front of the posts, he split the uprights to cut the deficit to one point at 7-6, with 25 minutes left in the half.
With the SaberCats on the attack, good fortune saw Renata Roberts-Te Nana pick off Houston’s attempt to get the ball wide. Following a kick, the SaberCats knocked it on again, and play was paused for the first hydration break. A skip pass to Roberts-Te Nana found daylight down the sideline, and Ciaran Hearn’s kick to space was grabbed by the Houston wing into touch. OGDC’s lineout at the ten was mauled and spun to the weak side, where Mungo Mason dotted it down with the help of his friends. Robertson’s conversion from the sideline just made it over the crossbar, and DC regained the lead at 13-7.
Houston’s kickoff sailed into touch, giving Old Glory the scrum center. DC was penalized and the SaberCats’ free kick landed out of bounds at the 22. A high tackle from Robertson stopped Houston’s advance, but Windsor elected to go for points. His boot was true, and the home team trailed by three at 13-10 with 15 minutes to go in the half.
Old Glory recovered the restart, but gave it away on a penalty. The SaberCats continued to cause problems for DC in the scrum, and Windsor’s kick had his team with a lineout at the 22. The ensuing maul was collapsed by OGDC, and Windsor went for the easy points. With the flags raised, it was tied up at 13 all after 30 minutes.
Penalties and handling errors littered the final ten minutes of the first period. The half almost ended with Fa’Anana-Schultz scoring a try off a lineout maul, but the referee penalized DC for obstruction. Houston kicked the ball into touch to end the period.
Old Glory made its first substitution coming out of the break, with Jake Turnball relieving Tendai Mtawarira at loosehead. Houston kicked off to start the second half, and teams exchanged possession. Quick ball and nifty offloading allowed OGDC to slip into enemy territory. The SaberCats committed a ruck penalty, and Robertson slotted his third penalty off the upright for the 16-13 lead.
Possession bounced back and forth, and play was stopped as the SaberCats were called for diving over. At almost midfield, Robertson tested his range with his most ambitious kick of the match. The kick had the distance but clanged off the upright and the crossbar.
More subs came in for both sides as the squads battled for field position. Following a scrum penalty, Houston looked to have jumpstarted its offense, as Loots and Kieran Farmer burst into the 22. Eightman Diego Magno stomped closer towards the line, and De Wet Roos directed traffic at the five. The DC defense was there at every move, and Max Lum poached the ball in the breakdown. Robertson cleared, but on the counterattack, Thomas Morani broke the line and Roberts-Te Nana was yellow carded for some extras after the play.
Houston’s time with the man advantage didn’t begin as well as they might have expected, as Old Glory played with renewed confidence. OGDC starved the SaberCats of possession in their half and methodically worked itself through phases inside the 22. After a coming in from the side penalty in front of the posts, tempers began to flare. Following a discussion between the referee and the captains, Robertson slotted his fourth penalty to increase the lead to 19-13.
With less than ten minutes left, OGDC stifled Houston’s offense. Repeated infringements by the SaberCats sent Magno off with a yellow card, and Robertson lined up his sixth attempt at the sticks. From 45 meters out, he nailed the kick for a 22-13 Old Glory advantage.
Houston’s last-ditch effort failed off the restart when the ball was thrown into touch. Old Glory’s lineout was caught cleanly and booted out of bounds for the victory.
Old Glory DC
- Tendai Mtawarira, 2. Dante Lopresti, 3. Gordon Fullerton, 4. Tevita Naqali, 5. Dylan Pieterse, 6. Matt Hughston, 7. Mungo Mason (CC), 8. Jamason Fa’Anana-Schultz, 9. Danny Tusitala, 10. Jason Robertson, 11. Renata Roberts-Te Nana, 12. Ciaran Hearn, 13. Thretton Palamo (CC), 14. Declan O’Donnell, 15. Dylan Taikato-Simpson, 16. Max Lum, 17. Jake Turnball, 18. Will Vakalahi, 19. Travis Larsen, 20. Josh Brown, 21. Michael Reid, 22. Mike Dabulas, 23. Doug Fraser.
Tries: Mason (21’)
Conversions: Robertson 1/1 (22’)
Penalties: Robertson 5/6 (8’, 14’, 42’, 71’, 78’)
- Nicolas Solveyra, 2. Diego Fortuny, 3. Charles Connolly, 4. Kyle Breytenbach, 5. Rob Meeson, 6. Luke Beauchamp, 7. Cecil Garber, 8. Diego Magno, 9. De Wet Roos (C), 10. Sam Windsor, 11. Malacchi Esdale, 12. Tiaan Loots, 13. Thomas Morani, 24. Kieran Farmer, 15. Osea Kolinisau, 16. Tim Cadwallader, 17. Valdemar Lee-Lo, 18. Boyd Wiggins, 19. Victor Comptat, 20. Adriaan Booysen, 21. Zachary Short, 22. Taylor Howden, 23. Tim Stanfill.
Tries: Loots (10’)
Conversions: Windsor 1/1 (11’)
Penalties: Windsor 2/2 (25’, 29’)