Credit: Craig Bordeaux

Old Glory DC Falters Out of the Gate in First MLR Test versus NOLA Gold

In its first professional test, Old Glory DC was welcomed to Major League Rugby with a 46-13 loss at the hands of NOLA Gold at the Shrine at Airline in Metairie, La.  While OGDC flashed its potential, the match was reminiscent of the first half against Rugby ATL in its last preseason game. With many of Old Glory’s forwards out, NOLA dominated the set piece and possession as OGDC could not establish a secure platform.  Head coach Andrew Douglas hopes to have a full squad available in seven days when Old Glory hosts the defending MLR Champions, the Seattle Seawolves, for its home opener at Cardinal Stadium at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

With multiple players either injured or not available, especially in the front row, the set piece struggled.  Tendai Mtawarira, Mikey Sosene-Feagai, Jack Iscaro, Mo Katz, and Josh Brown were missing in the forward pack, and OGDC’s depth was severely tested.  The backline was mostly intact with only Declan O’Donnell out with the flu.  NOLA won the scrum battle all game and forced Old Glory to play defense for most of the match. When OGDC did get possession, penalties thwarted any sustained offense.

OGDC was very opportunistic in glimpses and scored two tries via cross-field chip kicks to the open wing.  There is plenty to build from this match, and the Old Glory faithful hope to see its brilliance on the pitch on Sunday versus the Seawolves.

To start Old Glory’s inaugural season, captains Mungo Mason and Thretton Palamo led their squad onto the field.  Decked out its blue uniforms and its opponent in white and gold, OGDC kicked off and the teams began the match battling for field position.  The squads felt each other out in the early stages, which included NOLA’s scrum asserting itself forcefully.  OGDC’s defense performed admirably, but NOLA worked itself into scoring position with a series of five-meter lineouts. Back-to-back maul penalties resulted in a scrum just outside the goal line and NOLA walked it forward. The scrum turned to the left and the Gold’s bruising #8 Cam Dolan bulldozed in for the try. Outside center Carl Meyer connected on the conversion for the 7-0 lead.

NOLA kept getting the best of DC as Old Glory’s set piece woes continued. OGDC looked to have its first break when Ciaran Hearn intercepted a pass in the backline, but the momentum was stopped short with an obstruction penalty.  Things got worse for OGDC after the hydration break when prop Gordon Fullerton was binned for coming in from the side.  NOLA scrumhalf Holden Yungert left the field with an injury on the play, and on the ensuing five-meter scrum, Dolan picked the ball to the goal line.  The Gold secured the ruck and Malcolm May finished it with the score.  Meyer tacked on extras extending the lead to 14-0 after 23 minutes.

Off the restart, NOLA kicked to touch, giving Old Glory a lineout at the 40.  DC set up its offense and played with advantage for five phases.  The referee eventually blew up the play and May was yellow carded for not wrapping in the tackle.  OGDC decided to go for points and 25 minutes into the match, flyhalf Jason Robertson’s penalty attempt sailed through the uprights for Old Glory’s first MLR points.

It was 14 on 14 rugby after the restart, and OGDC had the momentum. On a counterattack, Renata Roberts-Te Nana chipped it forward and Danny Tusitala recovered it down the sideline. Roberts-Te Nana got the offload and Jake Turnbull took the switch to the ten.  A Gold penalty set up a five-meter lineout and after a maul, Tusitala kicked the ball across the field to an open Doug Fraser, who dotted it down for Old Glory’s first-ever try.  Robertson missed the conversion but OGDC narrowed the gap to 14-8 with 11 minutes in the half.

OGDC was back to full strength after the kickoff, but NOLA used an overload to move inside the 22.  Sustained pressure by Julián Domínguez, Eric Howard, and Dolan sucked the Old Glory defense inside and a skip pass to Moni Tongauiha allowed the Gold to score a shorthanded try in the corner.  Meyer’s subsequent attempt was wide and NOLA led 19-8.

NOLA grabbed ahold of the possession after the kickoff and moved downfield on a series of pop passes along the sideline.  After an OGDC penalty following a big hit from Hearn, another penalty on the scrum set up Meyer for a penalty at the 22.  The PK was true and the Gold went into halftime up 22-8.

Both teams attempted to make halftime adjustments, but it was NOLA who struck first.  Meyer took Old Glory’s clearance kick, broke a tackle to inside the ten, and passed to Scott Gale in support.  The pass out wide looked to be picked off by Roberts-Te Nana, but NOLA recovered the ball.  It was passed to Tongauiha, who juked his way through traffic for the try.

It didn’t get better for OGDC as the Gold found itself inside the 22 again, and following a series of penalties and scrums, Dolan scored his second try off an eightman pick.  Following the kickoff, OGDC attempted to run its offense, but a knock halted its progress.  After the scrum, Robbie Coleman kicked the ball to the sideline with Domínguez in hot pursuit.  The Argentinian wing outhustled the defense to the ball before it went into touch, broke two tackles, and raced in for his team’s fifth try.  The conversion failed, but NOLA increased its lead to 41-8.

Old Glory received some good luck with another NOLA yellow card, but it was unable to use it to its advantage.  The backs flashed their playmaking abilities; however, the set piece halted any momentum.  After the penalty on the fifteenth scrum, OGDC was backed deep in its end.  Old Glory looked to have stolen the Gold’s ten-meter lineout, but the hooker couldn’t corral the loose ball.  Dolan snatched it and with a spin move, the big #8 dove in for the hat trick and NOLA’s 46th point.

With less than ten minutes left, OGDC showed it still had life left. Following a clearance kick, Old Glory took the lineout and displayed its potential.  A backline play sent reserve Mike Dabulas streaking into the 22 and quick ball moved the pill across the pitch.  Stretching the field, Tusitala passed to Dylan Taikato-Simpson who chipped over the Gold defense into the waiting hands of Dabulas for the try in the corner.  Robertson missed the conversion and the game ended soon after, 46-13.

 

Old Glory DC

  1. Jake Turnball, 2. Max Lum, 3. Gordon Fullerton, 4. Tevita Naqali, 5. Api Naikatini, 6. Travis Larsen, 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. Doug Fraser, 15. Dylan Taikato-Simpson, 16. Dante Lopresti, 17. Khalid Williams, 18. Will Vakalahi, 19. Jack McLean, 20. Matt Hughston, 21. Michael Reid, 22. Mike Dabulas, 23. Dylan Pieterse.

 

Tries: Fraser (30’) and Dabulas (79’)

Conversions: Robertson 0/2

Penalties: Robertson 1/1 (25’)

 

NOLA Gold

 

  1. Matt Harmon, 2. Eric Howard, 3. Dino Waldren, 4. Ignacio Dotti, 5. Kyle Baillie, 6. Moni Tongauiha, 7. Malcolm May, 8. Cam Dolan, 9. Holden Yungert, 10. Scott Gale, 11. Julián Domínguez, 12. Con Foley, 13. Carl Meyer, 14. Tim Maupin, 15. Robbie Coleman, 16. Lindsey Stevens, 17. Kevin Sullivan, 18. Ben Tarr, 19. Nikola Bursic, 20. Billy Stewart, 21. Kevin O’Connor, 22. Ross Depperschmidt, 23. Shawn Riley.

 

Tries: Dolan (12’, 53’, 70’), May (23’), Tongauiha (35’, 41’), Domínguez (57’)

Conversions: Meyer 4/7

Penalties: Meyer 1/1 (40’)

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