Old Glory DC’s Late Try Stifles Austin’s Comeback Bid

After a furious comeback attempt in the second half, Old Glory DC sealed its third straight win with a late try for a 28-19 road victory over the Austin Gilgronis. At Toyota Field in San Antonio, Texas, OGDC led 23-7 at the half, but the Gilgronis took the momentum scoring a pair of tries to narrow the gap to four points. Determined to cement to the win, Renata Roberts-Te Nana scored in the corner to drive the final nail in Austin’s coffin in the 80th minute. With the triumph, the Cuisine Solutions Cup is coming home to the District and the Old Glory faithful will be ready to represent at home next weekend.

Saturday was Old Glory’s second trip to Texas in as many weeks and it left the Lone Star State with the same result: a notch in the win column. OGDC capitalized on AG’s mistakes and took points almost every trip into 22 in the first half. Old Glory had a game plan to get points early, use the strong wind behind them and pressurize Austin into errors and penalties. DC ultimately had a couple of opportunities to kill the game early in the second half but didn’t manage until late. The overall outlook is that this team is improving every week and will bring a 3-1 record home to Cardinal Stadium on Sunday to face Rugby ATL.

Austin played catch-up almost immediately and chased DC from early on. The Gilgronis have shown they have the horses to succeed, it’s just a matter of putting together an 80-minute game.

The OG backline continues to be dangerous in attack and efficient in defense. Danny Tusitala’s vision and quickness are only rivaled by his partner-in-crime Jason Robertson’s abilities with the boot. Thretton Palamo was a tackling machine, Ciaran Hearn was a vital cog in the back line, Declan O’Donnell’s speed and step was dynamic, and Doug Fraser, Roberts-Te Nana, and Dylan Taikato-Simpson were excellent covering their back 3 duties.

In the forwards, Mikey Sosene-Feagai, sporting some fancy goggles, made an impact in his first game back from injury and Mungo Mason continued his stellar play on both sides of the ball. Eightman Jamason Fa’Anana-Schultz’s motor was non-stop all game long and was instrumental in the team’s second try.

The ball found itself in the hands of the men in blue to begin the match. After exchanging kicks to start, the Gilgronis, dressed in white and orange camo, were a pass away from scoring in the opening minutes but the DC defense was able to recover. The sides played within the 22s until Austin was called for not rolling away just outside the 40. Robertson didn’t waste time for his first chance at points and booted the ball through the uprights for the game’s initial 3-0 score.

Austin couldn’t get out of its own half in the early stages of the match with a combination of penalties and turnovers. After a poach from Tusitala, Old Glory sent the ball wide and Hearn deftly grubbed it ahead. O’Donnell outraced his counterpart to collect the ball and, with clear air in front of him, the Kiwi wing popped to the man who started it all. Tusitala touched it down under the posts and Robertson converted the extras for 10-0 OGDC lead after eight minutes.

The line speed for Old Glory continued to impress with the defense hitting the Gilgronis behind the gain line and often pushing them further back. The new front row trio of Jake Turnbull, Sosene-Feagai, and Will Vakalahi were much improved against an Austin’s scrum with quite a considerable size advantage.

Using quick ball on offense, Old Glory camped out in Austin’s half. Following a scrum penalty, DC had the five-meter lineout, but an errant throw allowed the Gilgronis to clear. OGDC got the ball back after a penalty and found itself with a lineout at the 22 following the first hydration break. DC set up a driving maul and the forwards slowly moved it closer until the AGs were sloppy at the breakdown. Penalized for not rolling away, Robertson brought out the tee and made it 13-0.

Off the ensuing kickoff, it was champagne rugby for the road warriors. Sosene-Feagai started the breakout and offloaded to Tevita Naqali then to Tusitala. The scrumhalf was tackled but not held and skipped it out to Fa’Anana-Schultz who tipped it to Palamo. The outside center whipped it to Fraser who cut back inside for the try. Robertson nailed the conversion and OGDC had the 20-0 advantage with 15 minutes in the half.

Austin reset itself and ground out the hard meters into Old Glory’s territory. The Gilgronis maintained possession into the 22 but the defense brought the wood and speed. A series of penalties kept the AGs deep and after a ten-meter lineout, the home squad mauled it to the doorstep. The DC defense held up the ball in the dead ball area and on the subsequent scrum, a tackle by Travis Larsen saved a try by Lino Saunitoga. Austin sent everything they had at the line and got held up again under the posts. Vakalahi was binned soon after for repeated infringement and on the ensuing five-meter scrum, the referee awarded Austin a penalty try to break the goose egg, 20-7.

With the clock reading past 40 minutes, Old Glory didn’t settle for the 13-point lead. A high tackle allowed Robertson to line up his third attempt at the posts. The New Zealander split the uprights and the referee signaled the end of the half with DC up 23-7.

Austin had a reality check at the break and came out re-energized to start the second half. The Gilgronis got it to just inside the 22 but a DC steal flipped the field. A brilliant offload from Api Naikatini sent Robertson threw a gap and Tusitala raced to the ten. The Austin defense batted down the pass wide and cleared it out of the zone.  Back to full strength, Old Glory drove towards the try line again but Fa’Anana-Schultz’s carry was punched out.

Both defenses stood tall, but Austin increased its vigor playing with more intensity and immediacy. After a not releasing penalty, the Gilgronis mauled ten meters to the corner where Tiaan Erasmus dotted it down. The kick from the sideline was perfect and Austin cut the deficit to nine with 25 minutes to go.

With the momentum, Austin kept pounding with the rock. Old Glory allowed its opponent to maintain possession with needless errors and penalties, but the defense limited its impact. Just before the final hydration stoppage, DC was driving but the Gilgroni defensive front would not yield. After seven minutes of sustained pressure and two held balls, Austin’s scrum produced the steal and Zinzan Elan-Puttick kicked the ball into touch.

Following a scrum infraction and lineout, the Gilgronis rumbled into the DC 22. Inspired by its intensity on the other end, Austin played with advantage and spun it wide to Frank Halai. “The Tank” bobbled the ball along the sideline and fought through a pair of would-be tacklers for the dive try. Torrealba was wide with the conversion; however, the home team was only down by four with six minutes left.

Old Glory collected the kickoff, but Austin’s Rodrick Waters delivered a big hit to Fraser drawing a penalty and hoots and hollers from the crowd. The AGs’ possession was short-lived following a knock on and Fa’Anana-Schultz broke loose on the set piece. DC moved the ball quickly but Austin cleared following a steal. The kick didn’t find touch and on the tenth phase of the counterattack, it was more champagne rugby from the boys in blue. Taikato-Simpson whipped it behind his back to Robertson who passed to a streaking Renata Te-Nana for the try in the corner. The flyhalf took his time on the extras but the conversion was just wide.

With a minute left, Austin made one final push towards a try bonus but failed as the game ended with a tackle into touch. Old Glory DC prevailed for its third victory, 28-19.

 

Old Glory DC

 

  1. Jake Turnbull, 2. Mikey Sosene-Feagai, 3. Will Vakalahi, 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. Doug Fraser, 12. Ciaran Hearn, 13. Thretton Palamo (CC), 14. Declan O’Donnell, 15. Dylan Taikato-Simpson, 16. Dante Lopresti, 17. Max Lum, 18. Gordon Fullerton, 19 Dylan Pieterse, 20. Matt Hughston, 21. Michael Reid, 22. Mike Dabulas, 23. Renata Roberts-Te Nana.

 

Tries – Tusitala (8′), Fraser (24′), Roberts-Te Nana (78′)
Cons – Robertson 2/3 (9′, 25′)
Pens – Robertson 3/3 (4′, 22′, 40′)
Yellow cards – Vakalahi (37′)

 

Austin Gilgronis

 

  1. Jamie Mackintosh, 2. Tiaan Erasmus, 3. Mason Pedersen, 4. Potu Leavasa, 5. Maikeli Mudu, 6. Dominic Akina, 7. Moe Abdelmonem, 8. Lino Saunitoga, 9. Marcelo Torrealba, 10. Zinzan Elan-Puttick (C), 11. Rodrick Waters, 12. Gabe Farley, 13. Frank Halai, 14. Corey Jones, 15. Rodrigo Silva, 16. Brendan Rams, 17. LaRome White, 18. Juan Echeverría, 19. Luca Tani, 20. Stewart Morris, 21. Colby Stevens, 22. Sione Fangaiuiha, 23. Peni Tagive.

 

Tries – Penalty Try (39′), Erasmus (54′), Halai (72′)
Cons – Torrealba 1/2 (55′)

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