Old Glory Finishes 2021 with Cuisine Solutions Cup Victory over Austin
By Evan Lappen
With a storm brewing in the distance, Old Glory DC ended its 2021 MLR campaign with a 29-25 victory over the Austin Gilgronis on Saturday at Segra Field. It took the full 80 minutes of rugby and a try-saving tackle in stoppage time for DC to retain the Cuisine Solutions Cup. Old Glory showed its potential and displayed glimpses of what could have been as the team finished the season on a two-game winning streak.
“It showed what we can do,” head coach Andrew Douglas said. “Austin is a very good team, and they were pretty unlucky last weekend to lose that game to LA. At times, they showed how good they are and were probably deflated from last weekend’s result. We were very good in patches and went flat off the ball. That’s been the story of our year and let Austin back into the game. Thankfully, we stuck with it and got the result.”
In the first half, Old Glory took advantage of a pair of Austin yellow cards to build a 24-15 lead with fast and loose rugby. After scoring an opportunistic try to start the second half, the OG’s let a continuation of penalties and sloppy play allow the Gilgronis back into the game. With DC up by four points in the waning moments of the match, a potentially game-winning Austin breakaway was thwarted by a superb tackle from Jason Robertson to end the game.
Robertson summed up the experience saying it was “pure agony, but we got the job done in the end. The never say die attitude, and we never gave up. The manner it finished summed up our attitude in the back end of the season. It hasn’t been easy, but we stuck it in. It’s good to get the result in the last two weeks.”
Coach Douglas applauded his team’s effort. “Jason was great today… When he needed to, he fronted and was very good. The tight five did a really good job, and Renata [Roberts Te-Nana] works really hard… They all bought in, and no one had a bad game. Jack Iscaro was good for a long time today, and he did it without complaint at all. They all put their hand up.”
The game began with a quick succession of scores that set the tempo early. As Old Glory made one of its first forays into enemy territory, an errant pass was scooped up by Dom Akina for the 55-meter try. Austin looked to capitalize off the restart, but a turnover by Danny Tusitala had OGDC off to the races. Roberts-Te Nana sprinted down the sideline and passed back inside to Robertson for the try. The Kiwi flyhalf tied the game with the conversion after five minutes of action.
The intensity remained high, and Austin broke the stalemate soon after. Old Glory was penalized on their own scrum put-in giving the AGs an attacking lineout. Following a well-placed kick to touch, the Gilgronis mauled in the five-meter lineout for a Mack Mason try. The lead didn’t remain at five points for long as Robertson added a penalty cut the score to 12-10.
With neither team gaining much traction, discipline issues arose for both clubs. The referee had enough in the 23rd minute as Austin’s David Still was yellow-carded for not retreating ten meters on the penalty. An initial onslaught at the line was turned away, but a second attempt found the whitewash. Following a ten-meter lineout, the forwards attracted the interior of the defense before Robertson skipped the ball wide to the wing. D’Montae Noble was all alone on the sideline for his fifth try of the season.
Austin responded with a recovery off the restart and then decided to go for points when OGDC was penalized in front of the posts. Mason’s kick was good, and the score stood at 17-15 after 32 minutes.
Old Glory got back on the front foot with a short lineout to Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz and a pass back to Mikey Sosene-Feagai. The AGs couldn’t get out of their own way and were hit with multiple penalties, which resulted in Michael de Waal being binned for repeated infringement. On the subsequent five-meter scrum, Austin was penalized again, and the referee awarded the penalty try. With the automatic seven-pointer, DC led at halftime 24-15.
DC opened the second half with Mungo Mason reliving his childhood playing soccer. Two kicks at the loose ball saw the co-captain chasing down the pill for the try. After missing the conversion, Robertson attempted to push the lead to 17 points with a penalty in the 49th minute, but the kick was off target.
The game slowed down as penalties and scrum after scrum brought the match to a lull. Following an offsides infraction, Austin took advantage of the defense not being set. On the quick tap, Will Magie kicked across the field to a wide-open Rodrick Waters for the try.
The teams went back and forth until the final five minutes of the match. Needing more than a try to win, Austin kicked a penalty in the 78th minute to slash the lead to four points.
With time winding down, the AGs kept the ball in hand, and after a series of offloads, a streaking Akina found daylight near the sideline. The flanker looked to have a step on the defense, but a shoestring tackle from Robertson saved the game-winning try. Tempers flared after the play, but the referee ended the match, 29-25.
Although the season didn’t end with a trip to the postseason, there is plenty to be hopeful for. “We’re going to be back bigger and better than ever,” co-owner Chris Dunleavey said. “If we could get through this year with all the challenges of COVID, a new venue, and the league interrupting the season, it’s all up from here… We couldn’t be more excited for what comes next.”