Old Glory perfect home record falters in heart breaking NOLA defeat


Old Glory’s unbeaten home record in 2023 came to an end on Saturday at the hands of NOLA Gold in what was an incredibly dramatic match that had knees bouncing and palms sweating right into the final seconds.

The first half was defined by a player who has been at the centre of the Old Glory conversation all season long, and I doubt anyone will be surprised to see his name mentioned here again. Tito Diaz Bonilla, as per usual, was all everywhere, opening the scoring with a penalty kick just three minutes after kick-off. 

He followed that first penalty up with three others over the course of the opening stanza, scoring all Old Glory’s points as we took a 12-3 lead into halftime.

That is not to say that we went without try-scoring chances, however. The offence was firing on all cylinders in the opening stages but couldn’t quite make their way over the line.

Both teams were perhaps hampered by the weather, with some pre-match rain making for a slippery ball and difficult handling. NOLA struggled with this as well, having very little joy on offense for the duration of the first half. A notable exception, of course, was their 20th minute try. Danny Tusitala put up a towering box kick, which was caught coolly by NOLA’s Iona, who took the ball in stride, breaking the line and making up some impressive ground. He offloaded to the right, where Hodgson bobbled and very nearly dropped the ball before it was recovered by Du Pleiss, who slid in for the try.


Old Glory came close to responding just 15 minutes later as Marcos Young and Mile Dabulas combined on the left wing for what would have been a sweet attacking move, but the full back was unfortunately held up in what eventually proved to be our best scoring chance of the half.

Old Glory’s defence in the first half was as solid as ever, recording an unbelievable 63 tackles in the first half, but it was NOLA’s defence to take centre stage in the second period. Our guests grew into the game in a big way in the second period, bringing out an energetic attack which was totally absent in the first half and matching it with world class defending.


The hosts entered the red zone and came away empty handed on several occasions in the second half, with NOLA exhibiting goal line security for the ages. 

NOLA flipped the match’s momentum on its head after halftime, even though Old Glory scored the first points of the half through a multiple phase 5-metre line assault. This left NOLA unphased, as they went straight back down the other end of the pitch and scored through full-back Trainor, who collected Iona’s cross field kick.

That try left the game tied with a quarter of an hour remaining, and NOLA took the lead with what would eventually be a match winning penalty seven minutes later.


The final eight minutes of the match were some of the most intense I have ever witnessed. Tito came into his own as he recognized the need for late points and began to dictate the game in a way that only he can. Old Glory pushed on into the red zone, attacking with creative flair and borderline desperation, with the tension in the stadium beyond palpable. It all came to a head just after the 80-minute mark, however, with yet another handling error putting an end to play, with the final score totalling up to 17-20 in favour of the visitors.

The match was very much a tale of two halves. Old Glory took their chances in the first half, taking advantage of NOLA mistakes to run up the score through penalties, but in the second half those mistakes were hard to come by. The NOLA team that played the second forty was unrecognizable from that which played the first, bringing an impressive level of discipline in defence and creativity on attack. They turned up the contact and rubbed out the mistakes, ultimately utilising professionalism and cool heads to hang on to the victory in the tense final stages.

Next week will see Old Glory embark on a lengthy road trip, travelling to sunny San Diego to square up to the Western Conference leaders.

-by Arthur Ferridge

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