Rugby ATL rise above the elements and a tough NOLA Gold team to earn second MLR win
New Orleans, LA. (February 16, 2020). Rugby ATL overcame challenging conditions and a determined NOLA Gold team on Sunday night to secure a vital 22 -10 away win.
Both teams struggled at times with the wet ball and turnovers were plentiful in front of a small but partisan crowd at NOLA Gold’s new field at the Airline on Shrine.
In just the 3rd minute, NOLA found themselves down a man after #7, Kevin O’Connor was sent to the @ReadyRefresh sin bin for a dangerous tackle on Rugby ATL #10, Kurt Coleman.
Rugby ATL was not able to secure any points from this numerical advantage and shortly after O’Connor returned to the field, found themselves penalized for collapsing a scrum on their 22-meter line.
NOLA chose to forgo an easy kick at goal and a guaranteed 3 points and instead chose to kick to touch close to Rugby ATL’s goal line. A successful line-out allowed NOLA to set up a driving maul which ended up with NOLA #2 Lindsey Stevens burrowing over for a well-earned try. #15 Carl Meyer successfully converted to give NOLA a 7 – 0 lead after 18 minutes.
Rugby ATL did not panic and kept to their game plan on the night full of strong defensive pressure, accurate kicking for territory, and selective counter-attacking from the back 3 of #15 Rory Van Vugt, # 11 Harley Wheeler and #14 Harley Davidson with additional support from Coleman.
On the 28 minute mark, strong running by Coleman and Davidson led to a Rugby ATL penalty for NOLA not releasing at a tackle. Rugby ATL elected to kick for touch close to the NOLA goal line. Rugby ATL starting Hooker, #2 Alex Maughan, threw deep to #8 Ross Deacon at the back of the line-out in a deliberate move to create a maul with options to attack either side. With the defense committed to defending the driving maul, #9 Duncan Van Schalkwyk was able to get a flat pass into #13 Jeremy Misailegalu who cleverly angled his run and powered over from short distance. Coleman was unsuccessful with the conversion to leave the score at 7 – 5 with 10 minutes left in the half.
NOLA continued to persevere with the ball in hand and eventually had success on the 37-minute mark with a well-timed break through the middle of the Rugby ATL defense. The pressure of this incursion led to Rugby ATL conceding a penalty at the subsequent breakdown.
NOLA once again chose to ignore an easy 3 point kick and to instead to back their lineout. Their forwards won the ball easily which set up an incredible 3 minutes of defensive heroics from your Rugby ATL team. NOLA picked up and drove almost 10 times, only to be repelled each time inches from our line in what is fast becoming a signature characteristic of this team – the ability to hunker down and to defend our line when it matters most. The disciplined effort paid dividends as Maughan was able to secure a Rugby ATL breakdown penalty which allowed the team to go into the break just 5-7 down.
8 minutes into the second half saw another @readyrefresh sin bin for NOLA with #14, Tim Maupin, yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle on #12 Ryan Nell deep in the NOLA half. Coleman was successful with the 3 point penalty kick at goal and Rugby ATL took its first lead of the match, 8 – 7.
Rugby ATL used the numerical advantage to their benefit and just 4 minutes later, pressured the NOLA backline into an offsides penalty. Coleman successfully converted his 3 point attempt to bring the score to 11 – 7.
Both sides started to make changes with Rugby ATL bringing #17 Chance Wenglewski, #23 Jason Damm, and #18 Cronan Gleeson onto the field. In the 55th minute, NOLA managed a rare foray into Rugby ATL territory and earned a penalty for Rugby ATL not rolling away after a tackle. NOLA, clearly concerned about their ability to penetrate the solid Rugby ATL defense, chose to kick for poles and found themselves down 11 -10 after a successful attempt by Meyer with 23 minutes left to play.
The impact of additional Rugby ATL substitutions was starting to be apparent and 3 minutes later, Wenglewski earned a penalty for Rugby ATL for NOLA not releasing. Rugby ATL kicked for touch at the NOLA 22-meter line to keep up the territorial pressure. Continued possession and desperate NOLA defense led to another offsides penalty to Rugby ATL, an easy 3 point conversion from Coleman, and a 14 – 10 lead.
A good “up and under” kick from #22 Martini Talapusi and a brilliant catch by Van Vugt led to several phases of possession by Rugby ATL and another breakdown penalty against NOLA in front of their poles. Coleman successfully converted his 4th penalty kick of the day to give Rugby ATL a 7 point lead with 6 minutes to go.
The victory was sealed in the final minute when Rugby ATL forced a turnover after a desperate NOLA attack out of their 22-meter area. Quick passing from Nell to Misailegalu freed up Van Vugt for a score in the left-hand corner. Coleman’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful to leave the final score at 22 – 10. A great team effort on the road!
“NOLA is an experienced side with some real firepower. We enjoyed the fight from both sides in the contest and are proud of our men for their attitude, hustle, and aggression in defense,” said Head Coach and General Manager, Coach Scott Lawrence, shortly after the match.
The win earns Rugby ATL 4 points and moves them up to 2nd place in the Eastern Conference Table behind the Toronto Arrows. While both teams have 9 points, the Toronto Arrows have a superior points difference of +33 vs our +21.
Rugby ATL will play an improving Rugby United New York team at home on Sunday, February 23rd. Tickets can be purchased at RugbyATL.Rugby/Tickets
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Rugby ATL Scoring:
Tries: Jeremy Misailegalu (1), Rory Van Vugt (1)
Penalty Kicks: Kurt Coleman (4)
NOLA Gold Scoring
Tries: Lindsey Stevens (1)
Conversions: Carl Meyer (1)
Penalty Kicks: Carl Meyer (1)
Rugby ATL Starting XV:
- Jamie Ferrante
- Alex Maughan
- Duane Aholelei
- Johan Momsen
- Stefan Willemse
- Vili Helu
- Matt Heaton
- Ross Deacon
- Duncan Van Schalkwyk
- Kurt Coleman
- Harley Wheeler
- Ryan Nell
- Jeremy Misailegalu
- Harley Davidson
- Rory Van Vugt
Substitutes: Amro Gouda, Chance Wenglewski, Cronan Gleeson, Conor Keys, Maciu Koroi, Kurtis Werner, Martini Talapusi, Jason Damm
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