By Liam Poach
The Austin Elite got their first taste of victory tonight, defeating the NOLA Gold 30-17. The South African native, Hanco Germishuys, of The Elite captured Man of the Match honors thanks to a spectacular two-try performance.
Austin got to work quickly in this one, with Coach Alain allowing Tim Guilliman to kick for points twice within the first five minutes, both of which were successful. A try by the fullback Hudson not long after would push the lead to 11-0 before NOLA could even blink.
The early lead was in large part thanks to a more efficient attack from Austin than we had seen all season. They were at their best using a barrage of short-ball passes that allowed their runners to hit tight gaps at full speed, which when done in a good rhythm resulted in a much more fast paced and entertaining ground and pound effect.
NOLA, meanwhile, looked to apply a more traditional style with the same concept, which was to repeatedly hammer the Elite’s suspect defense up the middle with their imposing band of forwards. While the Gold saw a measured amount of success with this tactic, they ultimately ended up not scoring enough points while killing too much clock.
Each team saw its fair amount of penalties, particularly of the handling variety, which is always a huge momentum killer in close games like this. However, it seemed as if Austin more often than not was able to take advantage of NOLA’s miscues while quickly recovering from their own. One two particular occasions, the Gold showed poor judgement while backed up against their own try-zone, nearly resulting in an Elite try both times before being saved by lucky clearance kicks.
NOLA can still hang its hat on its scrum, but it didn’t show up the way it needed to tonight to support a passing attack that remained stagnant for most of the game while the Elite continued to find the gaps and huge splash plays. And that’s not for a lack of talent, I just think Austin showed up to play tonight, resulting in a much different kind of opponent than the Gold may have expected to find.
On a final note, Hanco needs to be firmly in the MVP conversation, even at this early stage of the season. There’s no denying the role he plays on this team, forcing coaches to game plan their defense around stopping him. #HancoMVP
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