By Liam Madigan-Fried
(Credit Bigshots Snapshots)
A weekend full of pre-MLR season action wrapped up on Saturday, with the two professional clubs splitting the day with a victory and a loss respectively. The New Orleans Gold secured their first win as a club with a 68-15 victory over The Capital Selects, while The Houston SaberCats came close but no cigar up against the Uruguay National Team 32-24.
New Orleans vs Capital Selects
In a game that some analysts (including myself) were foreseeing a back and forth yet sloppy affair, New Orleans ended up finding themselves ahead by a large margin early at 35-0 thanks to a series of fantastic phases, including a beautiful ‘pick-five’ by Sebastian Kalm.
While the offense saw two tries from John Sullivan, and five consecutive conversions by capped-Eagle JP Eloff as two particular highlights for this team to hang their hat o, the defense doesn’t get out of this without a few pats on the back. The Capital Selects would be held out of the try zone until just before halftime, when West Virginia standout CJ Burnes would reel in a deep pass down the line to bring it in for the score which would ultimately go unconverted.
The second half wouldn’t get much better for the visiting side, as it didn’t take much time for JP Eloff to put down a score in the left hand corner, which would end up being his only unconverted try of the day. The Selects would end up garnering two more tries by way of Jake Humphrey and Brian Molloy before the conclusion of the game, while NOLA saw scores from Vincent Jobo, Eric Howard, and Derek Van Klein.
Word from Reddit:
I made the observation in my Weekend Rap-Up Discussion on Reddit that the NOLA scrum didn’t exactly impress, only amassing 2 clear wins to the Capital Select’s 4 (by my count at least). The sentiment wasn’t shared by Reddit user TheStroBro:
“I disagree here Liam. Their scrum dominated the Capital scrum for most of the match, they got lower and took ground every time until the end. What did concern me though was that they lost their legs, sort of like how at the end of the Mayweather-McGregor fight, [Connor] was struggling to stand because his aerobic capacity just wasn't there.”
The user would go on to make the point that scrums are judged by a lot more than just wins and losses, which is absolutely true. Looking back at the film, you can clearly see during the first half especially that NOLA was getting lower and with greater force on the initial push. If not for the lightning quick leg of Selects’ Hooker Adam Floyd and some opportunistic grabs by their Scrumhalf Sean Hartig, NOLA’s time of possession could’ve been a lot steeper.
But! Wins are wins, and if NOLA doesn’t get possession of more scrums than they did against The Selects, it won’t do anything for their odds going forward.
Uruguay National Team vs Houston SaberCats
“TRY TIME!” was a phrase heard around my house even hours after the conclusion of an exciting matchup between one of the USA’s most exciting new clubs and the #18 ranked rugby team in the world.
Uruguay dominated the game’s time of possession throughout thanks to the likes of players like Santiago Arata, but unlike the events that unfolded in New Orleans, this one didn’t up escalating to the point of a blowout. Instead, Houston’s stout defense and strong scrum kept them in the game all the way into the final minutes. If it were not for a few mental lapses, some trouble in the lineouts, and the seemingly absent backline, this game may have had a very different outcome.
Unfortunately for the SaberCats, what happened is what happened, and Coach Fitzpatrick has to be at least somewhat disappointed in the result despite how his team fared overall, especially considering how close they really came in the end. Houston would go into halftime down just 20-14, with both tries coming from the week-in-week-out wonder fullback Zach Pangelinan.
The deficit, however, was not to be surmounted. Uruguay would see more tries from players Leandro Leivas and Arata, while Houston players Eric Howard, Pangelinan, and Connor Murphy (no tries, but a hell of an effort all around) did their very best to keep the game close. The game would come to a close with a final score of 32-24, with Houston scoring one more consolation try to close it out.
Word from Reddit:
We mentioned how Houston managed to stay in this game thanks to a combination of their strong defense and scrum, but the ability to get it out to their backline remained an issue. According to Reddit user TxnG8R, this wasn’t much of a surprise.
“To me, it was obvious that when Fitzy and the boys were [putting] together the team, that it would be a very Forwards dominant side. I think the talent and skills are there for them to take advantage of in the backline. I also think it is a feature of their game plan to get the ball wide on occasion. I think they need more time together to iron out the kinks and we will start to see them improve in this regard as the preseason goes on. It might take until the end of the regular season for it to click, but it will get there.”
Hope seems to spring eternal in Houston, here’s to hoping it remains that way.
Connect With Us on Facebook and Twitter!
Penguin Tundra Sports Blog was created in 2016 by a very bored college student who was obsessed with Rugby and Football. That same college student knew how to write pseudo-intelligently, so what better way to show off than to create a blog. Along your journey though the Tundra's domain, you may come across outlandish opinions, horrible spelling errors, and some shit that is just outright wrong. Well then, you should comment, give my blog more attention, and we will have our day in internet court. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy talking about sports as much as I do.
Logo Typography Credit: PhotoBucket