By Liam Poach
Well, my final exams ae over. Which for me means one thing: I can get back to writing about rugby.
This weekend, we had a short MLR slate that featured only two games. However, it definitely got off to an exciting start in a game that saw the NOLA Gold come back from an early 7 point deficit and defeat the Houston SaberCats, with Matt Hughston capturing Man of the Match honors. NOLA has now officially swept the 2018 regular season series with Houston.
Although the end to this one may have come down to the wire, the meat of the match featured enough mistakes and unforced errors to make up a season’s worth of blooper reels. NOLA, despite the result, looked pretty awful in the scrum today, while Houston’s issues in the lineout and with ball handling continue to be a problem.
But, despite all that, this game had fans on the edge of their seats, and there were plenty of positives to take away from both teams’ performance.
First, to the victor go the spoils: NOLA
-NOLA did what NOLA does best today, and that is attempt to get the ball out wide and into the hands of their playmakers. Team Captain Taylor Howden along with players such as Ratu Rinkama and Zack Stryffler had themselves a great day with the ball in hand. I think if NOLA works to increase their average time of possession, we could potentially see a lot more high-scoring finishes for this Osborne led squad.
-While they had their issues with stopping the forward oriented attack from the SaberCats, The Gold made a number of goal line stands when they needed to the most, forcing Houston to make mistake after mistake, chewing up more time on the clock as they did.
-Okay, so without even mentioning the fact that they got put on their heels by a Saber-scrum that was missing an 8-man (due to a red card by fullback Zach Pangelinan), their scrum caused the Gold to concede a number of penalties, at one point finally forcing the official to issue a yellow card to capped-Canadian Hubert Buydens for forcing the pack down. Something to do with his elbow? I don’t know, I’m a back. BUT, after enduring four straight infractions backed up inside their own 22, one final penalty went against Houston’s Jake Turnbull, killing a huge momentum swinging drive for the ‘Cats.
-While it may have been more obvious for Houston, NOLA saw their fair share of turnovers today because of some shoddy handling that I’m sure will be addressed by Coach Nate going forward.
Meanwhile, for Houston…
-The final five minutes of this match is what fans across Southern Texas had probably wished they had been seeing for the first 75. Houston demonstrated as they have in the past that they can move the ball efficiently and methodically with their forwards if they’re able to get into a rhythm, and that aspect nearly won them the game in the dying minutes.
-Scrum-half Connor Murphy did well directing traffic all game, but the aforementioned issues with handling and the lineouts forced them to concede a lot of possession time, especially in the second half. He also still has the best box-kick ability in the league, garnering a few key clear-outs for the ‘Cats.
But, they still got issues…
-Okay, this is the third time I mentioned it, but BALL HANDLING AND LINEOUTS! Last time, I swear. Houston, when they have possession, have players that can score from anywhere on the field. But, like I said, they need to establish a rhythm first in order to do what they do best, and unforced errors and rubbish lineout mechanics are what will kill any semblance of one.
-Getting the ball out wide. After Pangelinan went out with a red card, I can understand why the visitors went with a more ground and pound kind of approach. But, even before his exit, I felt like the passing out to the backs was slow to develop, and allowed NOLA to ensure their defense was where it need to be when it counted.
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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.
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