MLR’s first place NOLA Gold hosts Utah Warriors on Saturday afternoon

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NOLA Gold Rugby looks to maintain its hold of first place in the Major League Rugby standings table when it welcomes the Utah Warriors to Gold Stadium at 2 p.m. Saturday.

With seven wins in nine matches and 38 points, NOLA holds a five-point edge over second-place Glendale. Rugby United New York and Seattle are tied for third with 32 points, while San Diego is fifth with 31. The top four teams in the nine-team MLR qualify for the playoffs.

Saturday’s match is the second of the year between the Gold and Warriors. On March 2, NOLA won 21-19 on the road and prevailed despite a season-low point total.

Each of the Gold’s last three games have been decided in the closing moments. NOLA posted wins over Austin and Toronto by identical 35-31 scores on late tries, sandwiched between a 34-33 loss at Glendale.

Ignatio Dotti, who entered as a reserve last week at Toronto, produced the game-winning try as time wound down. He will be back in the starting XV on Saturday.

NOLA continues to lead MLR in points (314) and tries (46), scoring 30 or more points seven times in nine matches this year. Gold vice captain JP Eloff leads the league in conversions with 31 and is second in total points with 98.

Tristan Blewett produced his team-leading seventh try in last week’s win north of the border. Blewett ranks second in MLR in tries, trailing only Glendale’s John Ryberg. He was NOLA’s representative on MLR’s First XV for Week 11.

Saturday’s match is the only one at home for NOLA this month. Up next is a road match at Seattle on April 21, followed by a trip to Austin on May 4 before the Gold returns home on May 11 to face San Diego.

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