NOLA Gold fall in tight battle with Seawolves
New Orleans – NOLA Gold Rugby conceded defeat to the Seattle Seawolves, 35-36, in a thrilling contest on Sunday, April 2nd, at the Shrine on Airline.
The game could have gone either way but it goes down as a Seattle victory in the record book.
Check out the full highlights.
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) April 2, 2023
This fixture got off to a fast start and maintained its breakneck speed throughout. Seattle received the opening kick and immediately took it in for a try; before the Gold had time to blink, the scoresheet reflected a 7-0 Seawolf lead. Seattle tacked on a penalty kick to send them up 10-0 within fifteen minutes of play.
Enter Dougie Fife, Scotland international and Gold standard. After a clever switch of play by Damian Stevens from a close-range scrum, Fife barrelled into the tryzone to get the Gold on the board in the fifteenth minute. NOLA would strike again 10 minutes later to take the lead, 14-0.
The second try came courtesy of JP Du Plessis on a thrashing run through the core of the Seattle defense, carrying defenders on his way to the tryzone. The Gold didn’t stop there, though; one more first-half try from Tom Florence in the thirty-second minute would see the Gold jump out to an eleven-point lead. With momentum at their backs, the Gold would enter the locker room with a respectable eleven-point lead at halftime.
NOLA opened the second half the way they left the first: invigorated and confident. This attitude would result in a fourth try for the Louisiana lads, resulting in a 28-10 scoreline. After this, though, Seattle showed why they’re the cream of the MLR crop. They scratched and clawed their way back into the game, aided by two tries in close succession. In a flash, the scoreline shifted to 28-24.
Suddenly spurred on with a renewed sense of opportunity, the Seawolves would continue their excellent play to add an additional two tries to make the score 36-28 in the sixty-fifth minute.
It would take the Gold another 10 minutes to find a scoring play. This came through a Luke Campbell slice n’ dice run; straight down broadway, the Kiwi scrum-half would find paydirt in the seventy-seventh minute to cut the lead to a mere 1 point at 35-36. At this point, the real battle was against the clock; the Gold had shown that they still had gas in the tank, but it needed to accelerate its exhausted, rugged vehicle in a mere two minutes.
Low and behold, that actually happened.
Immediately after kick off, NOLA put together a stupendous effort to march down to the Seattle 1-meter line. At the doorstep, the referee sounded his whistle and announced a call that would leave a buoyant and ardent home crowd incredulous and deflated: the ball carrier failed to release at the point of breakdown, resulting in Seattle possession. It was a difficult pill to swallow for a team and fanbase that fought so hard to knock off the two-time champion Seawolves.
If nothing else, this game proves that NOLA deserves to be on the shortlist for MLR championship contention. Seattle displayed class to storm back from a large Gold lead; NOLA matched that excellence at the end to garner winning chances. NOLA will recoup its energy during a much-needed bye week and analyze the next fixture on their docket: a nationally-televised grudge match with rival squad Rugby Atlanta.
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As a New Orleans-area native, Jude grew up a fan of all sports and teams in the area. It’s a passion for the games that brought him into the fields of sports broadcasting and journalism. Whether he’s informing, reporting or entertaining, Jude brings his own special flavor to the task at hand. This Jesuit High School and Loyola New Orleans…