Legion Defeats Gold in Testing Round 13 Battle
By Xander Evans
NOLA Gold fell to the San Diego Legion in a well-fought, exhausting fixture on Saturday, May 13th, at the Shrine on Airline. Though the final score reads 26-12, the game was up for grabs for the vast majority of the eighty minutes.
The game got off to a slow start – both literally and figuratively. Lightning in the area kept the two teams in their respective locker rooms for forty-five minutes longer than anticipated. When the rugby commenced, the opening phases were defined by gritty plunges and territorial kicks. A savvy spectator could see that during this span, both teams were sparring and getting into their respective rhythms rather than attempting anything indicative of a knockout blow, perhaps easing into the contest after a delayed start.
The gridlock was broken by San Diego in the ____ minute with a try generated by a nifty midfield chip kick. After a brief aerial clash of Gold and Legion jerseys, San Diego came away with the ball and delivered it to the tryzone without much defensive resistance. It was important for the Gold to maintain a close scoreline with an opponent of San Diego’s caliber – if given significant momentum, the Legion could have easily run away with the game.
Thankfully, the Gold opened their scoring account in the thirty-first minute with a corner try from Aaron Matthews. After an attacking breakdown within San Diego’s five-meter line, Luke Campbell directed the flow of play to the opposite side of the field, where Matthews was eagerly waiting for his opportunity to find paydirt. A successful conversion kick returned equality to the scoreboard, 7-7.
Before the halftime break, San Diego would add another try in a demonstration of their open-field creativity and industry. A clean break from midfield awarded a streaking Legion fullback enough space to advance San Diego’s attacking initiative to the Gold’s twenty-two meter line; then, a quick-witted offload to another white jersey would grant the Legion entry into NOLA’s tryzone. The two teams would enter halftime with a scoreline of 7-14 in San Diego’s favor.
The Gold would strike first blood in the second half with a try in the forty-fifth minute courtesy of Malcolm May. A courageous dive into a wall of Legion resistance would decrease the Gold’s deficit to two; however, a missed conversion kick would maintain that deficit. The gap widened with an additional Legion try, but ANOTHER missed conversion kick would keep the game within one possession.
At 19-12, a return to balance was tantalizingly close at numerous points. From the seventieth to the seventy-sixth minute, the Gold were pounding on San Diego’s door. Constant stop-start attempts to break down San Diego’s stout defense produced no tangible reward, despite numerous penalties and a yellow card for the west coast ruggers. After this late-game surge subsided, San Diego intercepted an errant pass and took it to the house to put the game out of the Gold’s reach.
Now at 5-7, wins are necessary for NOLA to keep its playoff hopes alive. The next opportunity to creep back into the Eastern Conference top three lies in New England with a fixture against the Free Jacks on May 21st.