NOLA Gold Tames Chicago Hounds, 37-24
NOLA Gold Rugby picked up a crucial victory against the Chicago Hounds, winning 37-24 on Sunday, April 23rd. The Gold were convincing in every phase of the game, which saw them earn a bonus-point win in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Gold fielded a slightly different lineup this week due to a collection of injuries, and it did not disappoint. NOLA got off to a fast start with a try in the fifth minute courtesy of Luke Campbell, who played a magnificent overall game. The scrum-half cleverly scooped up a dead ball within Chicago’s five-meter line and dashed into the tryzone before the Hounds had time to reset their defensive formation. Rodney Iona improved the Gold’s lead to 10-0 in the ninth minute through a long-range penalty kick. This kick would foreshadow a highly efficient and successful day for Iona. Demonstrating perfect pedal marksmanship, Iona would convert four conversion kicks and two penalty kicks en route to a 14-point outing.
NOLA transformed its tentative grasp on the game to a thorough stranglehold in the twenty-second minute by virtue of a try from Pat O’Toole. The hooker found paydirt for the second week in a row after a well-executed lineout deep in Chicago territory, which then turned into a driving maul captained by the Irishman. Iona’s successful conversion would send the score to 17-0. It didn’t take long for this lead to stretch even further; in the twenty-sixth minute, Ross Depperschmidt scored the game’s third try. Like a hot knife through butter, NOLA carved through the Chicago defense with a series of quick plunges, a Iona swim move, and a tryline dive from Depperschmidt.
With the score now at 24-0, Chicago desperately needed to jumpstart their attack. They managed this in the thirtieth minute with a strong run through the teeth of the Gold line and last-minute offload to a free runner. The Hounds’ first points of the game came as a welcome relief from the incessant stream of NOLA pressure that had been building.
Such relief was only temporary, though; a mere two minutes later, Luke Campbell demonstrated his tactical wit for a second time and blew past an unprepared Chicago line for a massive gain. Like a dog with a car, a whole pack of Hounds were left chasing Campbell in the open field. Once the dog catches the car, though…then what? An offload to JP du Plessis, of course! The South African departed from his natural lane when he saw the opportunity that Campbell had created and eagerly finished the advance that his scrum-half had pioneered with a dominant try. This would be the last score of the first half, sending the two sides into the locker room at 31-7.
The Hounds mustered inklings of a comeback in the second half, though this effort proved futile in the end. Three second-half tries for Chicago garnered an additional 17 points to bring their game-end total to 24. For the Gold, Rodney Iona and Damian Stevens each added a second-half penalty kick to net 37 points on the day. The final score would read 37-24 in favor of NOLA.
This win awarded the Gold a necessary five points – four for the win and a bonus point for scoring four tries. NOLA now sits a mere two points outside of a playoff spot with New York being the team to replace. The God will have an opportunity to build on their strong performance on Sunday, April 30th, against the Toronto Arrows at the Shrine on Airline.
Photo by Craig Boudreaux