Rugby ATL Plunders the Gold in Week 9
New Orleans, LA – NOLA Gold Rugby fell to Rugby ATL 7-23 on Saturday, April 15th. Atlanta won in decisive fashion, playing a clean, efficient game.
Defense wins championships, and penalties lose matches; both statements can be applied to this game. Atlanta put together a compelling, end-to-end performance and thwarted Gold attacks at will. Additionally, NOLA shot themselves in the foot numerous times with penalties and turnovers in critical positions.
Atlanta opened the scoring early, going up 7-0 by way of a close-range try from William Leonard. The teams exchanged back-and-forth drives following this score with each side threatening to alter the score line. The defense stood tall for some 15 minutes until Atlanta tacked on a penalty kick to send the scoreline to 10-0 through 26 minutes.
In the 31st minute, Pat O’Toole gave the Gold some hope. After feeding a lineout deep in Atlanta territory, the Ireland native set a maul to perfection. The collection of green and white jerseys crawled towards the Atlanta tryline like a baby taking its first steps – that is, slowly, with great caution, and in a stop-start fashion. O’Toole then delivered an inspiring burst of power and intention, dismissing a plethora of would-be tacklers on his way to the tryzone. This rumbling run was the Gold’s biggest spark all night.
Atlanta promptly responded with a try in the 35th minute, returning the gap in the scoreline to its previous state of 10 points. The two squads would enter halftime, 17-7, in favor of Atlanta.
The second half didn’t yield many notable moments for the Gold. Jordan Jackson-Hope delivered what would have been a top play of the season had it not been for a frustrating decision from the head official. In the 51st minute, Jackson-Hope laid the hammer on an Atlanta player, dislodging the ball. He then scooped it up and cut through the Atlanta defense for a 40+ meter try; however, much to the chagrin of the home crowd, the scoring play was called back and the try did not stand. Atlanta maintained its sizable lead.
An anonymous fan contributed some cutting remarks about NOLA’s performance: “The Gold were outclassed in every phase of the game – handling errors, penalties, line formation, and more. We were overpowered in the scrums; their kicking game was better than ours. We have the resources to be a great team, so we need to utilize them for the rest of the season.”
The remainder of the match was forgettable. Atlanta added 6 more points through penalty kicks and utterly squashed any attempts at a Gold comeback. NOLA will look to recoup and reload for a very important fixture against the Chicago Hounds in Week 10.