A shaky second season ended on a high note, with Old Glory grabbing a sixth win in their victory over the Austin AGs. There’s a lot to take away from this match.
1. Farewell to Ciaran Hearn and Jason Robertson
Ciaran Hearn announced his retirement after finishing up his role in Saturday’s match. After a game-winning interception last week and some quality running this week, he really put in a final performance to be proud of.
Jason Robertson also played his last match in an Old Glory jersey, having announced a month ago that he will be heading to the Pro D2 competition in France. Robertson was accurate off the boot in this match, only missing a couple kicks. He was dynamic as usual, playing like the star he’s been since the beginning. It’s fitting that his last play was a try-saving tackle into touch that ended the match and secured OGDC’s victory.
Both players will need replacing in the offseason. Center was already a thin position for Old Glory, with multiple players having to move out of position to cover injuries. Losing Hearn only increases the need for more centers. At flyhalf, Robertson has been the nailed on starter since year one, missing just two matches. Expect to see a couple big signings in these positions before next year.
2. Iscaro reaches new heights
I’ve been spending a lot of time praising the rookies these last few weeks. Cory Daniel matured into a star very quickly, Sam Cusano and D’Montae Noble are looking better than ever in the backs, and James King is getting very comfortable as a hooker. However, this week I want to focus on one player: Jack Iscaro.
After not playing a match for two years, he was understandably a little rusty coming into the season. He saw plenty of playing time, though, and rounded into form. In the last two matches, with Jamie Dever getting injured, Iscaro had to step up again. He played 76 minutes against San Diego, then 79 against Austin, and he has been excellent. Not only has he been rock solid in the scrum, he has been a harder worker on both sides of the ball. Looking through my photos from the match, I began to notice Iscaro everywhere; rucking in breakdowns, crashing the line, making tackles.
In the future, I think we’ll see more starts from Jack Iscaro. Not that he’s played Dever out of a job, who’s been quietly great all year. Rather, I think the two of them will trade the starting spot so that the other can rest. I also don’t think we’ll often see them taking 65 minute shifts like Dever was doing in the early season. Keep an eye on the 1 jersey next season; we should see some competition for the position.
3. Owen Sheehy is promising, but still raw
Entrusted with 18 minutes of playing time, Sheehy had moments of brilliance and moments of struggle. Playing on the wing, he missed a big tackle that allowed a breakaway down the sideline. After that, it looked as if Austin tried to target him as a potential weak link in the defense.
Still, Sheehy did well to adjust. For a young player just starting out on a professional stage, simply avoiding being a liability is an achievement. And Sheehy did more than than jsut avoid being a liability. On one play, with a loose ball near the goal line and no support, Sheehy did a textbook job securing the ball.
4. Congratulations to debutant Hannibal Vaivao for earning his first cap
Hannibal Vaivao, a former Old Glory Capital Selects player, came on in the 79th minute to help Old Glory close out the match. There’s not much talk about, as he didn’t see a ton of time on the pitch, but he did put in two tackles. At 34 years old, he’s not the future of the team or anything, but it’s always good when a local guy gets a chance under the lights.
5. Ending on a high note
It’s hard to know how to feel about Old Glory’s season. On the one hand, we all came in with high expectations after an excellent start to 2020, only to be pretty disappointed. However, the team has really turned a corner in the last few matches, going two for two and nearly three for three. And that success has come from the best place possible: the ever-improving youngsters on the roster.
Overall, Old Glory ends with 6 wins, 9 loses, and a tie. Ending on a high note doesn’t change the fact that 6-9-1 is a losing record. But it does make me far more optimistic going into next season. Old Glory is, at the core, a good team. They just need to fix a few things so that they can consistently play like it.