Old Glory came out the victors in a physical, defensive effort against the Seattle Seawolves for their second win against that team all time. It wasn't a pretty affair, with no one scoring a point in the last 25 minutes of the match, but it was an important win. Halfway through the season Old Glory is still in the playoff race, but the hyper-competitive east conference leaves little margin for error.
The opening score went to the Seawolves, who managed to punch in for a try from a lineout after nine minutes of play. Old Glory came back with a try of their own before the water break, with Renata Roberts Te-Nana getting low and driving it in like a forward. However, Jason Robertson missed the conversion that would have tied things up.
After the water break, there was a quick exchange of points, with Seattle putting a penalty through the uprights, only for a beautiful chip kick from Roberts Te-Nana to set up Doug Fraser for a try to tie up the score. Robertson again missed conversion, though, and the Seawolves took another penalty and a try to get them up by eight.
In the closing minutes of the first half, Thretton Palamo was able to push through the defense for a try, which Robertson was mercifully able to convert. That left the home side down just one point at halftime, 17-18.
In the second half, Old Glory began to take control of the match. They pushed into Seattle territory and Mikey Sosene-Feagai was able to bully his way over for a try and the bonus point. Robertson missed the kick, but Old Glory was left with a four point lead.
With the lead in hand, OGDC then seemed content to play defense. They played a territorial game, kicking away possession pretty much whenever they got it. Seattle was unable to do anything with this possession, though. They drove multiple times into Old Glory territory, but inspired defensive stands shut them out of the second half entirely. A handling mistake ended the match, with Old Glory winning 22-18.
1. Old Glory is right back in the playoff picture
Despite being at the bottom of the standings in the east, Old Glory is just six table points behind the top team, Rugby ATL. Losses by NOLA and RUNY in non-conference matches played a significant part in that as well, keeping those teams within arms reach.
Of course, OGDC cannot afford to rest easy. The team has one more non-conference match (a road trip to Houston) before they tackle a stretch of five in-conference matches. It will be a tough stretch, although it is at least broken up by a bye week. Every match will have massive implications for the playoff picture, which is simultaneously terrifying and wonderful.
2. The scrum held up even when the subs came on
The scrum has struggled in the past when the starting front row has come off pitch. It was a significant problem in the match against Utah, with hooker-turned-prop Dante Lopresti being unable to hold up. Against the Seawolves, though, switching out the entire front row and a lock in the 65th minute barely affected the scrum. The average age of the tight five was just 24, but they didn't let that bother them. That may have been in part the fatigue of the opposition, but it was still good to see after the fiasco against Utah.
3. Don't worry, Jason Robertson won't always miss this much
Before the official rosters were released, it was far from certain that Robertson was going to be able to play. He was reported to have deep bruising on his leg, and that had the potential to keep him out. As I mentioned in the match preview, the coaches even opted for an unusual 5-3 split on the bench, essentially trading a back-up forward for another back. All the signs pointed to Robertson not being a hundred percent.
In the end, he played the match, and he played right through to the end. However, one has to wonder if his poor results off the tee were evidence of that injury. Even though he was able to play through it in other areas of his game, kicking is a delicate process that's easy to upset. A bruised leg might do just that.
Regardless, it's unlikely that we will see a run of bad form from Robertson in the kicking game.