Old Glory came so, so close to pulling off a come-from-behind win in Union Point Stadium against the New England Free Jacks. It was a thrilling, if ultimately disappointing match. OGDC played some of its best rugby of the year, but also some of its worst. The slow start problem that has plagued the team since the preseason of 2020 has reared its ugly head again, but the dynamic energy of the young players has brought life to the team.
1. Old Glory starts soooo sloooowly
Slow starts are a problem for OGDC. They dig themselves into a hole with poor tackling and uninspiring defense in the first ten minutes, then spend the rest of the time digging themselves out. It seems that this is a problem with some players' pre-match warm ups not being up to snuff.
However, I don't entirely buy that. Because this wasn't just a problem at the beginning of the match. Old Glory also came out flat after halftime, when they'd already had a full half to warm up. This is also not the first time we've seen this problem crop up, raising the question of why this hasn't been addressed sooner by the coaches.
The upside of all of this is that Old Glory appears to do a great job of adjusting mid-match to their opponents. The downside is that having to adjust mid-match means you weren't playing correctly to begin with.
2. The young players have so much electric energy
It was a true joy to see what the young players brought to the pitch. Sam Cusano and D'Montae Noble were a smashing success on the wings, scoring three tries between them. Cory Daniel, who started at flanker with Mungo Mason still injured, scored a pair of tries himself. They all showed an aggressive willingness to play.
At the start of the season, the younger players on Old Glory's squad were something of a liability. Too many of them on the field created too many moments of inexperience for their opponents to exploit. But that doesn't seem to be completely true anymore. We don't see a drop in defense when the young guys take the field; in fact, we see the opposite. They bring an energy that OGDC sorely needs.
Old Glory's experienced players seem to have taken the rockiness of the team's recent performances to heart. Because they are experienced, they've started trying to take on the problems of the team and fix them on their own, sometimes trying to force things that aren't working. There are times you can really feel the weight of the expectations that these players have for themselves, and it's lead to a weird change in energy in the team.
The young players seem unaffected by this. Perhaps because they don't have the same expectations, they have been able to come out and play with freedom. Without the weight of having to carry the team, they have just been playing the game that's in front of them. Frankly, that's exactly what this team needs right now.