Old Glory DC outlasts Chicago 22-21 in massive defensive effort

By Jack Foster
May 16, 2024 - 12:30pm

Old Glory DC achieved consecutive wins for the first time this season, eking out a gritty 22-21 road win over the Chicago Hounds and keeping themselves withing reach of the Hounds and NOLA Gold in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

From the opening whistle, DC looked to put pressure on Chicago, pinning them deep in their own half. This began in the 5th minute when DC scrumhalf Ethan McVeigh sent a long arching kick to the Chicago try zone. Chicago winger Nate Augsperger recovered the ball, but DC winger Perry Humphreys tackled him into touch a meter from the try zone. Off of the ensuing lineout, DC hooker Facundo Gattas dove into the corner from a rolling maul to score his third try of the season and give DC its first and only try of the match.

Old Glory captain Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz, playing in his second game following a 5-match ban for an aerial tackle against the Hounds in round 3, received a yellow card for a high tackle against Chicago Fullback Dave Kearney. Despite being a man down, DC held the Hounds off the scoreboard thanks to three penalty kicks allowing the Flags to clear their territory. In the 16th minute, Chicago winger Mark O’Keefe ended DC’s disadvantage with an intentional knock-on that gave him a yellow card as well.

Chicago outside center Bryce Campbell brought the Hounds level in the 26th minute with a crashing try just to the left of the goalposts, his first try of the season. Chicago inside center Cassh Maluia scored in the same spot five minutes later, escaping four DC tacklers to give the Hounds a lead going into halftime.

Although DC only scored one try, the Flags’ kicking game proved crucial to their scoring and eventual victory. Not only did McVeigh set up the try with a long kick downfield, but flyhalves Gradyn Bowd and Jason Robertson scored five penalty goal kicks between them. The 15 points DC scored from penalty goal kicks is the highest total Old Glory have scored this season.

The DC defense has stood out in the past two games, allowing just 10 points to the Miami Sharks in round 10 and 21 to the Hounds in round 11. Openside flanker Cory Daniel leads Major League Rugby in tackles with 167, while lock Rob Harley (122) and No. 8 Lautaro Bavaro (120) place fourth and fifth in the league, respectively. This high tackling rate along with four forced turnovers allowed Old Glory to keep Chicago scoreless for the entire second half until extra time.

In a game where Old Glory improved on so many of their flaws this season, their typically reliable lineout faltered. Coming into this game, DC had a lineout success rate of nearly 87 percent, but the Flags lost five of their 21 lineouts against the Hounds for a success rate of just over 76 percent.

The Hounds mounted a last-gasp comeback effort in the closing moments of the game. Although openside flanker MacLean Jones earned a yellow card in the 78th minute for a high tackle, putting Chicago down to 14 men for the rest of the match, O’Keefe slipped through the DC defensive line just as extra time began, bringing the Hounds within one point. The score was in vain, however, as referee Andrew Cole blew the final whistle just after the conversion.

With a two-game win streak, Old Glory stays within reach of Chicago and the NOLA Gold in front of them in the Eastern Conference, with two table points separating each of the three teams. The Flags have a bye week in round 12 before heading on the road to face the Seattle Seawolves in a game vital for the conference position of both teams. That game will kick off May 24th at 10:30 pm Eastern Time from the Starfire Sports Complex.

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