Old Glory DC overcomes man-disadvantage, but leaves points on the field in 22-22 draw with Chicago

By Jack Foster
Mar 21, 2024 - 11:00am

Despite the raucous support of a sizeable crowd for its home opener, Old Glory DC ground out a tough 22-22 draw with the Chicago Hounds in round 3 of Major League Rugby and their first game at the Maryland Soccerplex.

“What an incredible venue,” DC owner Paul Sheehy said of the Soccerplex. “I think we had about 2,500 fans today, so I’m really pleased with that.”

Stalling offense marred the DC attack in the early going. Though Old Glory controlled 81% of the territory in the opening ten minutes, they committed three turnovers via handling error in that span, ending their attacking opportunities.

The Hounds opened the scoring at 13’ as fullback Adrian Carlese converted a penalty kick from 10 meters out. However, DC flanker Cory Daniel intercepted the ensuing kickoff, setting up a multi-phase sequence that ended with DC hooker Martin Vaca crashing over the try line for his fourth score in two games.

The aforementioned handling errors would rear their head for DC again at 24’ when DC winger Perry Humphreys batted back an attempted box kick directly into the hands of Chicago flanker Maclean Jones. With one defender to beat, he offloaded to fellow flanker Connall Boomer, who took the ball between the posts for a 7-point try to retake the lead 10-7.

New DC signing Axel Muller made his MLR debut in this match and did not disappoint. He answered Chicago’s score at 24’ with a darting try of his own just two minutes later, his first of two scores to go along with 108 meters gained.

Though DC controlled play for much of the first half, momentum shifted when DC No. 8 Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz received a red card for an aerial tackle on Meakes, who landed dangerously. The infraction put the Flags down to 14 men until the early parts of the second half. Fa’anana-Schultz has since been suspended by the league and is eligible to return to action on May 4th against the Miami Sharks.

“I was delighted to see a real effort from the boys on both sides of the ball, particularly when we were down to 14 men,” DC head coach Simon Cross said.

To the squad’s credit, the Hounds only managed to get one try at 44’ from tighthead prop Ignacio Peculo, putting Chicago up by three. DC flyhalf Jason Robertson converted a penalty kick at 49’ to tie the game at 17 and conclude the man-disadvantage for Old Glory.

Muller put DC back in the lead at 51’ when he caught a cross-field kick from Robertson in the corner of the try zone, his second score of the day in a team-leading 12-point effort. Robertson’s conversion attempt clattered off the left post, however, leaving the lead at five with just under half an hour to play.

Chicago prop Zurabi Zhvania scored the final points of the match, slipping around the DC defense on an advantage call for offside. Wind pushed Carlese’s conversion attempt wide left, leaving the score tied at 22.

At 74’, Chicago prop Paddy Ryan received a yellow card for a high tackle on DC lock Rob Harley, putting Flags up a man for the remainder of the game. However, Old Glory could never generate enough momentum for another score, and the game ended with shared points for both clubs.

“It’s a story of missed opportunities,” Cross said. “We had a couple of chances to score, we didn’t take them, unfortunately, and kept Chicago in the game.”

The competition will get no easier for DC, as they host the 2023 Western Conference champions San Diego Legion on Saturday at 4 p.m. The two sides faced off one time in 2023, with the Legion coming away victorious in San Diego 48-26.

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