Old Glory Heads to Snapdragon to Face the Legion - Preview

By Alistair Kirsch-Poole
Apr 2, 2023 - 11:45pm

Tomorrow, Old Glory heads west to face the San Diego Legion for what is likely their most difficult matchup yet. They will play in the Legion's new home, Snapdragon Stadium, a stadium that has yet to see them lose.



How good is the San Diego Legion?

San Diego has had an excellent start to the season. They've shipped convincing wins over Utah, New England, and Atlanta, as well as shutting out a much improved Dallas. Their only loss of the season was by five points on the road to the Houston Sabercats.

This successful start has rocketed them to second place in the West Conference standings, tied on table points with the Seawolves but losing just marginally on points differential. Suffice to say, then, that they are a very good team.

They've achieved that quality through a core group of highly experienced players. The forwards are anchored by the 38-year-old Isaac Ross and the 36-year-old Blair Cowan, while the backs tend even older. The average age of the starting lineup in the backs is just over 30, despite 35-year-old Brache was swapped for 25-year-old Henderson this week.

All of this will give San Diego a weight of experience that will make them tough to beat.

What does Old Glory need to do to win?

For Old Glory, the key to winning will be their ability to maintain their structures on both attack and defense. When their defense is set it's extremely effective, generally keeping opponents from making much progress, if any. On attack, meanwhile, we've seen structured play from the backs and forwards generate scoring opportunities. The trick, though, is keeping those structures operating for the full eighty minutes.

Against NOLA, we saw the defense struggle to regain its shape at times, particularly towards the end of the match when fatigue began to set in. On attack, the desire to score when close to the try line often tempted the team into rushing and breaking from their shape. These are things that will have to be better.

However, with sweeping lineup changes this week, it's tough to know whether they will improve. In this week's The Good, the Bad, and the Questions, I wondered whether coach Syms would opt for consistency, to try to consolidate the gains the team has made, or competition, in order to find a higher level for the team. Based on the selections this week, the answer is emphatically for competition.

The key to winning, then, is for the team to trust in the process overall. Even if the players are different, they have all been in practice together, and they should trust themselves and their compatriots to carry out the game plan. Too much deviation from it, and it could be a long afternoon.


Old Glory DC

As stated above, the lineup sees massive, wide ranging changes this week. There are seven changes to the starting lineup, five changes on the bench, three players getting their first starts, and two players appearing for the first time this season.

Up front, Stewart steps in for Herrera, likely due to injury concerns, with Cali Martinez the replacement option. Despite a nasty knock last week, Souchon remains the starting hooker. In the locks, Coleman moves from the bench to start, giving Naqali some rest. He's is replaced on the bench by Naikatini. Daireaux gets his first start of the season, giving rest to Cory Daniel, and is replaced on the bench by Brady Daniel, who gets his first appearance of 2023.

In the backs, Palamo moves into the starting lineup while Fermin Martinez rests, with Fraser getting his first look of the season as a replacement. Lasaqa returns from injury to replace Sheehy on one wing, while on the other Young drops from the roster to rest, with Dabulas moving over from fullback. Bowd takes the starting fullback spot, with Rizzo taking his spot as the spare back three player on the bench.

  1. Jack Iscaro
  2. Nic Souchon
  3. Kyle Stewart
  4. Collin Grosse
  5. Fintan Coleman
  6. Lautaro Bavaro
  7. Alejo Daireaux
  8. Jamason Fa'anana-Schultz
  9. Danny Tusitala
  10. Tito Diaz Bonilla
  11. Peni Lasaqa
  12. Thretton Palamo
  13. William Talataina
  14. Mike Dabulas
  15. Gradyn Bowd
  1. Facundo Gattas
  2. Quentin Newcomer
  3. Cali Martinez
  4. Brady Daniel
  5. Api Naikatini
  6. John Lefevre
  7. Doug Fraser
  8. John Rizzo

San Diego Legion

  1. Faka'osi Pifeleti
  2. Sama Malolo
  3. Chris Baumann
  4. Ben Grant
  5. Isaac Ross
  6. Christian Poidevin
  7. Blair Cowan
  8. Tupou Afungia
  9. Richard Judd
  10. Will Hooley
  11. Nate Augspurger
  12. Ma'a Nonu
  13. Tomas Aoake
  14. Mikey Te'o
  15. Josh Henderson
  1. Shilo Klein
  2. Djustice Sears-Duru
  3. Nathan Sylvia
  4. Tom Franklin
  5. Tevita Tameilau
  6. Jason Higgins
  7. Thomas Morani
  8. Ryan Matyas