Old Glory Looks to Right the Ship Atlanta - Preview

By Alistair Kirsch-Poole
Apr 8, 2023 - 12:00pm

Old Glory's record has been moving in the wrong direction, with two straight losses setting them back to a 2-4 record overall. However, those losses have come to some of the top teams in the league, and now OGDC will have the chance to right the ship against an in-conference rival, Rugby ATL.

For both teams, losing isn't really an option. Both are hanging around in the playoff discussion right now, but the margins are tight. Losing would not only mean missing out on important standings points, but also giving points to a direct competitor. Neither team can secure a spot with a win, but both could damage their chances beyond reasonable repair.



How good is Rugby ATL?

Like Old Glory, Atlanta finds its record underwater heading into the eighth week of the season. They started off with a close win over Toronto, lost to Seattle, but then beat a struggling NOLA squad before they headed into a bye week. However, since then they've been on a three match slide, dropping matches against San Diego, Houston, and New York.

This drop in form from a team that played in the 2021 finals and made the playoffs last year probably shouldn't be surprising. While new head coach Stephen Brett has kept a lot of the players, tactics, and direction of those earlier sides, it's not easy to step into the shoes of a coach like Scott Lawrence. After all, Lawrence was good enough that he's now heading up the men's national team.

Despite their struggles so far, ATL does have some strong aspects to their game. They've featured a defense with disruptively fast line speed, while on attack we've seen explosive stuff from their dangerous backs like Te Rangatira Waitokia and Rewita Biddle.

What does Old Glory need to do to win?

Old Glory has been somewhat inconsistent this year. Their defense has at times looked impenetrable, capable of absorbing every blow, then at others has looked porous soft. In some matches their attack has been defined by a dominant forward pack and excellent set pieces, while in other they've required explosive individual play in the backs to score. Through it all, though, we've gotten glimpses of the team that OGDC wants to be.

On defense, step one will be keeping their structure and forcing Atlanta to win the hard way, with patience and hard running. The key to maintaining that structure, though, is winning the contact area. Against San Diego, Old Glory was guilty of far too many missed tackles and allowed far too many meters after contact. That almost guarantees front foot ball to the opponent, which is a surefire way of destroying a defensive structure. Winning in those collisions, then, and denying real progress will be absolutely essential.

On attack, the biggest key will be creativity in the back line play. Tito Diaz Bonilla should deliver a fair amount of that off his boot, and he will be helped in that regard by the return of Kurt Baker at fullback. However, the back line overall has been a little too flat and predictable so far this season, and that is exactly the sort of thing that ATL's defense is designed to feast on. OGDC's ability to play creatively, keeping the defense on their toes and punishing their fast line speed, could make or break the attack this week.

The weather, though, could play the deciding factor, with chilly, wet conditions likely to make this a forwards battle. That may well benefit Old Glory's more straightforward strategy, although that assumes that they can settle their set piece and get and edge with their forwards.

This is going to be something of a test of Old Glory. If they can win here, it will keep them in the playoff conversation and prove that they're a team worth taking seriously as an opponent. OGDC has dropped a couple of games that they really should have won against New England and NOLA, which proved they have the capability of winning. Now they need to actually win.


Old Glory DC

There are good number of changes in the lineup this week, starting with Herrera returning to start at tighthead prop. Stewart drops back to the bench as a result, but takes the place of Newcomer as the backup loosehead instead of replacing Cali Martinez as the backup tighthead. New signing Langilangi Haupeakui joins the bench, replacing Naikatini and leaving the team without any specialized locks.

In the backs, Fermin Martinez and Baker return to the starting lineup, pushing Palamo and Bowd to the bench. Young also makes a return, replacing Dabulas on the wing, who drops from the lineup entirely.

  1. Jack Iscaro
  2. Nic Souchon
  3. Ramiro Herrera
  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. Fermin Martinez
  13. Willie Talataina
  14. Marcos Young
  15. Kurt Baker
  1. Facundo Gattas
  2. Kyle Stewart
  3. Cali Martinez
  4. Langilangi Haupeakui
  5. Brady Daniel
  6. John Lefevre
  7. Thretton Palamo
  8. Gradyn Bowd

Rugby ATL

  1. Jonas Petrakopoulos
  2. Alex Maughan
  3. John-Roy Jenkinson
  4. Justin Basson
  5. Johan Momsen
  6. Viliami Helu
  7. Matt Heaton
  8. Ross Deacon
  9. Rowan Gouws
  10. Duncan Van Schalkwyk
  11. Nolan Taumeheloa
  12. George Barton
  13. Will Leonard
  14. Te Rangatira Waitokia
  15. Rewita Biddle
  1. Isaac Bales
  2. Will Burke
  3. Winkus Groenewald
  4. Manuel Milan
  5. Fred Henry-Ajudua
  6. Daemon Torres
  7. Seth Purdey
  8. Martini Talapusi