Old Glory Looks to Secure Playoff Bid in New Orleans

By Alistair Kirsch-Poole
Jun 2, 2023 - 11:19pm

Old Glory is heading down to Gold Mine tomorrow with a lot on the line. A bonus-point win would lock in a playoff spot, provided NOLA doesn't get two bonus points themselves. The Gold, meanwhile, need a bonus point win just to get back into the conversation. There's a lot at stake for both teams, which should make this an intense match.

After going into the bye week with momentum a month ago, Old Glory has struggled to maintain consistent form. They came back flat against Dallas, then lost in unpleasant fashion to New England, struggled to a tie against Toronto, then collapsed against Seattle. It has been rough to watch.

Of course, there are some legitimate excuses for those performances. The near-loss to Dallas came on a rainy day straight after a bye week. New England and Seattle are two of the top three teams in the league. The Toronto match was on an absurdly short turnaround. Those are real reasons that the team lost.

However, eventually Old Glory needs to start winning, even when there are reasons that they should lose. The best teams are the ones that overcome the obstacles in their way. They find ways to win against the odds. I want Old Glory to be one of those teams.

They'll have a chance to right the ship against NOLA, a team that has fallen off a much steeper cliff than Old Glory. The Gold started the year in poor form, losing consistently by 10-20 points each week, before exploding against New York in week 4. They went on a 6-1 tear, only losing by a single point to Seattle. Then, as quickly as they had risen, they collapsed, losing their last three in blowout fashion.

That bodes well for Old Glory, who should come in the favorites despite being on the road. However, it is difficult to know what team I'm supposed to be previewing. Will we see the dismal, error-ridden NOLA that has been out scored 130-34 in recent weeks? Or will the team take another sudden and dramatic turn, pulling out a mind-blowing performance that earns them a playoff bid?

Despite NOLA's struggles, this could be a tough match for Old Glory. They've struggled recently to complete tackles and win the contact area, allowing their opponents the opportunity to make easy meters. The Gold's eightman Tom Florence and center JP du Plessis are primed to exploit this sort of weakness and will wreck havoc if not contained properly. On attack, Old Glory needs to focus on just getting the ball to hand. Handling errors were a major problem against Seattle, ruining two perfect scoring opportunities.

I'm expecting an Old Glory rebound here, a return to form on both sides of the ball. Or maybe that's just what I'm hoping. Either way, it's desperately what the team needs.


Josh Syms has once again decided to make significant changes to the lineup. Jack Iscaro, Nic Souchon, and Kyle Stewart once again start in the front row, with Quentin Newcomer and Cali Martinez the backup props. However there is a new face at reserve hooker, with rookie KoiKoi Nelligan set to get his professional debut. Kyle Baillie and Tevita Naqali complete the tight five.

There are further changes in the loose forwards. Team captain Jameson Fa'anana-Schultz is out of the lineup, possibly due to injury, with Niko Jones shifting to eight in his place. Alejo Daireaux takes Jones' spot at flanker opposite Lautaro Bavaro. Off the bench are Langilangi Haupeakui and Collin Grosse.

In the backs, the changes keep coming. Danny Tusitala continues his unbroken streak as a starter at scrumhalf while Gradyn Bowd returns to flyhalf. Fellow Canadian Doug Fraser slots in at inside center, joining Willie Talataina. On the wings, Marcos Young makes a return alongside Peni Lasaqa. Tito Diaz Bonilla takes up the fullback jersey. On the bench are John Lefevre, Thretton Palamo, and John Rizzo.

Overall, it's a strong if unorthodox lineup. Players like Young, Daireaux, and Rizzo bring a lot of energy, which could be just what this team needs to pull out win.