Old Glory Faces Rugby ATL in Home Opener – Week 1 Preview

Old Glory is hoping to extend their unbeaten streak to six games in their home opener. Across the field will be a familiar foe: Rugby ATL, a team that OGDC has played twice before. This won’t be an easy match up, as both teams will bring an intense, physical defense. It should be a gripping, though, and the perfect way to inaugurate Old Glory’s new home at Segra Field.

Details

  • When: March 27, 2021
  • Time: 5:00 ET
  • Where: Segra Field (map)
  • Channel: NBCSW (DC region), The Rugby Network (national & overseas)
  • Weather forecast: 71°F and sunny
  • Line: ATL by 1 (from Tackle the Numbers)

Preview

How good is Rugby ATL?

It’s no secret that Atlanta is shaping up to be a very good team this season. In the opening round, they delivered a stunning upset to conference the conference favorites, the Toronto Arrows, 21-14. That match was intense and high-level, especially on defense. In fact, neither team managed any points in the second half at all.

And that is really ATL’s brand of rugby. They have a very good scrum, which could really challenge an Old Glory side that’s only just finding their footing in the set piece. They also have a stifling defense that doesn’t leave many holes to be exploited.

Rugby ATL isn’t a team filled with star talent; many of the names on the roster only a very dedicated fan of the MLR would have heard before. But they make up for the lack of big names with great local talent that plays cohesive, team rugby. Players like prop Chance Wenglewski, lock Johan Momsen, and number 8 Ross Deacon made huge impacts last weekend, and could play pivotal roles today as well.

The big question for Atlanta will be how banged up they are from last week’s slugfest. Some key players, like Harley Davidson, will be out, and that could make things more difficult for them.

What does Old Glory need to do to win?

Old Glory has beaten them before, in the preseason and the final match of last year. However, this time will likely be harder than either of those previous meetings. Atlanta is clearly on an upward trajectory and will likely want revenge for the close loss last season.

On top of that, OGDC is going through a massive shakeup in the back line. Jason Robertson, a linchpin of the attack, is injured and won’t play for at least three weeks. His replacement technically should be Mike Dabulas, but coach Douglas decided to shake things up. Danny Tusitala, normally the scrumhalf, will start at 10, with his backup Sean Hartig playing at 9. Doug Fraser and Thretton Palamo will hold the center, D’Montae Noble gets his first start at wing alongside Sam Cusano, and the reliable Renata Roberts-Te Nana will shift to fullback. That’s a huge change, but big problems require bold responses.

Who will take over the kicking duties is another question. Robertson has been a huge well of points for the team, with almost half of Old Glory’s points coming off of his boot. I suspect Roberts-Te Nana will take this on, but we’ll see.

The final key point will be the set piece. The scrum is looking far, far better than last year, but they were still pretty shaky last week. If they can hold up this week against a good Atlanta pack, that would be really encouraging for the future. Lineouts against NOLA were rough, and that’s an area where we should hope to see huge improvement in this match.

Where DC will be strong is on defense. Old Glory has one of the better defenses in the league, exemplified by their excellent goal line stands last week. They never give up on a play, always making their opponents make that extra offload, go that extra phase. Watch out for Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz, who was a wonder last week.

Lineups

Old Glory DC

  1. Jamie Dever
  2. Mikey Sosnene-Feagai
  3. Steven Longwell
  4. Api Naikatini
  5. Tevita Naqali
  6. Callum Gibbins
  7. Mungo Mason
  8. Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz
  9. Sean Hartig
  10. Danny Tusitala
  11. D’Montae Noble
  12. Doug Fraser
  13. Thretton Palamo
  14. Sam Cusano
  15. Renata Roberts-Te Nana

Reserves:

  1. James King
  2. Jack Iscaro
  3. Jack Carroll
  4. Stan South
  5. Luke Campbell
  6. Daniel Thomas
  7. Mike Dabulas
  8. Josh Brown

Rugby ATL

  1. Chance Wenglewski
  2. Neethling Gericke
  3. Alex Maughan
  4. Conor Keys
  5. Johan Momsen
  6. Connor Cook
  7. Matt Heaton
  8. Jason Damm
  9. Rowan Gouws
  10. Duncan van Schalkwyk
  11. Rory van Vugt
  12. Bautista Excurra
  13. Robbie Petzer
  14. Jeremy Misailegalu
  15. Martini Talapusi

Reserves:

  1. Jonas Petrakopoulous
  2. Will Burke
  3. Manasa Saulo
  4. Vili Helu
  5. Daemon Torres
  6. Mark O’Keeffe
  7. Zander van Schalkwyk
  8. Ryan Rees