Old Glory has managed back-to-back wins for the first time this season with a win in the rain against the Houston Sabercats. The conditions really dictated play, putting an emphasis on territory and conservative play. Houston played well, holding a lead for much of the match, but it was tenacity and patience from Old Glory that saw them through.
The match started slowly, with both teams struggling to get a handle on the conditions. Houston managed to get on the board with two penalty kicks with two penalty kicks before the water break. However, Old Glory regrouped during the break and came back for a try. Mikey Sosnene-Feagai broke for the line but dropped the ball backwards, which Tusitala was able to scoop up and dot down over the line.
With Robertson’s conversion no good, the home side held on to a narrow 6-5 lead. The momentum, though, was with OGDC, and near the end of the half Robertson was able to take another three points. At the half, the visitors had a 8-6 lead.
Houston adjusted well after the break and began aggressively kicking to put Old Glory under pressure. That paid off in a try when OGDC spilled the ball close to their line and the Sabercats were able to recover it and crash over the line. The lead was short-lived, however, as Old Glory managed to push back to the Houston try line. A wide pass to Mike Dabulas gave him a clear shot to the corner and a try. Robertson nailed the conversion to make it 15-13.
Robertson hit another penalty to extend the lead to five points, but shortly after Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz was sent off with a red card. Old Glory held strong while a man down, though, with Houston unable to capitalize. Robertson hit a drop goal to seal the deal with just a minute or so to go.
Final score: Old Glory DC 21-13 Houston Sabercats
1. Don’t take too much from this match
There’s not a lot that can (or should) be taken away from a match like this. The conditions make for a weird sort of rugby that won’t come around very often. Rain is a funhouse mirror that warps the game, throwing everything out of proportion. It plays a part in obvious ways, like causing more knock-ons than a coach would like to see, but also in more subtle ways. It affects everything from game plan to player fatigue.
2. The scrum looked great
We’ve seen some good matches and some bad matches from the scrum. This year has been better than last year, to be sure, but it was only a few weeks ago that Utah put the pack on roller-skates. This match was a great showing, though. I’ll just leave this here as proof:
3. Welcome back Ciaran Hearn, hello Cory Daniel
After a long absence due to injury, Ciaran Hearn took to the pitch again, subbing in for Dabulas for the last twenty minutes of the match. It’s good to finally have him back in the lineup, especially as we enter the a pivotal stretch of matches that will make or break the team’s playoff hopes.
Cory Daniel, in his first professional start, showed that he was up to the task. He put in some punishing hits in a performance he should be proud of. He’s only getting this chance because Mungo Mason is injured, which is obviously not an ideal situation. However, it’s good to know that even when Mungo is back, there’s at least one high-level replacement behind him. Hopefully we’ll see more of Daniel going forward.