NOLA Gold defeated the New England Free Jacks 31-22, Saturday, March 7 at the Shrine on Airline. The win moves the Gold to 3-2 on the season.
The kicking game played a big factor in the outcome. Gold center Carl Meyer drilled five kicks, one penalty and four conversions. The Free Jacks struggled in that field missing three of their four conversions.
“They left as many points as they lost by on the board today, but that’s part of sports isn’t it,” NOLA Gold eight man Cam Dolan said. “It happens so you got to roll with the punches. Fortunately, we were on the winning side of it today.”
Head Coach Nate Osborne said Meyer has the biggest kicking game he’s ever seen and said he was huge for them today.
“He literally can slot it from 65-meters so anywhere that we score tries or anywhere that we need to take a penalty shot, we might as well lineup to go back and take the kickoff because he’s money,” Osborne said.
NOLA Gold prop Dino Waldren put the first try on the board in the 15th minute.
The Free Jacks responded with a try by scrumhalf John Poland in the 23rd minute to even the score at 7-7.
NOLA Gold lock/back row Nikola Bursic would score the final try of the half in the 31st minute with the Gold on top 14-7 at the half.
The Free Jacks came out firing in the second half scoring two quick tries. Lock Conor Kindregan touched it down in the 42nd minute and center Liam Steel notched one in the 48th minute. The conversion was missed on both tries so the New England Free Jacks held a 17-14 lead.
NOLA Gold would tie it with a penalty kick by Meyer, but the Free Jacks scored another try to regain the lead in the 54th minute with Poland scoring his second try in the game to give the Free Jacks a 22-17 lead.
Osborne said the team had talked about how the Gold needed to play with more energy to close the game, having been outscored in the last 20 of their games 36-10 in their four previous games.
This time the Gold controlled the final 20 minutes. Flyhalf/scrumhalf Scott Gale scored a try in the 64th minute and Meyer drilled the conversion to give the Gold a 24-22 lead.
Then Cam Dolan iced the game with a try after an interception in the 68th minute all while celebrating his birthday the same night. The Gold would take a 31-22 lead with Meyer’s successful conversion that they would hold for the rest of the game.
Dolan said the try “put the game out of reach for us and gave us a victory at the end.”
Osborne said the Gold got a lot out of their bench in that closing stretch.
“I thought our bench, our finishers, came on today and really did a good job, you know, lifting the energy, lifting the tempo of the game where in the last couple weeks we’ve just kind of been mellowed out,” Osborne said.
Dolan said the team planned during the week to maintain the energy to close the game out.
“We put a couple trigger words in there to kind of spark that last little bit of energy and working for each other and I think it worked today,” Dolan said.
With the five points added to their total in the standings, one for scoring four tries in the game and four for the win, the Gold now sit in third place in the Eastern Conference.
The Gold hit the road to take on the Utah Warriors Friday, March 13 at 8 p.m. CT at Zions Bank Stadium.
After that they’ll have a bye week before returning to the Shrine on Airline to battle the Toronto Arrows March 28 at 5 p.m.
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