After having the week off, the Gold are rested and prepared for their match against Austin Elite Rugby on Saturday.
The last time both teams met in Week 9, the Gold escaped Austin’s upset bid with a thrilling 35-31 win on a try in the final seconds by scrum half Michael Baska.
The Gold return home and are coming off a bye week after Week 13’s 25-24 heartbreaking loss against the reigning Major League Rugby champion Seattle Seawolves.
“Last time we didn’t play the best of rugby (against Austin), but obviously this week coming off a bye week and that game against Seattle, the boys really needed a bye week. The boys recovered mentally and physically. I think we’re in a good place right now going into these last five games and the last stretch of the season,” said vice-captain and fullback JP Eloff.
Saturday’s game was originally set to take place in Austin, but NOLA returns home for the extra home game as Austin’s field conditions couldn’t support the game.
NOLA (8-3, 45 points) sits in second place in the MLR standings, while Austin (0-11, 4 points) is last in the standings, but Eloff said the team isn’t overlooking them after playing them to a close finish the first time around.
“Austin’s going to be another tough one. They showed they can hang with the best teams. Obviously they haven’t got the results that they wanted, but they do have the athletes and they do have the team to compete, so we can’t take them lightly,” Eloff said.
For head coach Nate Osborne, he’s looking for the Gold to build on their defensive performance against Seattle, but is also looking to clean up their penalties after allowing six penalty goals against the Seawolves.
“I think we defended a lot better in Seattle – keeping them to one try, that’s something that we want to keep rolling and something that we’ve worked on for a while now, getting our defense right. So, that’s a key for us this week to is to get our defense right and then our discipline,” Osborne said.
“Our discipline really let us down in Seattle and throughout the whole year, I think you can point to our discipline to being the reason why we lost a few tight games, so that’s something we want to do. Then it’s just our physicality and our patience in attack, that’s really what we want to bring this week.”
For both Osborne and Eloff, their main focus is continuing on improving their team play, concentrating on their own game and putting together a full 80-minute performance.
“We have to stick to our game, stick to what we’ve been training. This week of training has been good. We’ve been coming off that rest week and we’ve been building everyday. We had a good captain’s run today and hopefully we can just keep building on that tomorrow and get that energy up and get the result we want,” Eloff said.
“I think a lot of time we concentrate on what other teams do instead of making them stop the way we play. We have to go back to our game and the way we want to play, like we did show against Seattle. Yeah, we didn’t get the result we wanted, but there were some really good facets of play that we did against Seattle, so if we can do that for a full 80 minutes, we’ll be very successful.”
The Gold face Austin Elite Rugby this Saturday, May 4 at 3:30 p.m at Gold Stadium.
“The biggest thing for us going into this week is mentally being up for the challenge for 80 minutes. I think we have tendencies to drop off at different times. We have tendencies to do those things, but we realize that the playoff picture is getting closer and tighter and we need to get some wins. This extra bonus home game is definitely in our favor,” Osborne said.
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