The Houston Sabercats (3-10, 15 points) came out firing and pulled off the 27-20 upset over the NOLA Gold on Saturday afternoon.
Sabercats flyhalf Sam Windsor opened the scoring in the third minute on a penalty goal that put Houston up 3-0.
Houston then jumped to a 10-3 lead after Windsor located a gap in NOLA’s defense, scoring the game’s first try in the 17th minute.
NOLA’s captain Eric Howard, however, responded in the 23rd minute, touching down a try of his own, tying it at 10-10.
The Gold rode this momentum and captured their first lead of the game in the 33rd minute as Tristan Blewett chased a kick from Scott Gale and tracked down the Sabercats runner.
His tackle forced a turnover and he then picked up the ball and took it in for the try that put them up 17-10.
Houston evened the score at 17-17 just before halftime as scrumhalf Santiago Arata took a pick and go in for a try from just beyond NOLA’s goal line.
The second half was controlled by the Sabercats, who first extended their lead to 20-17 in the 51st minute on a penalty goal from Windsor, who finished the game with 17 points.
In the 62nd minute, Alejandro Nieto raced past the Gold defense for another try that pushed their lead to 27-17.
JP Eloff’s penalty goal in the 79th minute, however, earned NOLA (9-5, 52 points) a bonus point for losing by seven points or fewer.
The Gold remain in second place behind the San Diego Legion (11-3-1, 57 points) in the Major League Rugby standings.
“Credit where credits due. Houston came and showed us a side that we didn’t see before. Under a new coaching staff, they started using their backs a lot more and playing wide, which is something we talked about, but something I don’t think we were ready for as much as we though we were,” Howard said.
The Gold finished the game with nine penalties conceded, six knock-ons and were given a yellow card with just over ten minutes remaining in the game.
“When we went through the phases, we looked good. I think we just panicked a bit, which is uncharacteristic of our team and that kind of undid us at times. Houston came out hot and I don’t think we matched them properly,” Howard said.
The Gold travel on the road for their final two games, first at Rugby United New York (9-4, 44 points) on May 26 at 12:00 p.m. and on June 2 vs. San Diego at 6:30 p.m.
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