NOLA falls to Seattle in top of the table thriller
Sunday night’s clash between the No. 1 NOLA Gold and No. 2 Seattle Seawolves lived up to all the hype as CBS Sports Network and Major League Rugby’s “Game of the Week,” as the game went down to the wire in the final moments.
After Seattle’s winger Brock Staller converted a penalty goal that put the Seawolves up 25-17 in the 77th minute, the Gold marched back down field and formed a maul off a line out, as Kevin Sullivan powered his way in for a try in the 79th minute.
With the score at 25-24 in favor of Seattle, the Gold retained the ball off the restart for one final possession.
After multiple phases, NOLA couldn’t get past the Seattle defense and a loose ball fell to the ground, allowing the Seawolves to kick the ball to touch, ending the game.
Seattle winger Brock Staller finished the game with 20 points, converted all six of his penalty goal attempts and added a conversion in the win.
Despite scoring four tries to Seattle’s lone try, the Gold conceded eight penalties in the loss, with Staller scoring 18 points on penalty goals.
For head coach Nate Osborne, he said Seattle’s ability to create points off the Gold’s mistakes was the difference in the game.
“I thought we did a really good job in our defense and holding the middle of the field and winning the middle of the field. We definitely had the ball enough and scored enough tries to win the game, but we just couldn’t get it done because of our discipline. That’s what it comes down to really,” Osborne said.
Staller opened the game’s scoring with a penalty goal in the 20th minute, giving Seattle the early 3-0 lead.
Captain Eric Howard responded in the 24th minute after punching in a try with J.P. Eloff converting, putting the Gold up 7-3.
Staller, however, nailed three straight penalty goals in the 27th, 35th and 40th minutes that gave Seattle the 12-7 lead at half time.
The Seawolves’ lone try came in the 47th minute as Riekert Hattingh touched the ball down after a Seattle scrum inside NOLA’s five-meter line, which put them up 19-7.
The Gold then answered with consecutive team-led tries from Con Foley and Tristan Blewett in the 50th and 54th minutes. Eloff, however, was unable to convert both kicks as the Gold still trailed 19-17.
After NOLA was called for being offside, Staller notched his fifth penalty goal, giving them the 22-17 lead in the 62nd minute.
Staller’s sixth penalty goal and winning score came after another NOLA offside call, giving them the 25-17 advantage at the 77th minute mark.
“That’s going to be a big focus for us after the bye week – getting our discipline right, understanding what we’re trying to do and not putting pressure on ourselves and not letting them off with penalties,” Osborne said.
The race atop the MLR standings remains tight after Week 13 as the Gold drop to (8-3, 45 points) but remain in first place in the league standings.
Seattle moves to (8-3, 41 points) and is tied with San Diego (8-2-1, 41 points) for second place. New York (8-2, 37 points) holds the fourth place spot, as Glendale (5-4-2, 33 points) is on the outside looking in at the fifth spot.
The Gold will rest up on their final bye week before returning home to Gold Stadium on Saturday, May 4 at 3:00 p.m. (CT) against Austin Elite Rugby (0-10, 4 points).
“We got some guys that are pretty banged up. So, getting that extra week off and getting ourselves rejuvenated before three home games in a row I think will help us as well,” Osborne said.
“We’re still sitting on top of the table, so we understand if we win out, we get home playoffs so it’s a big focus for us resting up and getting ourselves mentally prepared for the last five games.”
For tickets to the Gold’s home game against Austin: click here.
Photo Courtesy of: Quinn Width
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