NOLA Gold clashes with San Diego with first place on line
The Major League Rugby-leading NOLA Gold face off against the No. 2 San Diego Legion at home at 2 p.m. Saturday.
NOLA (9-3, 50 points) features the top offense in the MLR, while San Diego (9-3-1, 47 points) claims the best defense.
For coach Nate Osborne, Saturday’s matchup is the biggest game in the franchise’s two-year history.
“A week like this and a game like this, you can just feel the buzz and the energy in the locker room, at the clubhouse and on the training field,” Osborne said. “It doesn’t need much words to be able to get up for a game like this at our house.”
Offensively, the Gold are led by vice captain JP Eloff, who is fourth in the league in total points (119) and Tristan Blewett, who is second in the league with nine tries.
“I think they’re going to be surprised at how fast we play, how we move the ball around and I think we can catch them off guard with a bit of that,” Osborne said.
The Legion, however, hold the highest point differential in the league (+132). Their captain, Joe Pietersen, leads San Diego’s attack and sits second in the league in points (130).
“We’re expecting San Diego to come out guns blazing,” Blewett said. “They have a great team altogether, but they also have some very dangerous individuals. Our defense is going to have to man up because we’ve let through quite a few tries this season, even though we’ve scored quite a few points. We’re just going to have to be clinical on defense.”
Osborne said the team focused on being more disciplined and worked on their set pieces heading into the matchup.
“Our line out and scrum needs to be a lot better, and that’s something we really worked hard on this week,” Osborne said. “We’ve identified discipline as something that’s been lacking in us and we need to be better in that, so that’s something that we’ve talked about as well.”
While he anticipates a tight contest Saturday afternoon, Osborne is looking forward to what he believes will be a playoff-like atmosphere and environment at Gold Stadium.
“Bringing what I would consider the biggest game in franchise history home for our crowd and our fans to watch — it’s going to be a close game, but I know we can come out on top for sure,” Osborne said.
Story by: Brian Wollitz, The Advocate | @brian_wollitz
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