Finally after its fifth preseason match, NOLA Gold earned its first victory by decisively defeating the Austin Elite, 48-17. At Archbishop Shaw Field in Marrero, La., the time spent working on team chemistry and how it wants to play paid off with seven tries by the home team. The win was a long time coming and an indication that NOLA is getting their footing to be prepared for its season opener at Houston.
“I think it’s just playing games together,” NOLA head coach Nathan Osborne said. “We never panicked over our losses to Glendale and Houston. It’s just sticking to the plan and understanding how we want to play the game. We finally got to a point where we dug out last week and this week, we put it all together for the win. It’s been a building process and we can only go forward from here.”
NOLA came out firing with three tries in the first 20 minutes of the match. Vincent Jobo, Sebastián Kalm, and Cam Falcon scored in quick succession and captain Taylor Howden and Holden Yungert combined to slot each conversion for the 21-0 lead.
After another Gold try by Eric Howard, Austin responded with a pair of tries to close out the first half. Intense phase play by forwards resulted in a Chris Schade try and the backs swung it wide where Timothée Guillimin took a gap to dot it down for the Elite, but Austin trailed 31-12 at halftime.
NOLA resumed its dominance after the break as Bobby Johns added two tries to the tally in the 54th and 67th minutes. As the game wore on, the discipline slipped for both teams sending two players to the bin. The Gold took advantage first as Melvin DeSouza scored in the corner then Austin had the last punch in when Ben Mitchell found the endzone in the 79th minute.
Osborne called the victory a team effort with contributions from each player on the field. “We moved [Austin] around with our offense to create space rather than trying to force things. We were a lot more patient today so we could move the ball to space out wide and find the holes we wanted to… Against Glendale and Houston, there were times when we played well and were times when we let ourselves down with silly mistakes and got away from the plan. Today, we stuck to the plan for a huge chunk of the game and it allowed us to play the way we wanted and score points to win the game.”
With the season opener less than a month out, these teams will play again this Saturday in Texas. Osborne hopes to see more improvement this week and build on the win. “Every game we’ve played so far this year, we have got better and better every week. It’s been growing and next week I want us to take another step towards being more of an 80-minute team rather than 60-minute or 40-minute team. That’s what I’m looking for this week coming into training.”
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