MARSH AND RUGBY UNITED NEW YORK SNAP NOLA’S WIN STREAK
Written by Brian Wollitz, USMLR.com
Cathal Marsh was everywhere for New York on Saturday.
The Irish fly-half was involved in all but one scoring play for Rugby United New York, as he accounted for 17 points in the team’s 27-24 win over the Gold.
“We’re over the moon. We obviously saw that New Orleans started the season so well. They’re a big physical team and they’re playing really good rugby as well,” said Marsh. “Their backs can really throw it around so we knew it was going to be a huge challenge for us. We had a good week of training and we were all fired up coming here so now we’re delighted with the win.”
Off the initial kick off, New York pressured NOLA and gained possession, battling inside NOLA’s five-meters for the first seven minutes of the game.
Marsh eventually put the first points on the board in the 8’, converting a penalty goal.
NOLA struck back with two straight tries formed off mauls – from hooker and team-captain Eric Howard in the 16’, and from 8-man and new addition, Tony Lamborn in the 22’.
“I think the game of rugby, is always a territory game and especially with these guys because when they get deep in your end they maul and it is very lethal,” said RUNY coach Mike Tolkin. “So, to keep them away from our dangerous areas was really critical today. The more we can keep them away from our goal line, the better.”
In the 25’ Marsh dummied a defender and broke the gain line, offloading to Connor Wallace-Sims for the try, tightening the Gold’s lead to 12-10.
“The boys created a bit of space for me and when the forwards were doing their jobs and the backs are giving me good options, it makes my job pretty easy,” said Marsh.
NOLA again answered again in the 31’, as Con Foley dummied and made a long run, passing to JP Eloff, who then found JoJo Tikoisuva for the score. Eloff missed the conversion, and NOLA led 17-10.
Marsh struck again as he powered his way in from 10 meters out in the 35’, tying the game at 17-17, going into halftime.
“If Marshy sees a little break, he’ll really exploit it and take advantage of it. That’s the thing that makes him dangerous,” said Tolkin. “You might not see him doing any running for a while and he sees a little gap and he’ll go and exploit it quickly, so that’s where he was dangerous today.”
After the half, Dylan Fawsitt was given a yellow card and NOLA capitalized as Lamborn scored his second try of the game in the 54’.
Fawsitt returned to the pitch and scored in the 63’ as RUNY formed a maul of their own.
A turning point came as New York controlled the ball and the clock, driving down inside NOLA’s 22-meter line, with 10 minutes remaining.
After the ref called a penalty on the Gold, Marsh elected to kick for points and knocked it through, going up 27-24 in the 73’.
With NOLA running out of opportunities in the 76’, the Gold turned to Eloff.
The South African fullback made a big line break, down near New York’s 22-meter, but he was called for not releasing and RUNY retained possession, hanging on for the win.
For NOLA Gold coach Nate Osborne, he felt his team didn’t play up to their expectations and execute like they had the first three games.
“We just came out flat and we couldn’t get anything going. I think it was one of those days where we really didn’t play the way we wanted. We knew what they were going to do and they did exactly what we thought they were going to do,” said Osborne. “The fact that we scored four tries to three and really got beat on penalty kicks says a lot about the game in terms of what we can still do. But, we need to learn and move on and come out a little bit more fired up next week.”
NOLA drops to (3-1), but remains at the top of the MLR standings with 17 points. The Gold enter a bye week, but travel to Utah to face the Warriors on March 2 at 9:00 p.m. (ET).
Tolkin knew the challenge of not only facing the Gold on the road, but against a team that’s scored the most points in the MLR.
He said he’s seen resilience from his squad the past two games and said it took more than just matching the Gold’s offense to win the game.
“They’re a high octane team. They’ve scored a lot of points – the most in the league. They put tries on quickly, so you can get in trouble quickly with them,” said Tolkin. “It was a real mental battle for us today. It was a little hot, coming down on the road. It was a mental battle in our heads more than anything.”
With the win, New York moves to (2-0) on the season and sits in third place in the MLR with 8 points. RUNY continues their road trip next week against Seattle on Feb. 24 at 7:00 p.m. (ET).
“This is only our second game, so we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves. We knew the way this season was scheduled, we’d have a lot of away games to start, so we knew we’d have to front up from the start. I think the boys have put a lot of effort into their preparation. It’s not easy going on these long trips with travel, and not everything’s going to go right. I think the boys have a good attitude and a good mindset,” said Marsh. “We’re looking forward to Seattle now. We’ll enjoy New Orleans tonight, but we’re looking forward to Seattle next week.”
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