SaberCats strike Gold in Houston
The Houston SaberCats made history once again on Saturday evening when they defeated the New Orleans Gold 30-12 at Constellation Field. It was the first ever match between two Major League Rugbyfranchises, a match played at high tempo in front of nearly 2,700 strong. Both the attendance and caliber of rugby on display in the preseason fixture bode well for the future of the nascent competition.
This was Houston’s 8th game already in 2018, while only the second for the Gold. The experience and familiarity proved decisive, with the SaberCats scoring an even 15 points in each half and never looking in danger of letting the lead slip.
Sam Windsor struggled to find his kicking range in the early goings, missing with two penalty attempts and a conversion. The latter opportunity would come after the opening try to Osea Kolinisau, popping up on the shoulder of Malacchi Esdale to take the center’s offload in over the line.
Esdale was in fine form for the Cats, handed the opportunity to play in the midfield after being largely restricted to the wing in earlier matches. Windsor added a penalty before Esdale sliced through to score a try for himself, Windsor this time dead on from the sideline to make it a 15-0 game.
New Orleans finally got on the board when flanker Vincent Jobo pounded over just before the half. JP Eloff added the extras but it was still a two-score gap at intermission.
It was Esdale again the hero shortly after the restart. This time he wove past several NOLA defenders on his way to the end zone. Windsor couldn’t connect with the extras but made good on his second penalty soon after as the SaberCats pulled away.
Eric Howard pounced on a loose ball at a lineout to give a hint of life for his side. The recovery would never come. Windsor closed out the game himself, converting his own try to end the contest.
Houston now await the arrival of the Ontario Arrows next week, a Canadian select side eyeing a future in MLR. New Orleans take a week off before heading to Infinity Park to play another experienced MLR franchise – the Glendale Raptors.
Tries – O. Kolinisau (11’), M. Esdale 2 (22’, 46’), S. Windsor (75’)
Cons – S. Windsor 2/4 (23’, 76’)
Pens – S. Windsor 2/4 (20’, 54’)
NEW ORLEANS 12
Tries – V. Jobo (34’), E. Howard (58’)
Cons – J. Eloff 1/2 (35’)
1 Adam Macklin, 2 Lindsey Stevens, 3 Paul Mullen, 4 Robert Meeson, 5 Justin Allen, 6 Kyle Sumsion (capt.), 7 Cecil Garber, 8 Matt Trouville, 9 Connor Murphy, 10 Sam Windsor, 11 Alex Elkins, 12 Conor Mills, 13 Malacchi Esdale, 14 Josua Vici, 15 Osea Kolinisau
Replacements: 16 Diego Maquieira, 17 Jake Turnbull, 18 Petey Hepburn, 19 Charlie Hewitt, 20 Chris Parker, 21 Chris Coyle, 22 Chris Slater, 23 Zach Pangelinan, 24 Dan Paul, 25 Chauntez Jackson
NEW ORLEANS GOLD
1 Hubert Buydens, 2 Eric Howard, 3 Ben Tarr, 4 Myles McQuone, 5 John Sullivan, 6 Vincent Jobo, 7 Matt Hughston, 8 Sebastián Kalm, 9 Holden Yungert, 10 Taylor Howden (capt.), 11 Jojo Tikoisuva, 12 Zack Stryffeler, 13 Moni Tonga’uiha, 14 Peceli Rinakama, 15 JP Eloff
Replacements: 16 Derrek van Klein, 17 Cam Falcon, 18 Matt Wirken, 19 Will Waguespack, 20 Bobby Johns, 21 Michael Baska, 22 Melvin DeSouza, 23 Alec Janotka, 24 John Stapleton, 25 Todd Dupre
Referee: Scott Green (USAR)