A stoppage-time penalty goal from Robbie Petzer kept Glendale’s unbeaten home record intact as the Raptors earned a stunning 34-33 win over the NOLA Gold on Sunday evening. It was a mesmerizing game from start to finish that saw the lead change four times before the dramatic conclusion.
To say the opening quarter was all Glendale would be an understatement. It was one-way traffic as Chad Gough was found loitering on the right sideline, the hooker showing his winger’s pace with a 40 meter dash into Gold territory. From a resulting penalty Will Magie made no mistake to open the scoring.
Magie’s boot tested the NOLA defense and two mistakes coughed up further field position. Glendale piled on the pressure but showed patience, going through numerous phases until Gough spotted an opening and dove over a ruck from close range to grab the first try.
John Ryberg’s return to the Glendale lineup was hailed as significant before the game. The left wing dynamo had already made inroads on three earlier carries. His fourth came from a Mika Kruse offload that sucked in two defenders at halfway. Ryberg went through JP Eloff as if he wasn’t there and popped the ball to Shaun Davies in close support, the captain sprinting home untouched from 20 meters out to make it a 17-0 lead with only 16 minutes on the clock.
The league leaders were now facing a situation unseen in 2019, and they launched a furious response. Their first foray was thwarted by a Gough turnover at the breakdown. A second did the trick. This time the forwards rolled up their sleeves and battered on until Nikola Bursic muscled over from two meters out. Eloff’s conversion put a much-needed seven points on the board for the Gold.
Glendale’s alarm bells began to ring when Eloff broke from his own half and stuck the Raptors deep inside their own end. NOLA spurned a kicking opportunity and instead took the corner. From the lineout the forwards again went to work and in short order Eric Howard burrowed over with Eloff’s extras all but erasing the defecit.
The Raptors looked to have regained some momentum with Robbie Petzer firing clean through a hole and Will Munro hitting a half-gap. Holden Yungert played spoiler this time with the turnover and Scott Gale’s left boot heaved the ball downfield. Magie’s return gave the attacking throw to NOLA, and the Raptors midfield was caught flat-footed on a decoy run that sent Tim Maupin through the hole with a shimmy around the last defender to give the Gold the lead for the first time.
Incredibly another score was on the cards as NOLA found themselves on Glendale’s doorstep just before the break. They botched the lineout, however, instead conceding a free kick and Davies sent the ball over the sideline to earn his team a much-needed opportunity to assess the chaos.
Whatever was said at halftime seemed to do the trick. Petzer ran an inside line straight through the midfield with a desperate Nick Feakes just barely holding him out. There would no stopping Luke White, the replacement lock blasting straight in under the sticks.
The fans got a much-needed rest for a few minutes as replacements began to distrupt continuity somewhat. Immediately after the hydration break the Raptors struck again. Davies sold the defense on a dummy and took the ball up the 22, dropping it into space for Malon Al-Jiboori to finish in spectacular fashion on his first touch of the game. Petzer stepped in for a dazed Magie to land the conversion and the gap was suddently 10 points to the home side.
NOLA weren’t prepared to wave the white flag, however, and they brought in cavalry of their own. Feakes set off on a counter-attack and set super-sub Michael Baska free with an offload from the deck. The Glendale cover somehow got accross to stop what looked like a certain try but conceded a penalty in doing so. From the lineout the Gold attached to a poorly-guarded short side with Cam Falcon falling in for the bonus-point try.
Ill-discipline cost the Raptors dearly as Zach Fenoglio was sent to the bin with only four minutes to play for a cynical penalty at the breakdown. Eloff took the corner from the penalty and the lineout drive worked to perfection with Howard on the end for his second try to draw the scores level. Eloff’s conversion rang off the upright and over the crossbar to give the Gold the lead with just moments left.
The ending would be no less sensational. New Orleans regained possession from the kickoff but somehow knocked on as they looked to grind out the clock. Glendale won a penalty from the attack but Gough inexplicably took a quick tap instead of the easy three points. The Raptors kept the pressure on until a no-arms tackle from Ignacio Dotti landed the Uruguayan a short-lived trip to the bin as Petzer landed the game-winning shot at goal.
A week off would do for both sides but they won’t get it. NOLA hit the road for the first ever Major League Rugby match in Toronto against the Arrows on Sunday. Glendale at least will get to stay at home with the Houston SaberCats arriving at Infinity Park on Saturday.
Tries – C. Gough (12’), S. Davies (15’), L. White (44’), M. Al-Jiboori (60’)
Cons – W. Magie 2/2 (13’, 16’, 45’), R. Petzer 1/1 (61’)
Pens – W. Magie 1/1 (3’), R. Petzer 1/1 (80’)
Yellow cards – Z. Fenoglio (76’)
NEW ORLEANS 33
Tries – N. Bursic (25’), E. Howard 2 (29’, 77’), T. Maupin (35’), C. Falcon (71’)
Cons – J. Eloff 4/5 (26’, 30’, 36’, 78’)
Yellow cards – I. Dotti (80’)
1 Noah Barker (17 Blake Rogers 54’), 2 Chad Gough (16 Zach Fenoglio 54’), 3 Kelepi Fifita, 4 Will Munro (2 Chad Gough 79’), 5 Kody O’Neil (19 Luke White HT), 6 Brendan Daly, 7 Peter Dahl (20 Malon Al-Jiboori 60’), 8 Hanco Germishuys, 9 Shaun Davies (capt.), 10 Will Magie (22 Ata Malifa 62’), 11 Harley Davidson, 12 Robbie Petzer, 13 Mika Kruse, 14 John Ryberg, 15 Dylan Taikato-Simpson
Not used: 18 Max Lum, 21 Mickey Bateman, 23 Campbell Johnstone
1 Hubert Buydens (17 Cam Falcon 48’), 2 Eric Howard (capt.), 3 Ben Tarr (16 Kavika Peniata 73’), 4 Ignacio Dotti, 5 Billy Stewart (21 Kane Thompson 48’), 6 Nikola Bursic (19 Moni Tonga’uiha 48’), 7 Zack Stryffeler, 8 Kyle Baillie (20 John Sullivan 62’), 9 Holden Yungert (22 Michael Baska 62’), 10 Scott Gale (23 Joeli Tikoisuva 65’), 11 Nick Feakes, 12 Con Foley, 13 Tristan Blewett, 14 Tim Maupin, 15 JP Eloff
Not used: 18 Doc Irey
Referee: Paul-Henri Courbier (USAR)
Assistants: Moe Chaudhry (USAR) & Kage Green (USAR)