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Houston SaberCats vs NOLA Gold - Match Preview

We get our first taste of MLR action

In our first taste of Major League Rugby action, the Houston SaberCats host NOLA Gold in pre-season action. For Houston this is their eighth pre-season match, while this is the second for NOLA. This is Education Night and Mardi Gras Night for the SaberCats.

Houston looks to continue the work they've put in the past few months. Alex Elkins gets his first taste of action for the SaberCats. After getting called into the Eagles camp for the Americas Rugby Championship, Elkins joins the SaberCats for the Major League Rugby season.

Head Coach Justin Fitzpatrick is continuing to build chemistry between his players. While he has rotated players throughout the pre-season, the lineups have largely remained the same. That chemistry has been building throughout the pre-season, you can see it in previous games with slick passes, cross field kicks, and great defense.

NOLA Gold Rugby hasn't been together as long as Houston and they are looking to get up to speed. This is NOLA's second pre-season match, as they beat the Capital Selects 68-15. NOLA had a good game against the Selects, but there were some issues that needed to be fixed.

NOLA had some problems in the scrum, ball handling issues, and some penalty issues in the match against the Selects. This match against the SaberCats is a step up in competition, as we will see the difference between teams in a professional environment and a club environment in this match.

NOLA will be missing Nikola Bursic as he is on ARC duty with Chile. But Hubert Buydens is in the line up after being released from Canada duty. This should provide a boost to the NOLA front row.

There are three match-ups to watch in this game. The first is between the back rows. Houston's back row has been their engine room during the pre-season. Kyle Sumsion and Cecil Garber  have been a couple of workhorses for the SaberCats. Matt Trouville is taking the eight-man reigns for this match. NOLA's back row should provide a good test for Houston. Vince Jobo and Matt Hughston had a great game against the Selects. Now we'll see how they deal with the step up in competition. Sebastian Kalm is the engine for NOLA's pack and he'll be ready to go.

The second match-up is between the SaberCats Fiji combination in Josua Vici and Osea Kolinisau and NOLA's back line. Jojo Tikoisuva, Peceli Rinakama, and JP Eloff are going to have their hands full. The last match-up is between Chauntez Jackson and NOLA's front row subs. Jackson is a newcomer to the game of rugby, so this will be a step up in competition for the big man.

This should be a good match-up in the first match between Major League Rugby teams. One thing NOLA does have going for them is they have knowledge of what Houston likes to run; whereas NOLA has only played one game, which is difficult to glean a lot of knowledge from. Houston has been together a little longer than NOLA and that might be the deciding factor.

Kickoff is set for 7pm Central Time. Grant Cole is going to call the action with Brett Mills on Mixlr.

NOLA Gold Rugby
1 Hubert Buydens, 2 Eric Howard (VC), 3 Ben Tarr, 4 Myles McQuone, 5 John Sullivan, 6 Vince Jobo, 7 Matt Hughston, 8 Sebastian Kalm, 9 Holden Yungert, 10 Taylor Howden (C), 11 Jojo Tikoisuva, 12 Zack Stryffeier, 13 Moni Tonga'uiha, 14 Peceli Rinakama, 15 JP Eloff

Bench: 16 Derrek Van Klein, 17 Cameron Falcon, 18 Matt Wirken, 19 William Waguespack, 20 Bobby Johns, 21 Michael Baska, 22 Melvin DeSouza, 23 Alec Janotka, 24 John Stapleton, 25 Todd Dupre

Houston SaberCats
1 Adam Macklin, 2 Lindsey Stevens, 3 Paul Mullen, 4 Robert Meeson, 5 Justin Allen, 6 Kyle Sumsion (C), 7 Cecil Garber, 8 Matt Trouville, 9 Connor Murphy, 10 Sam Windsor, 11 Josua Vici, 12 Conor Mills, 13 Malacchi Esdale, 14 Alex Elkins, 15 Osea Kolinisau

Bench: 16 Diego Maquieira, 17 Kenneth Hepburn, 18 Jake Turnbull, 19 Charlie Hewitt, 20 Chris Parker, 21 Chris Coyle, 22 Chris Slater, 23 Zach Pangelinan, 24 Dan Paul, 25 Chauntez Jackson

~Josh Fredlund