A high-voltage try blitz in the second half from the LA Giltinis scorched the Dallas Jackals 56-12 in Arlington, Texas tonight.
The disjointed Giltinis of the first half (7-all) transformed in the second period with seven sharp tries to show off the team’s attacking potency.
The bonus point victory guaranteed the 9-5 Giltinis (49 points) one of the three play-off spots from the Western Conference of Major League Rugby.
Only beating Utah (May 28) and Seattle (June 5) in the final two games of the regular season will guarantee the Giltinis stay in the top two ahead of third-placed Houston (46).
The Giltinis had a split personality today. The outfit that romped through the second half 49-5 was all intent, passing polish, speed and confidence compared to the off-key first half performance.
“That was a really good second 40 minutes but I view the game with mixed emotions because I don’t think we respected Dallas enough early on,” suspended Giltinis head coach Stephen Hoiles said.
“Once we treasured the ball more and put the foot down, by being more clinical, things started to happen for us.
“We had strong contributions in that second half and it was a real lift to have Luke Carty play for the first time this season with 29 minutes off the bench.”
Because of his one-game MLR suspension, Hoiles was forced to watch the game on his laptop, connected to the TV, in his hotel room and relayed messages to team management and assistant coach Adam Ashley-Cooper at Choctaw Stadium.
Former Wallaby Ashley-Cooper was the in-game coach and delivered the direct half-time words to get the team back on track against the lowly Jackals, who fall to 0-15.
Whatever he said clicked. Two minutes after the resumption following half-time, hooker Lindsey Stevens was spearing over for the first of his two tries from well-worked mauls from 5m lineouts.
They were sweet moments for Stevens who lived part of his early life on a ranch in Texas.
From the kick-off, the Giltinis were on the gallop again with a sweeping long-range raid. It was a Giltinis classic with slick passes from forwards Charlie Abel and Luke White mixed with the sharp running of Billy Meakes and Tom Mitchell before winger John Ryberg finished it for the try (below).
USA Eagles flyhalf Carty ran on at the 51-minute mark which freed Harrison Goddard to switch to his specialist spot at scrumhalf. Carty, back from a pectoral muscle tear, made an instant mark with a sharp inside pass to put Mitchell through a gap which was finished for the try by replacement back Ben LeSage.
Carty’s strong chat on the field and his four-from-four effort as goalkicker were further pointers he will be invaluable as a game manager and weapon for the play-offs.
Captain-for-the-day Meakes might have scored himself late in the game but he unselfishly threw a final pass to Santa Monica Rugby Club lock Sam Peri.
On full-time, replacement prop Marco Fepulea’i scored a pick-and-go try to complete a big night for the front-row. For the earlier Goddard try, prop partner Charlie Abel had careered away from the ruckbase on a 25m run with dreadlocks flying before sending his scrumhalf over.
“We got an excellent lift from the bench considering we had to play with just seven reserves because (forward) Corey Thomas pulled up sore with a knee injury when we landed in Dallas and couldn’t play. It’s always good to see a larger man like Charlie running faster than expected,” Hoiles said.
The Giltinis lacked the finishing touches to make anything of the chances they did have in the opening half.
There were high moments early. No.8 Langilangi Haupeakui jolted a turnover from Dallas with a strong tackle, centre Luke Burton made three strong charges in an early raid and Englishman Mitchell (below) relished his start at fullback.
Just three minutes into the game, Mitchell made an exhilarating 40m run from the backfield past four defenders before being bundled into touch.
It took 32 minutes for the Giltinis to get on the scoreboard and when they did it came through a moment of individual brilliance.
Goddard, starting at flyhalf, ran from the backfield, popped a chip kick over the defence and regathered the ball one-handed.
He linked with standout lock Nathan Den Hoedt, who delivered the final pass for Meakes to score under the posts.
The last-placed Jackals were rewarded for a spirited first half with a strikeback try to Argentinian No.8 Conrado Roura to level the scores at 7-all at the main break.
LA GILTINIS 56
Tries: Lindsey Stevens (42 min, 56) Billy Meakes (32 min), John Ryberg (44), Ben LeSage (52), Harrison Goddard (70), Sam Peri (76), Marco Fepulea’i (80)
Conversions: Luke Burton (42, 44), Luke Carty (52, 56, 70, 80)
DALLAS JACKALS 12
Tries: Conrado Roura (37), Lui Sitama (71)
Conversion: Adriaan Carelse (37)
Venue: Choctaw Stadium, Arlington