The LA Giltinis have been told to treasure the ball far more to earn a bounce-back victory against the San Diego Legion in Saturday’s Cali Cup showdown.
The Giltinis have made five changes to the starting side for the rivalry match from 4pm (PST) against their closest neighbours at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
All the positive points from last weekend’s 28-19 loss to the Utah Warriors were muted by one massive handbrake.
“We were tactically good for a lot of the game and spent a phenomenal amount of time in the attacking zone but 27 turnovers just ruins everything,” Giltinis coach Stephen Hoiles said.
“Treasuring possession more and extra patience have been this week’s big focus to get it right against San Diego.”
The Giltinis have promoted USA Eagles standout Joe Taufete’e to starting hooker after his debut for the club off the bench against Utah.
Fellow Eagle Hanco Germishuys and Corey Thomas also win an elevation from the reserves to the remodelled backrow because Adam Ashe (neck) and Angus Cottrell (hip) are both out.
In the backs, scrumhalf Harrison Goddard returns after a week off and the all-clear from COVID-19. Young Tas Smith drops to the bench but his excellent showing against Utah was a strong audition for more time at No.9.
Utility back Luke Burton’s recovery from a staph infection sees him slotted in at inside centre. Backline ace Billy Meakes moves out a spot to outside centre.
The centre changes mean Will Chambers will start on the wing for the Giltinis.
“Joe Taufete'e is quality so we are going to start him at hooker and use Andrew off the bench,” Hoiles said.
“Harrison is terrific for us every game. Tas was impressive in his first start so we’ll look for ways to give him more time.
“Luke Burton’s best footy was played at inside centre last year so it’s a comfortable change there.”
Former England backrower and captain Chris Robshaw, Eagles flyhalf Will Hooley and goalkicking fullback Joe Pietersen are other Legion threats.
The grand Cali Cup is up for grabs every time the southern Californian rivals meet. The Giltinis have it in their trophy cabinet, courtesy of a 19-13 win in San Diego last June.
“The Cali Cup is a great trophy. Rivalries build support and interest in Major League Rugby and we are all keen to keep the silverware where it is,” Hoiles said.
LA GILTINIS (v San Diego Legion)
1 Luke White, 2 Joe Taufete’e, 3 Charlie Abel, 4 Dave Dennis (capt), 5 Nathan Den Hoedt, 6 Christian Poidevin, 7 Hanco Germishuys, 8 Corey Thomas, 9 Harrison Goddard, 10 Orene Ai’i, 11 Ryan James, 12 Luke Burton, 13 Billy Meakes, 14 Will Chambers, 15 Jordan Trainor
Replacements: 16 Andrew Tuala, 17 Djustice Sears-Duru, 18 Marco Fepulea’i, 19 Zach Bonte, 20 Cyrille Cama, 21 Tas Smith, 22 Kahanu Koi, 23 Cristian Rodriguez
IN: Cyrille Cama, Harrison Goddard, Luke Burton
OUT: Angus Cottrell, Adam Ashe, D’Montae Noble
The Giltinis face the San Diego Legion at the Coliseum at 4pm (PST) on Saturday. The match will be broadcast live on Bally Sports SoCal and Bally Sports West in Los Angeles. The match can also be viewed live on The Rugby Network internationally.