Major League Rugby: Five things we learnt after close clashes while another Los Pumas star arrives

Joe Harvey
Major League Rugby action. Photo credit: Dallas v LA - Sherry Millik, Miami - Lauren Sopourn

Major League Rugby action. Photo credit: Dallas v LA - Sherry Millik, Miami - Lauren Sopourn

Following a weekend filled with extremely tight finishes, here we learnt in week 11 of the 2024 Major League Rugby season.

There are just five more rounds of action left in the regular season.

This week’s MLR action saw four close encounters while the Houston SaberCats maintained their dominant form in the Western Conference.

A week of close finishes

Only one game in Week 11 was decided by three points or less. It was a weekend that provided drama from start to finish and the real sign of a competition that has seen its competitiveness grow exponentially.

Among the highlights was the NOLA Gold’s 32-31 win over the Seattle Seawolves at the Gold Mine.

Two tries each for Jonah Mau’u and Callum Botchar, and the consistent goalkicking of Reece Botha and Dorian Jones helped the Louisiana club to their win.

Backing up a handsome win over Anthem RC last time out, NOLA look more comfortable in the East, with Old Glory DC still in hot pursuit thanks to their own hard-fought 22-21 win over the Chicago Hounds in the Midwest.

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Damm registers hat-trick score in last grasp win

While Jordan Chait’s walk-off penalty took the headlines in their 29-26 win against the Dallas Jackals, the performance of back-row forward Jason Damm can offer a serious amount of hope for USA Rugby fans.

Scoring a hat-trick against the Jackals, the 29-year-old is just days removed from being named in Scott Lawrence’s extended playing squad and has recaptured the form that got him an Eagles call-up two years ago.

Damm has already scored six tries in 2024, looks fitter and bigger than in years gone by, and could well have a starting spot this summer against Romania and Scotland.

Miami dig deep to beat Warriors

Thanks to the place-kicking of Santiago Videla, the Miami Sharks’ playoff ambitions remain well and truly alive.

Grinding out a 20-19 win over the Utah Warriors in Florida, a try for Videla and Manuel Ardao, and 10 extra points off the tee were enough to hand the team victory.

It is a result which means the Sharks are seven points adrift of Old Glory DC, whose own victory has improved their own chances of playing beyond the regular season.

Miami’s season has been a slow burn, with the side slowly finding their feet after a short preseason and could end with them playing knockout knockout rugby.

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Orland links up with Sharks

Staying in the waters of Miami, and the side has made another splash by recruiting Argentina stalwart Matias Orlando.

Ending his contract with Gallagher Premiership Rugby club Newcastle Falcons early, the 32-year-old centre links up with Los Pumas teammate Tomas Cubelli in Florida.

A team with strong links to South America, Orlando’s arrival hot on the heels of an impressive win can give the team hope of making the playoffs in their debut season.

Announced on the league’s deadline transaction day, the only other significant moves were made by the Chicago Hounds, who signed American Raptors prop Alu Taito, acquired Nicolas Revol-Pitt on loan from Dallas Jackals and confirmed the return of Juan Pen from his loan with Anthem RC.

SaberCats pick up biggest win of the week

The Houston SaberCats have maintained top spot in the Western Conference with a 38-15 win against Anthem RC.

Crossing the whitewash six times in Carolina, it was the most comprehensive performance of the weekend.

With Seattle’s loss to NOLA, Houston have extended their lead at the top of the West by four points and are now in pole position for a playoff spot.

From start to finish, the SaberCats’ performance was businesslike. With every performance, they are growing into a more well-rounded team, a frightening prospect with the postseason quickly approaching.

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