King Of The North: Week 7
The seventh week of the 2021 Major League Rugby season brought plenty of drama and the Canadians were right in the thick of it. Saturday’s matches saw a double-header at the LA Coliseum. The opening match featured Josh and Travis Larsen facing off against each other for the first time in their professional careers. Travis also noted that it was the first time they have seen each other in about two years as well. Josh and the Free Jacks came out on top. DTH van der Merwe’s LA Giltinis continue to be a juggernaut. Van der Merwe scored two tries to bring his total to 7.
The Giltinis ran away with another win. Sunday saw the NOLA Gold and Rugby United New York each come from behind and earn important wins for their clubs. NOLA had a dominant 2nd half effort against the Arrows. They were led by their Canadian contingent as captain Kyle Baillie and hooker Eric Howard had strong games. Neither one of them earned the King of the North crown this week. However, the crown still appears to have more Gold in it than ever before.
When NOLA first announced their lineup, Lachlan Kratz was set to make his MLR debut off the bench. However, a late change saw JP du Plessis taken out of the lineup and Kratz was moved to the vacant outside centre spot. Kratz stepped on the pitch and put in a full 80-minute shift in his MLR debut.
Not only did Kratz put in a full shift, he was a major factor in the game. Kratz had 77m carried, the third most of any player in the game. Kratz made a handful of strong tackles and made an impact at the breakdown.
Some of Kratz’ highlights included a brilliant line break and offload to Damien Stevens that allowed NOLA to gain territory, ultimately leading to Cam Dolan’s try. In the 66th minute, Juan Cappiello sent a pass Kratz’s way. Ben LeSage got a great jump off the defensive line and was locked onto Kratz. Kratz demonstrated a great bit of skill to quickly tap the ball onto Hanno Dirksen. With the skillful play, Kratz showed us that he is willing to take a hit to make a play (and that was a huge hit).
Kratz’s performance is one of the great MLR rookie debuts we have seen. That is saying quite a lot considering the 2021 rookie class has been impressive so far this season. The story behind Kratz’s debut is also pretty amazing. As Karen Gasbarino reported, Kratz just joined NOLA during their week 3 bye week. He participated in two practices before being offered a contract. Kratz then worked his way into the lineup and took full advantage of his opportunity. Kratz’s effort landed him a spot on the First XV of the week. Now, Kratz can add a King of the North crown to his accolades.
Honourable mentions go out to Kratz’ teammates Kyle Baillie and Eric Howard who were also great in their win. Additional mentions to the lads on the other side as well. Lucas Rumball, Ben LeSage, and Mason Flesch were all great. As mentioned above DTH van der Merwe had a two try performance against Old Glory DC. You can catch an all-DTH edition of the Canadian tries of the week below!
Kings of the North 2021: