Giteau, Ashley-Cooper shine in Major League Rugby debut

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Matt Giteau of the LA Giltinis converts a try against the New England Free Jacks at Los Angeles Coliseum. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images for LA Giltinis)
Matt Giteau of the LA Giltinis converts a try against the New England Free Jacks at Los Angeles Coliseum. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images for LA Giltinis)

Adam Ashley-Cooper scored a try and former Wallabies team-mate Matt Giteau had a perfect day with the boot as the Australian duo helped the Los Angeles Giltinis get off to a winning start in Major League Rugby on Saturday.

Ashley-Cooper dotted down for a second-half try in a comfortable 42-27 victory over the New England Free Jacks at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum while Giteau slotted five out of five conversion attempts.

The 38-year-old Giteau and 36-year-old Ashley-Cooper are two of the most prominent veteran internationals to join Major League Rugby, which kicked off its fourth season on Saturday.

The Giltinis are an expansion franchise making their debut this season in a 12-team competition featuring 16 rounds, culminating on 1 August with the championship game.

Major League Rugby shut down last year after five rounds due to Covid-19, but has relaunched this season as the coronavirus situation across the United States improves steadily.

The Giltinis are playing their home games at the iconic Los Angeles Coliseum, the venue for the 1932 and 1984 Olympics.

California's Covid-19 restrictions meant Saturday's season-opener was played before empty stands at the 78 000-capacity Coliseum, although limited numbers of spectators are set to return next month.

Meanwhile, Canada international wing DTH van der Merwe claimed a piece of MLR history by scoring the first try in Giltinis history.

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