Austin Tops Utah for Second-Straight Win
Austin Tops Utah for Second-Straight Win
By: MLR Correspondent, Colton Strickler
Photo: Norma Salinas
After Austin Elite Rugby’s dominant win over the San Diego Legion just a week earlier, player-coach Todd Clever made it clear how important it was to keep the wins coming at home.
It seems as if his team got the message. Austin (3-3) picked up their second win in just as many weeks in a 41-33 win over the Utah Warriors (2-4) on Friday evening. Austin hasn’t trailed in either of their last two matches.
With six games under their belt, Austin is clicking at the right time and they are doing it on both sides of the ball. The Elite’s first try of the Friday’s match came on a 90-metre interception by wing Alex Faison-Donahoe. Fly-half Timothee Guillimin wasn’t able to hit the conversion in the tough Texas wind but did give Austin an 8-0 lead a few minutes later when he nailed a penalty kick.
Utah answered back with a try of their own when their speedy wing Tonata Lauti caught a wide pass outside and danced his way in for the Warriors’ first try. Fly-half Johnny Linehan couldn’t convert, but the Warriors were very much alive.
The 20-minute water break separated a try by both sides. Austin’s high-flying fullback Zinzan Elan-Puttick scored his first try of the match, and second in as many weeks, to give the Elite a 13-5 lead over the Warriors until Utah’s outside centre A.J. Tu’ineau rumbled in for a try himself. Unlike Guilliman, Linehan was able to convert and the Warriors trailed by just one point.
The try that busted the match open came a few minutes later when eight-man Pedrie Wannenburg took a pick out of the back of a scrum in for a try, shedding multiple tacklers on his way in. Guillimin conquered the wind to make his first conversion of the match, giving Austin a 20-12 lead at halftime.
The Elite never looked back.
Elan-Puttick extended their lead inside the first minute of the second half when he took an inside ball from inside centre and captain Andrew Suniula in for his second try of the match. Austin followed that up with a try when Marcus Walsh finished off a Hanco Germishuys line break by throwing a dummy that froze Utah in their tracks. Guillimin made one of the two conversions, and Austin settled into a 32-12 lead, their largest of the night.
Utah made an attempt to get back into the match, but Guillimin slowly put them away with penalty kicks. The Warriors’ cut into the 20-point deficit when Tevita Tameilau punched in their third try of the match. Linehan’s conversion made it 32-19, but Austin essentially wiped away the work with back-to-back Guillimin kicks.
The Warriors weren’t discouraged by the deficit and it showed when Ray Forrester punched in their fourth try of the match on a pick-and-go to give the Warriors the ever-important bonus point.
With the game essentially out of reach, each side had one more score in them. Guillimin added a penalty kick while Utah’s Iniki Fa’amusili picked up one more try for the Warriors. Austin came out on top of the 41-33 affair.
Both sides picked up a bonus point in the match. With 17 points on the season, Austin moved into third place in the standings ahead of the final two matches of Week 7. Utah’s 15 points move them into the fourth and final playoff spot.
Austin will look to keep their home winning streak alive when they welcome the first place Seattle Seawolves to town on Friday, June 8 while Utah will enjoy a week off.
Austin Elite Rugby
Tries: Alex Faison-Donahoe, Zinzan Elan-Puttick (2), Pedrie Wannenburg, Marcus Walsh,
Penalties: Timothee Guillimin (4/5)
Conversions: Timothee Guillimin (2/5)
Tries: Tonata Lauti, A.J. Tu’ineau, Tevita Tameilau, Ray Forrester, Iniki Fa’amusili
Penalties: Johnny Linehan (0/1)
Conversions: Johnny Linehan (3/4), Ben Nicholls (1/1)
Colton can be reached at email@example.com.
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