Conference Eliminator Review
Written by Joe Harvey
After the Eliminator Round, the Seattle Seawolves and Old Glory DC progress to the Conference Finals.
Seattle overcame the Houston SaberCats, while DC knocked out current champions, the New York Ironworkers, to progress further in the playoffs.
Both were scintillating matchups, and MLR Correspondent, Joe Harvey, watched on as the action unfolded.
WESTERN ELIMINATOR | SEATTLE SEAWOLVES 37 – 26 HOUSTON SABERCATS
At the Starfire Sports Complex, the Seattle Seawolves bettered the Houston SaberCats to progress to the Western Conference Final.
Taking on the San Diego Legion in a week, Allen Clarke’s team continued their fine form from the regular season to book themselves on a flight to Southern California.
Early on, Seattle rode an early Houston storm. Davy Coetzer raced across the whitewash as the SaberCats launched a lethal attack from close range, although the score was chalked off as Louritz van der Schyff was deemed to obstruct opposition defenders.
Marching up the field in the minutes that followed, the Seawolves would break the deadlock thanks to an AJ Alatimu penalty kick.
Undeterred by the tumultuous start to proceedings, Houston’s early physical dominance continued. More drives towards the try line resulted in a yellow card for Seattle’s Sam Matenga, the probing passages of play after seeing Dom Akina cross in the corner.
Clearly disappointed with their opening gambit, Seattle surged ahead of their visitors.
Still down to 14 players, Charles Elton restored the lead for his team with a close-range score, and Adriaan Carelse’s run in before the break put 10 points between the two teams.
Starting the second period strongly, Seattle extended that lead further with back-to-back Alatimu penalties as the SaberCats struggled to regain momentum.
As the clock struck the 50-minute mark, Houston struck back. Crossing thanks to the brilliance of their fly-half, Coetzer saw open field, kicked the ball downfield, and collected it to score before converting his effort too.
From defence to attack, @Hou_Sabercats score their second try of the match through Davy Coetzer!
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) June 24, 2023
Gideon van Wyk was the next to benefit from Houston’s kicking play. Finding holes to attack, the Seawolves failed to gather a chip through from Gerrie Labuschagne, the powerful No.8 dragging defenders with him to score.
To arrest their second-half slide, Seattle’s captain, Riekert Hattingh, dotted down with just over 10 minutes to play.
Hattingh was involved in JP Smith’s late try for the home side too. Benefitting from loose Houston hands, Lopeti Aisea flung the ball to Jeremiah Sio, who in turn found Rhyno Herbst before Hattingh got in on the act.
Following the captain being dragged to the floor, the quick thinking of Smith saw him pluck the ball from the turf and race over to score.
Van der Schyff would put a full stop to proceedings with a late score for the SaberCats, the effort ultimately in vain, with the game beyond doubt.
Check out the match highlights.
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) June 25, 2023
EASTERN ELIMINATOR | NEW YORK IRONWORKERS – OLD GLORY DC
Old Glory DC is joining the New England Free Jacks in the Eastern Conference Final.
It was a startlingly quick start for the incumbent MLR champions, who picked Old Glory DC apart with barely 60 seconds on the clock.
Fa’asui Fuatai was the try scorer. New York drew in opposition defenders before popping the ball out to open attackers, with Tei Walden and Brendon O’Connor providing the final passes to the outside center.
In response, DC turned to the inform William Talataina. From the restart, Josh Syms’ side was on the front foot, battling into New York’s 22m, using the lineout to launch the Samoan across the try line.
Joaquin Diaz Bonilla gave Old Glory the lead with the conversion, before slotting a penalty several minutes later as DC’s recovery from the opening moments continued.
Following the drinks break, Bonilla had his kicking tee out once again to make the most of New York’s ill-discipline.
Ill discipline would be DC’s own undoing as New York was awarded a penalty try.
Gaining good territory thanks to the kicking of Connor Buckley, which led to another penalty, a drive toward the line, and Kyle Baillie collapsing the maul as the Ironworkers looked certain to score.
With Baillie in the sin bin, New York had the wind at their backs. Reduced to 13 as Lautaro Bavaro collapsed another maul, New York retook the lead from another set-piece drive which Dylan Fawsitt expertly orchestrated.
Before half-time, Bonilla struck a third penalty of the half; just three points
separated the two teams with plenty to play with 40 minutes still to play in Mount Vernon.
Fawsitt reopened the scoring in the second half, the hooker helped over the whitewash by O’Connor, with Sam Windsor striking the conversion to reignite the hometown crowd.
In response, DC scored through Baillie, the Canada international handing off Ed Fidow on his way over the whitewash.
With DC pressure mounting, New York prop Sam Davies saw yellow for early engagement at the maul. Opting to scrum following that penalty, the visiting team’s pressure shone through. The side awarded a penalty try by Federico Anselmi.
To make matters worse for New York, Tevita Langi saw yellow, meaning the hosts would have to see out much of the game with reduced numbers.
With less than two minutes to play, Old Glory secured their place in the Eastern Conference Final with a scorching Kurt Baker try.
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) June 26, 2023
Coming as a result of a tackle that dislodged the ball, Danny Tusitala broke through a disorganized defense and offloaded to his full-back, who jubilantly dotted the ball down.
A late DaQuan Perry score would add some gloss to the scoreline for New York, with DC marching on to New England next weekend.
Perry and @RugbyNewYork not giving up the fight
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) June 26, 2023
DALLAS (August 20, 2023) – Major League Rugby (MLR) today announced a
The Professional Rugby Team Secures the AutoNation Sports Field at the Florida
For seven consecutive Fridays, NOLA Gold is making an event of every
Written by Joe Harvey | Photos Provided by Rick Rose Ricky Rose
Written by Joe Harvey Picked second overall in the 2023 Major League
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