MLR Championship Series | First XV, Player of the Week
MLR Championship Series | First XV, Player of the Week
By Aaron Castro, League Correspondent
- Loosehead Prop, Blake Rogers (Glendale Raptors) – Blake provided the stability required of the Raptors’ attacking platform against Utah’s Angus Maclellan in the scrum. He was in position off a ruck to receive the pass from Shaun Davies and create positive meters past the gainline on every carry.
- Hooker, Pat Blair (San Diego Legion) – Pat’s tackle rate kept the Legion in the game early in the second half as the Seawolves took control. His physicality around the ruck on defense proved difficult to counter.
- Tighthead Prop, Tim Metcher (Seattle Seawolves) – Tim created stability and dominance at the point of attack for the Seawolves, forcing a turnover at four of the Legion’s scrums. Against the Raptors, he won the battle opposite Blake Rogers gaining the edge against Glendale’s powerful scrum.
- Left Lock, Dakota O’Neill (Glendale Raptors) – Cody has proved an important addition to the Raptors. His displayed the ability to drive the scrum forward, giving the Raptors a stable platform, and put Sam Figg in position to win 100% of their lineouts and steal five of Utah’s set pieces.
- Right Lock, Cam Polson (Seattle Seawolves) – Cam’s abilities to engage and drive provided the Seawolves a stable attacking platform, which dominated the Legion’s scrum. In the lineout, he helped put Riekert Hattingh in position to win 15-of-19 lineoutes.
- Blindside Flanker, Dylan Fawsitt (Glendale Raptors) – The Butcher’s shift to the backrow proved decisive for the Raptors. On defense he tackled with extreme physicality, putting his body on the line with every play.
- Openside Flanker, John Quill (Glendale Raptors) – John’s performance against both Utah and Seattle gave the Raptors a physical presence in and around rucks offensively and presented Glendale opportunities to gain territory and score early in each match.
- No 8., Riekert Hattingh (Seattle Seawolves) – Returning from injury, Riekert’s presence on the pitch was warranted. He helped win 15-of-19 lineouts for the Seawolves against the Legion. But it was his defensive work-rate that proved the difference – completing punishing tackle after punishing tackle. With multiple runs past the gainline, Hattingh gave the Seawolves great field position to convert for a try. In his second match back from injury, he scored the Seawolves go-ahead try in the Championship match against Glendale.
- Scrum-half, Phil Mack (Seattle Seawolves) – Not enough can be said about Phil as Scrum-Half or Head Coach for the Seawolves. He led the carefully-drilled attack with precision. Distributing the ball with excellent placement to either a waiting Peter Smith or pod of forwards to charge through the middle of the defensive line against both the Legion and Raptors in successive weeks.
- Fly-half, Will Magie (Glendale Raptors) – Playing the possession game, Will used his boot to put the Warriors in poor field position throughout the match, relieving pressure when needed. Running in the open field he fed the hungry hand of Bryce Campbell, Mika Kruse and Harley Davidson. Will’s kicking game kept the Raptors in the match against the Seawolves, continuously pinning Seattle deep in their own territory.
- Blindside Wing, Peter Tiberio (Seattle Seawolves) – Peter is the king of the intercept try, taking another to the house from 60 meters out. Reading the eyes of Fly-Half Peter Smith and Fullback Mat Turner, he dominated the kick-and-chase game by grabbing their kicks as they came down to gain excellent field position against San Diego.
- Inside Center, Shalom Suniula (Seattle Seawolves) – The Seawolves captain proved an excellent distributor in the midfield against both the Legion and Raptors during the Championship Series. He pushed the ball at pace to the likes of William Rasileka while also tucking the ball and forcing double tackles to create defensive fatigue.
- Outside Center, William Rasileka (Seattle Seawolves) – William, the Flying Fijian, cut through the San Diego defense to score the tying try early in the fourth quarter. This play changed the dynamic and shifted the momentum for the Seawolves as they began a scoring barrage that sealed their victory over the Legion. William quickly answered Glendale’s Bryce Campbell with a try of his own in the second half, keeping the Seawolves within striking distance of hoisting the America’s Championship Shield.
- Openside Wing, Tonata Lauti (Utah Warriors) – ‘Nata displayed why he finished the regular season as the MLR-leading try-scorer with great support running and vision to earn the Warriors first try. On defense he proved a decisive tackler when the Raptors broke deep into Utah’s territory, stopping a sure try at the 5m line.
- Fullback, Joe Pietersen (San Diego Legion) – A recent signing, Joe was brilliant in the kicking game and in space. Receiving a Seattle clearance kick, he cut through the ‘SeaWall’ with excellent evasive footwork, touching the ball down near the posts, giving himself an excellent conversion angle. He accounted for 14 of San Diego’s 24 points.
MVP of the Championship Series: Blindside Flanker, Vili Toluta’u (Seattle Seawolves) – WORK RATE, Vili’s work rate earned him an Eagles cap. His work rate around the ruck helped earn the Seawolves multiple penalties. His punishing tackles that he made with a smile helped create fatigue amongst the Legion. Against the Raptors in the Championship, he delivered a 70-minute effort as the bedrock of the Seawolves ‘SeaWall’ defense. Always in the mix jackalling the ball in the ruck, finding a Glendale ball carrier to tackle and placing his teammates in a position to gain the upper hand and achieve victory. Toluta’u was presented with an American-made Shinola watch from Commissioner Dean Howes.
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