MLR Week 10 | First XV, Player of the Week
MLR Week 10 | First XV, Player of the Week
By Aaron Castro, League Correspondent
- Loosehead Prop, Alex Tucci (Utah Warriors) – Alex has been battling a tight hamstring over the past few weeks and answered the call early off the bench to stabilize the attacking platform of Utah. Scoring a try in the fourth quarter of the match, he put the Warriors in striking distance of the SaberCats.
- Hooker, Lindsey Stevens (Houston Sabercats) – Skeeter helped the SaberCats achieve 100% success rate on their own scrums and stole a Warriors restart. Excellent in the lineout, the ball was placed for the SaberCats to win 10 of 11 restarts from the touch line.
- Tighthead Prop, Adam Macklin (Houston SaberCats) – Adam’s switch back to the tighthead position in the absence of Paul Mullen has been outstanding for the SaberCats, providing the right anchor of their excellent attacking platform. His high percentage tackle rate on defense stymied the Utah attack in the mid-field.
- Left Lock, Casey Rock (Glendale Raptors) – Casey was one of the few brights spots on the pitch in San Diego for the Raptors — providing solid drive from the lock position in scrums and breaking through the Legion’s line to force multiple double tackles throughout the match.
- Right Lock, Matt Trouville (Houston SaberCats) – Matt’s drive for the SaberCats provided Skeeter and Adam excellent drive to achieve a 100% success rate on Houston’s restarts. In the lineout he proved a great threat cutting Utah’s success rate to 66%.
- Blindside Flanker, Alec Barton (San Diego Legion) – Alec’s work-rate in the mid-field frustrated the Glendale offense. Barton attacked the ruck numerous times, making it difficult for Glendale scrum-half Jake Christmann to provide service to Maximo De Achaval or a waiting pod of forwards throughout the match.
- Openside Flanker, Cecil Garber (Houston SaberCats) – Cecil’s presence around the pitch has been great throughout the season, he capped his final match for the SaberCats early to help tie the match up at 7-7.
- No 8., Drew Gaffney (San Diego Legion) – Gaffney’s Man of the Match performance came from his physical running and threat in the lineout. San Diego secured their second try of the match when Drew brought the ball down, established the maul, rotating back and scoring.
- Scrum-half, Nick Boyer (San Diego Legion) – Nick’s been a revelation at scrum-half for the Legion, providing a physical presence around the ruck. The Legion won all 14 of their scrums as he dug the ball out, delivering quick service to Tadgh Leader.
- Fly-half, Tadhg Leader (San Diego Legion) – Tadgh scored 13 of the Legion’s 23 points on three penalties and two conversions. When Glendale attempted to attack the hinge point (scrum-half and fly-half) he showed his physicality through his high tackle rate. His clearance kicks and and kicks to touch gave the Legion excellent field position all night against Raptors.
- Blindside Wing, Fetu’u Vainikolo (Utah Warriors) – Fets is a threat every time he has the ball in hand from five or a hundred meters out. He demonstrated this from the wing and center positions on Saturday night, cutting through the SaberCats defense and securing a try-assist by offloading to Tonati Lauti.
- Inside Center, AJ Tui’neau (Utah Warriors) – AJ’s strength in the tackle provided Utah the chances needed to come from behind in the second half versus the SaberCats. When he took the ball, he carried physically through the Houston defense in the center of the pitch.
- Outside Center, Ryan Matyas (San Diego Legion) – Ryan has been a man on fire for the Legion on defense and offense. Taking the long ball on the lineout, he punished the Glendale defensive gap, touching down for the Legion’s first try of the match.
- Openside Wing, Takudzwa Ngwenya (San Diego Legion) – Since returning from injury, Zee has been the careful general in the Legion backline. He did it again versus the Raptors, taking hard meters deep along the touchline, proving almost untouchable.
- Fullback, Don Pati (Utah Warriors) – Don’s performance in the backfield with his cross and clearance kicking kept pressure off the Warriors inside their 22-meter line, granting his team the chance to come back against the SaberCats.
Player of Week: Openside Wing, Tonata Lauti (Utah Warriors) – Tonata had the speed to glide into the try-zone hard from the wing, scoring two tries. The first came by sidestepping a SaberCats defender following a long pass by Johnny Linehan. His go ahead try came from an offload by Vainikolo after he’d received a long pass with both players sprinted along the touchline. Tonata’s two tries in this match make him the leading try-scorer in the inaugural regular season of Major League Rugby.
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