MLR Week 5 | First XV, Player of the Week
MLR Week 5 | First XV, Player of the Week
By Aaron Castro, League Correspondent
- Loosehead Prop, Alex Tucci (Utah Warriors) – Alex’s scrummaging has continued to improve from week to week. He’s helped establish a stable attacking platform for the left side of the Warriors scrum, and when he had the ball he fought for every extra meter against the Seawolves.
- Hooker, Lote Tu’ipulotu (Utah Warriors) – Lote was smart on offense with his two tries, the second one coming off a quick inside play that confused the Seattle defense when he walked into the try zone unabated.
- Tighthead Prop, Paul Mullen (Houston SaberCats) – Paul’s first start for the ‘Cats was much awaited. He won the restart battle against Hubert Buydens on SaberCat scrums giving the scrum-half the opportunity to distribute the ball to the ‘Cats backs.
- Left Lock, Matt Jensen (Utah Warriors) – Matt continues to provide excellent drive in the scrum, which was seen by Utah continuing to win their restarts. He’s underrated as a physical runner as he always makes positive meters — this was on display against the Seawolves.
- Right Lock, Matt Wirken (NOLA Gold) – Matt’s strength in the scrum was demonstrated by the positive meters gained during Gold restarts. In a match with sloppy lineouts, he provided Nola the ability to regain the ball.
- Blindside Flanker, Tesimoni Tongauiha (NOLA Gold) – The converted center was a natural in the back row. He played great defense in the open field for the Gold by completing a high percentage of his tackle attempts.
- Openside Flanker, Matt Hughston (NOLA Gold) – Matt continues to be a rangy ball hawk on defense, tracking down ball carriers in the middle of the field. When the ball is in his hands, he makes forward progress every time.
- No 8., Riekert Hattingh (Seattle Seawolves) – Returning from the concussion protocol to captain his team, Riekert led the Seawolves with a defensive effort by tracking down ball carriers early in the first half.
- Scrum-half, Phil Mack (Seattle Seawolves) – Phil had arguably his best game of the season. His ruck management and ball speed were lightning quick. His decision making near the try line to score his first try was excellent. His vision and pace to score his second try demonstrated why he is an international player.
- Fly-half, Sam Windsor (Houston SaberCats) – Sam was an offensive scoring machine for the SaberCats. When he has the ball in hand, he always finds the holes in the opposing team’s defense, which he did against the Gold. He kept the ‘Cats in the game with his foot by kicking two penalties and two conversions.
- Blindside Wing, Peter Tiberio (Seattle Seawolves) – Peter was all around the pitch with multiple try assists on line breaks past the gainline. He completed six tackles during the Seawolves’ first half defensive stand, leading to a turnover.
- Inside Center, Paul Lasike (Utah Warriors) – Paul continues to lead the Warriors offense whenever he has the ball in hand. He is especially skilled at breaking past the gainline, giving Utah great field position and requires multiple Seawolves to complete the tackle.
- Outside Center, William Rasileka (Seattle Seawolves) – William scored the Seawolves’ first try of the match off an assist from Peter Tiberio. His presence was felt by the Warriors with his punishing tackles throughout the match.
- Openside Wing, Malacchi Esdale (Houston SaberCats) – Malacchi was aggressive on the pitch early for the SaberCats, forcing a turnover. His high tackle rate in the first half kept the SaberCats within reach.
- Fullback, Mat Turner (Seattle Seawolves) – Mat’s speed out of the backfield was on display with his support running as he received an offload from George Barton to score a try. Defensively, he put his body on the line tackling Paul Lasike multiple times throughout the match.
Player of Week: Blindside Flanker, Vili Toluta’u (Seattle Seawolves) – Vili had a monstrous performance for the Seawolves in open play on offense and defense. When he had the ball in hand, he gained punishing meters against the Warriors, but his scores came when he was in the right place at the right time. On defense, he laid punishing tackle after punishing tackle. With quick thinking he was able to scoop the ball out of the Seawolves’ try zone on a turnover pushing it past the 5-meter line which then put the pressure back on the Warriors late in the match.
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