MLR Week 9 | First XV, Player of the Week
MLR Week 9 | First XV, Player of the Week
By Aaron Castro, League Correspondent
Photo: Seth McConnell
- Loosehead Prop, Luke White (Glendale Raptors) – Luke came on early in the second half replacing Blake Rogers, a move which established a stable scrummaging platform. This proved a difference maker as Seattle tighthead Tim Metcher had been winning the battle early.
- Hooker, Pat Blair (San Diego Legion) – Pat won the matchup in the lineout with his ball placement, battling against Austin’s highly effective jumper Ben Mitchell. Blair imposed himself physically around the contentious breakdown to give Nick Boyer time to make the correct pass.
- Tighthead Prop, Tim Metcher (Seattle Seawolves) – Tim won the battle early to establish a solid platform against Glendale loosehead Blake Rogers. He was physical with the ball and dominated in tackles around the breakdown to stifle the Raptors attack early on.
- Left Lock, Ben Mitchell (Austin Elite) – Ben continues to be one of the best lineout jumpers in the league, proving a nuisance early and forcing SD to adjust their strategy in the second quarter. When he had the ball, he made the right offload for the next Austin Elite runner to make positive meters.
- Right Lock, Saia ‘Uhila (Utah Warriors) – Saia’s presence at right lock gave the Warriors a second strong drive in the engine room. He is a powerful runner who drove up the Gold’s tackle count as he gained positive meters in the middle of the pitch.
- Blindside Flanker, John Wayne Cullen (Utah Warriors) – Since returning from injury, John has brought much-needed physicality to the Utah ball carriers in the absence of Paul Lasike. When he’s tackled, he gains an additional 3~ meters before he goes down, and cleanly presents the ball for scrum-half Joe Nicholls.
- Openside Flanker, Ross Deacon (Austin Elite) – Ross has stepped in to start at open-side flanker, bringing creative carries and crushing tackles for the Elite — which is needed all around in the pitch in the absence of Hanco “The Terminator” Germishuys.
- No 8., Matt Hughston (NOLA Gold) – Matt is the constant enforcer for the Gold with his work-rate around the breakdown both offensively and defensively. He took the Gold off their back foot when he set the ball down for a try after the Warriors had gone up early due to some heroics by Don Pati.
- Scrum-half, Nick Boyer (San Diego Legion) – Nick’s ruck management and ball placement for the Legion created gaps in the Austin defense. Boyer’s athletic carries led to him scoring a try early for the Legion, keeping their lead unreachable for the rest of the match.
- Fly-half, Maximo De Achaval (Glendale Raptors) – Maximo’s kicking continues to be the icing on the Glendale cake. This is the second week in a row he’s set up Glendale’s first try, this time with a grubber kick chased down by outside center Chad London to put the Raptors back in the match.
- Blindside Wing, AJ Tu’ineau (Utah Warriors) – AJ put his body on the line in the first-half, breaking through the Gold defense to create a positive field position for Joe Nicholls to distribute the ball off the tackle.
- Inside Center, Mika Kruse (Glendale Raptors) – The young center continued the Raptors’ unstoppable offensive scoring the first try of the second half. He continues to take on and tackle physically bigger players when attempting to come through the middle of the field within his defensive assignments.
- Outside Center, Chad London (Glendale Raptors) – Chad London imposed himself physically on defense over the Seawolves with crushing hits, keeping the Raptors in the match. But what earned him man of the match honors was chasing down a grubber kick from his fly-half for a try. Early in the third quarter, he poached an errant Seawolves pass and burned through the resetting defense for his second try of the match.
- Openside Wing, Tim Maupin (NOLA Gold) – Tim brings rapid pace to the Gold back line. Taking the call off a five-meter scrum, he received an inside pass from captain Taylor Howden and plowed through the Utah defense to score the Gold’s last try of the first half.
- Fullback, Don Pati (Utah Warriors) – Don Pati led the Warriors offensive efforts early with his tries at minute 5 and minute 9 as he danced and cut around Gold defenders. He pushed through the Gold defense to gain valuable meters rather than returning the ball with a cross-field kick back to Baska, Howden, or Eloff.
Player of Week: Fly-half, JP Eloff (NOLA Gold) – JP’s crucial moment came early with his drop goal deep in the Utah half to bring the Gold’s score to eight points. He scored multiple try-assists and a try during the match by slicing through the Utah backline. Eloff accounted for 23 of the Gold’s 46 points.
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