Round 1 | Match Reports
Houston SaberCats 21-12 Colorado Raptors
The SaberCats’ third season began just as their second season ended, by winning. Early in the match Colorado conceded a penalty giving Sam Windsor his first shot at goal, putting the SaberCats up 3-0. The Raptors surged after the restart, but Robbie Petzer was pushed into touch with a last ditch safety valve from the Houston defense.
Houston’s dominant scrum from their first two seasons returned. The scrum set up an attacking platform that ultimately yielded a try by Sam Windsor after Matias Freyre and Tiaan Loots cut up the Raptors defense.
The Raptors then found their wings with a response late in the first half when John Ryberg crashed through a tackle for Colorado’s first points to make it 8-5. Brendan Daly then conceded a yellow card as the Colorado scrum and set-pieces continued to struggle against Houston’s dominant scrum.
Momentarily halted by Daly’s infringement, the delayed Houston attack found paydirt as Adriaan Booysen saw daylight and ended the half with a try to put the SaberCats up 13-5.
With Daly back on, the Raptor’s set-piece found its footing with a lineout and driving maul that was illegally sacked by the Houston defense. Tomas Quinlan was unable to convert the penalty for the Raptors.
Houston continued with pressure, pushing the ball wide and through the Raptors’ defense as a chip kick by De Wet Roos left Mika Kruse thunder-struck when Malacchi Esdale collected the ball for a try.
Finally getting their hands on the ball, the Raptors marched down the pitch. Ata Malifa shifted a pass to Kelepi Fifita who brought the score to 18-12 following a conversion by Petzer.
Sam Windsor capped off the match when the Raptors committed an infringement giving him another shot on goal and finishing the scoring at 21-12 in the final minutes.
NOLA 46 – 13 Old Glory DC
There were new beginnings for both these sides as NOLA played their first game at the Shrine on Airline and Old Glory made their first appearance in Major League Rugby.
USA Eagle, Cam Dolan, opened the scoring with a try, Carl Meyer converting for his new side. Malcolm May then crashed over the line to extend NOLA’s lead, allowing for another Meyer conversion.
After scoring a penalty, DC flyhalf Jason Robertson, kicked the ball across to Canadian international Doug Fraser, allowing the wing to score DCs first MLR try.
NOLA went into half-time with a 22-8 lead after a Moni Tongauiha try and Meyer penalty, gave the Gold a commanding lead.
In the second half, Tongauiha scored another try, the effort being converted. Dolan would score his second try of the afternoon, after picking the ball up from the base of the scrum, Meyer kicking the converting kick once more.
Argentine wing Julian Dominguez then opened his account for NOLA, shrugging off two defenders to score a try on debut. Dolan then completed his hat-trick of tries when collecting a loose ball to power over the try line.
DC did finish the scoring, a Dylan Taikato-Simpson kick being collected by Mike Dabulus to register a consolation try.
Rugby ATL 28-19 Utah Warriors
Utah pushed deep into Atlanta territory and with a penalty conceded by the home side, Utah quickly kicked a penalty going up 3-0. Minutes later Utah drove deep into Atlanta territory, with another penalty by Hagen Schulte pushing Utah up 0-6.
Rugby ATL answered by forcing a turnover. Utah conceded a penalty and Duncan Van Schalkwyk’s kick brought the score to 3-6. Utah answered rapidly after the restart and ATL penalty, with Schulte making a long kick extending the Warrior’s lead to 3-9.
Trading possessions after the restart and penalty by Atlanta, Utah drove deep, forcing the set piece with a lineout and a finish for a try by Blake Hohaia. A Schulte conversion pushed the Utah lead to 3-16.
Finding their feet with the set-piece, Matt Heaton scored a try via a lineout and maul setting the score at 8-16.
Early in the second half, Atlanta conceded a penalty giving Schulte the perfect shot on goal extending the Utah lead to 8-19. Driving deep, working their lineout and maul, Atlanta was stopped with only inches to go by a high tackle from Utah’s Saia ‘Uhila. Electing for the scrum, Ross Deacon used the attacking platform to score a try bringing the score to 13-19.
Taking a loose ball out of the ruck, Marno Redenlinghuys scored a try after bursting through the Utah defense. Kurt Coleman took over kicking duties for Atlanta, taking their first lead at 20-19. Pushing the tempo, Atlanta took possession into Utah territory and Van Schalkwyk scored a try extending the lead 25-19.
In the waning moments of the match Atlanta recycled the ball as they inched towards goal. John Cullen conceded an untimely penalty at the breakdown which gave Coleman a final shot on goal as time expired to secure a 28-19 victory over the Utah Warriors.
New England Free Jacks 34 – 14 Rugby United New York
The first of five games held in Las Vegas, New England enjoyed a first ever win against local rivals, New York. Winning 34-14 at the Sam Boyd Stadium, Josh Smith’s team stunned New York early on, scoring tries through Mitch Wilson and Brad Hemopo to go into an early 12-0 lead.
A Tadhg Leader penalty was shortly followed by New York’s first try of the season. Number eight Kyle Sumsion powering over to keep his side in contention, the try converted by Cathal Marsh.
Beaudein Waaka then burst into life, slipping through a Will Leonard tackle to score his first try for New England. Waaka also scored the first try of the second half, a flat pass from wing Mitch Wilson opening space for the Kiwi.
Involved for another try, Waaka broke through the RUNY defense before center’s Liam Steel and Sam Beard combined to send Steel over.
After the conversion, New England would have to survive late New York pressure, but the Free Jacks survived, making them kings of the North-East. For now.
San Diego 33-24 Seattle
A rematch of last season’s final, the Legion conceded an early penalty in the tackle with Brock Staller, who converted the penalty to put the visitors up 0-3.
Right off the lineout, JP Smith passed wide to Nakai Penny who gashed through the Legion defense passing to Riekert Hattingh for a try extending the lead 0-10.
The Legion responded rapidly by forcing the turnover and kicking to touch to set up the lineout and maul. This ended in a try by Dean Muir, bringing the score to 5-10. Winning the restart after multiple phases on the try-line, the ball was fed out to JP Du Plessis to score. Luke Burton made the conversion and the Legion were up 12-10.
After exchanging possessions and a penalty by Seattle, Muir scored his second try off the lineout as the Legion’s maul went over the goal line. The Legion extended their lead to 19-10.
Opening the second half, Ma’a Nonu pitched the ball to Save Totovosau, who sprinted on tippy toes along the touch line for a try in the corner to make it 26-10 over the Seawolves.
On a Seawolves lineout, Lou Stanfill went up to steal the ball. The ball passed out from the ruck hitting Nonu, then Dylan Audsley, then Jasa Veremalua took the final pass right under the posts for a try to extend their lead 33-10.
After exchanging possessions, Seattle scored from a lineout and maul as Vili Tolutau set the ball down over the goal line. Scott Dean kicked the conversion bringing the score to 33-17. Continuing the Seawolves attack, George Barton took a pass and scored a try getting the Seawolves closer at 33-24.
SD made a goal line stand to force the turnover and secure the victory as they moved the ball out to mid-field.
Austin Gilgronis 10 – 38 Toronto Arrows
The first half at Bold Stadium saw Toronto subject their hosts to some bruises. Early on Toronto scored through Uruguayan number eight, Manuael Diana, the loose forward powering over close to the try line to give his new side in an early advantage, Sam Malcolm converting the score.
The Gilgronis would register points soon after, a penalty from Chilean scrumhalf Marcelo Torrealba gave the hosts brief respite before Toronto went full steam ahead. Getting a penalty try as a result of their scrum, the Arrows continued to build their lead with a penalty from fullback Sam Malcolm.
More dominance from Toronto followed. Continued good field position resulted in Dan Moor scoring in the corner, Malcolm converting the try, ending the Toronto onslaught until after halftime.
Although a more subdued affair the second half, we still did see three more tries. First, an effort from Toronto scrumhalf Jamie Mackenzie, the Canadian picking the ball up from yet another dominant Toronto scrum, Malcolm converting the try.
After a period of scrappy play, Austin would score their first try of the season through hooker Chris Schade, the 29-year-old barreling over from short range and Torrealba kicking the conversion.
It was the Canadians who had the final say. Coming as a result of another great scrum, replacement flanker Pete Milazzo dove over the try line to secure Toronto’s win in Texas, Tayler Adams kicking the conversion for good measure.
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