Round 12 | First XV, Player of the Week
- Loosehead Prop, Kellen Gordon (Seattle Seawolves) – Gordon created history in the fourth minute of the Seawolves-SaberCats match, scoring the first ever try in the brand new AVEVA Stadium. Receiving a sweet offload from Phil Mack, Gordon burst over the try-line to score his second try of the season. Gordon’s presence around the breakdown on defense and attack swung possession in favor of the Seawolves. The prop finished the match with two carries for 12 meters, one line-break, and four tackles.
- Hooker, Pat O’Toole (Houston SaberCats) – O’Toole was one of the lone bright spots in the SaberCats’ match. He completed 14 tackles on defense and tenaciously countered at the breakdown, sneaking two steals to give the SaberCats much-needed possession. On attack, he carried the ball five times for 44 meters and had one tackle-break, and one offload.
- Tighthead Prop, Paddy Ryan (San Diego Legion) – Paddy Ryan’s abrasiveness around the breakdown and his ability to create opportunities where there is nothing with brute strength has lifted the Legion throughout the season. Against New York, he churned 77 meters through the stout Rooster defensive line, culminating in a try of his own. On defense, he completed 14 tackles to contain the New York attack.
- Left Lock, Lou Stanfill (San Diego Legion) – Leading the aerial assault, Stanfil executed six lineout takes to give Legion key set pieces as they used their driving maul to leverage offensive production. His efforts were most evident with his 16 tackles, with numerous tackles sending New York ball carriers flying backward. On attack, he contributed with five hard carries in traffic for 19 meters.
- Right Lock, Nate Brakeley (Rugby United New York) – Like his opposite lock, Lou Stanfill, Brakeley contributed to the New York aerial attack completing four lineout takes that facilitated the Roosters set-piece attack. He also went to work around the breakdown and crushed ball carriers with his 16 tackles.
- Blindside Flanker, Lance Williams (Utah Warriors) – Lance provided the Warriors everything they needed to compete with the first place Gold, scoring a try and rushing for 31 meters on 10 carries. On defense, he contributed eight tackles and completed five lineout takes in the set-piece.
- Openside Flanker, Nakai Penny (Seattle Seawolves) – Nakai is a guy who will never back down — he attacks relentlessly. He scored a try towards the end of the first half, putting momentum in favor of the Seawolves for the rest of the match. Penny carried the ball 15 times for 78 meters, had one tackle-break and one offload. On defense, he completed 12 tackles to contain the SaberCats attack.
- No 8., Cam Dolan (New Orleans Gold) – Cam seemingly always scores, this time it only took three meters coming off a maul and Utah wasn’t able to stop him. His game-play proved significant for the Gold by helping maintain the tempo throughout the game in the aerial attack. He completed eight lineout takes and disrupted Utah’s with one lineout steal. On defense, he attacked ball carriers ferociously to complete 10 tackles.
- Scrum-half, Mike Petri (Rugby United New York) – Mike Petri has exemplified excellent timing and vision with his support lines throughout the season. He distributes the ball out of the scrum in space for his backline to create space efficiently and quickly. One of his high-moments during the San Diego match came as the Legion stopped a maul late in the first half, with Petri slipping through the Legion defense right near the posts for a try. His eight box kicks for 181 meters stifled the Legion attack in their own half. On defense, he contributed with eight tackles completed.
- Fly-half, Joe Pietersen (San Diego Legion) – Keeping his side grounded, Pietersen ratcheted up the intensity for San Diego. Displaying excellent vision, he sidestepped and darted to the try-line late in half to seal the San Diego victory over New York. On attack, he made four carries for 57 meters with one line-break. Defensively, he contributed six completed tackles. As always, his keen sense for kicks in play to create space and territory yielded 217 meters from eight kicks.
- Left Wing, Ryan Matyas (San Diego Legion) – A powerful ball runner, Matyas created space with his five carries for 73 meters, one line-break, and one offload. This much-needed production helped guide the San Diego Attack deep in the second half after being misaligned early on through numerous team handling errors. On defense, he made three key tackles.
- Inside Center, Shalom Suniula (Seattle Seawolves) – Shalom pushed the tempo for the Seawolves, taking the ball 12 times for 77 meters. He landed a try-assist with a pass to Brad Tucker, helping the Seawolves to their second try in two minutes as the match entered the final quarter of play. On defense, he contributed with four tackles.
- Outside Center, Tristan Blewett (New Orleans Gold) – Another week, another intercept try for the soft hands and superb anticipation of Tristan Blewett, this time the opening try of the match in the first minutes of the game. He continues to be a production machine, giving the Gold every key moment they need with five carries for 116 meters and one line-break. He created two offloads with one accounting for a try-assist to JP Eloff. On defense, he suffocated the Utah attack with 11 tackles.
- Right Wing, Brock Staller (Seattle Seawolves) – Brock Staller had a sublime performance against Houston, this time bursting through the SaberCats line to collect a pass, dotting it down under the posts to open the half. He scored a total of 22 points from a try, four conversions, and three penalty goals. On attack, he totaled nine carries for 127 meters and one line-break. Defensively, Staller completed five tackles.
- Fullback, JP Eloff (New Orleans Gold) – JP Eloff’s keen sense for running support lines found pay dirt. Running off the wing from Tristan Blewett, he snagged an offload and went straight into the try zone. JP Scored eight more points going perfect in front of the sticks on four conversion attempts. He finished the match with seven carries for 72 meters gained, one line-break, two offloads, and two tackles.
Player of the Week: Right Wing, Brock Staller (Seattle Seawolves) – Brock ran all over the Houston defense, accumulating 127 meters from nine carries. His vision and steady leg drove the Seawolves to a resounding bonus-point-away-victory for the first-ever Major League Rugby fixture at the AVEVA Stadium.
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