Round Four Recap
It appears that the only things you can depend on these days are death, taxes, and the LA Giltinis; LA is the only team that has looked consistent week in and week out, and even it had to overcome a sloppy start to assure its third win in three chances. Elsewhere across the league, two teams snapped losing streaks and big jumps were made across the standings. Let’s take a look at the weekend’s action.
LA Rolls in Win over Toronto
The LA Giltinis returned from its bye week and picked up where it left off with another bonus point victory, 43-16 over Toronto. That makes the maximum of 15 league points in three matches for LA.
The game was close early, only 10-9 LA moments before halftime. Both teams struggled to maintain ball — Toronto with issues in the lineout while LA was sloppy in the loose. A yellow card from Toronto down near its own try line sparked the Giltinis’ attack, and the ensuing moments essentially sealed the game.
LA scored 21 unanswered points while Toronto had its man in the bin. The first came just before halftime as the pack scrummed the ball across the try line and dotted down. Johnny Ryberg then scored off possession deep in Toronto territory 30 seconds into the second half, and #6 Angust Cottrell scored after an LA maul, an effective weapon all day, put him at the doorstep. Just like that, it was 31-9 LA and this one was effectively over.
Toronto’s best chance to strike back went begging after nearly 10 minutes played inside LA territory yielded zero points. Back in Arrows’ territory, #9 Harrison Goddard danced with the sideline for a cheeky weak side scoop and score to extend the Giltinis’ lead. Fly half Matt Giteau finally missed his first conversion of the game to make the score 36-9 entering the final frame.
The Arrows broke the ice when Manuel Montero scored the team’s first try at 63’ with an impressive long try following the kickoff. LA flanker Harry McNulty celebrated the victory with a swan dive try in the final moments, and the successful conversion marked the game’s final score, 43-16.
Austin Grinds out Win at the Gold Mine
The Austin Gilgronis traveled to New Orleans and now return home with a pivotal win. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t pretty, but the victory puts Austin in second place in the Western Conference as we enter the quarter mark of the season.
The visitors scored the first try with a true “play to the whistle” effort. When NOLA knocked the ball on toward the sidelines, the Gold stopped and looked for the whistle, seeming to think the possession had also gone into touch.
Opportunistic fly half Mack Mason scooped up the pill and took it most of the way before his offload found #9 Pele Crowley, who dotted down the game’s first points. The conversion was good, and it was 7-0 New Orleans five minutes in.
A big break on the kickoff by Austin Vice Captain Sebastian De Chaves put Austin back on the front foot, as NOLA struggled to switch on coming out of its bye week. In what was a theme of the game, the Gold held on though, found a turnover, and escaped an early two-possession deficit.
The home team started to show some signs of life near the first hydration break, but multiple turnovers from both teams kept the ball out of the try zone for the rest of the first half, each team settling for a penalty kick. NOLA again escaped trouble as Austin eschewed points just before halftime and instead went for the try. NOLA turned the ball over inside its own two meter line, booted it out, and the teams went to the shed with Austin on top, 10-3.
The defenses won the the first stand of the second half as well. A penalty kick for Austin marked the only points of the first 20 minutes. Sensing it was now or never time, NOLA finally started to click on offense. The pressure earned a penalty, the Gold executed the ensuing lineout and popped to crashing center JP Du Plesseis who found #11 Julian Dominguez. Dominguez kept the legs pumping across the try line, and the Carl Meyer conversion made it 13-10 at 62’.
Ten minutes later, it looked like the Gold might get off the mat and steal this one. With the offense continuing to put a lot of pressure on the Austin defense, NOLA found itself deep in attacking territory. Cam Dolan was stood up by multiple bodies inside the 5, threw a basketball chest pass out, and the ball eventually found the try-scoring machine Jojo Tikoisuva, who dotted down to make it 15-13. The tough conversion was missed and the teams headed into the final moments separated by the slimmest of margins.
NOLA had a chance to grind the match into stoppage time with ball in hand at 78’. A turnover gave Austin a chance, however, and the visitors took the gift willingly. Austin banged the ball down following the penalty and executed the lineout. Bryce Campbell found a half-gap, and the scrambling NOLA defense got pinged for being offsides.
With advantage on, Mack Mason chipped the ball perfectly, danger man Roderick Waters recovered, and Austin evened its record to 2-2.
Austin now shoots to second in the Western Conference and faces Rugby ATL next weekend. NOLA drops to fourth in the East and hosts New England in Week 5.
Houston Takes Down San Diego to Snap Scoreless Skid
The Houston Sabercats snapped a near 200-minute scoreless drought in a pivotal home win over the San Diego Legion Saturday night.
Dylan Audsley started the scoring with a try coming out of the Legion scrum. Houston got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff and scrum half Nick Boyer, who made an immediate impact on debut, fed wing Paula Belakana. Boyer got it back meters away from the try line, and in flew the big #13 Veramu Dikidikilati who crashed across for Houston’s first points since Week One versus Seattle.
Cecil Afrika sparked the Legion attack after that with a grubber down the sideline, recovered by winger Bjorn Basson who dove into paydirt to put his squad back up 12-7 at 18’. Afrika soon found himself in the bin, however, as a kick from Houston forced the fullback into a desperation play. The attempted recovery was deemed a bit too desperate, and the penalty try was awarded to make it 14-12 Houston.
The backs on both teams absolutely had themselves a day with the boot, and this time it was San Diego fullback Joe Pietersen’s turn. His chip was misplayed on the high bounce, and he took the gift willingly with both hands, dotted the try down and connected on the conversion.
Houston came right back and #12 Sam Windsor chipped with mixed results. No try was awarded this time but the Sabercats kept the pressure on and eventually found Balekana, who cut back left to right and made a handful of Legion players miss on his way into the try zone to make it 21-19 Houston. The ‘Cats extended the lead just before half via a Windsor PK and it was 24-19 at the break.
Houston fly half Robert Povey decided he wanted to join the chipping game and found wing Zach Pangelinan in stride, who completed a beautiful offload to fullback Matt Freyre to extend the lead; the successful conversion made it 31-22 to the home team.
The scoring finally slowed a bit as the Houston advantage held until the final 20 minutes. A well-executed maul off the San Diego lineout saw Pete Malcolm dot down. The Pietersen conversion clanked off the posts and the gap was only 31-27 before Windsor extended it to a converted try with a clutch penalty kick, 34-27.
It looked like San Diego would escape defeat in the final moments once again as it did Week Two against Austin. The Legion fought through into stoppage time and got the try from #13 Cam Clark. However, Pietersen’s conversion was wide, and Austin evened its record to 2-2 and jumped to second in the standings.
San Diego is reeling after coming into the season as a favorite for the Championship Shield. The Legion are just 1-3, and all eyes will be on its prized offseason acquisition Chris Robshaw. Robshaw exited his debut match just 57 minutes in with a left shoulder injury; his status is uncertain ahead of this weekend’s match against Utah.
Seattle Holds off Utah to Notch First Win of the Season
The Seattle Seawolves came into this game a wounded champion, wobbling against the ropes after an 0-2 start. Utah was on top of the league standings, an emerging contender in the West looking for a knockout blow. All the picks were against the Seawolves. Seattle showed its championship mettle, however, and pulled off the 20-15 upset victory over the Warriors .
The champs came out punching with Andrew Duratalo dragging defenders across the line for the game’s first points 14 minutes in. Utah struck back as some aggressive maul defense saw prop Djustice Sears-Duru sent to the bin. The Warriors were able to get over the line a moment later.
Seattle was able to withstand the rest of the disadvantage with no further points allowed, and was next to score when wing Sitiveni Tamaivena took a handful of Warriors with him across the try line to make it 12-7.
That score held until halftime, and Seattle extended its advantage with a penalty kick to make it 15-7. It was Utah who scored the next eight with a try and penalty kick, and we were all knotted up at 15 heading into the final stage of the game.
A huge pass from scrummy Devereaux Ferris found rookie sensation Aaron Matthews to put Seattle back on top. The missed conversion created plenty of drama as Utah had chances to steal the game at the end.
The Seattle defense held, and Ferris booted the ball into touch to seal the 20-15 victory. The win puts the Seawolves back in the mix, still at the bottom of the standings, but with a game in hand all but LA in the West after its bye week.
Settle will hope to build on the road next week against Toronto and send a message that it’s back and looking to contend as we move toward the midpoint of the season.
Complete Performance Leads New York Over Atlanta
Rugby United New York put its most complete performance of the season on display in a 27-17 road victory over Atlanta.
The visitors took an early 3-0 lead via a penalty kick from fly half Dan Hollinshead. New York followed up with the game’s first try nine minutes later with some nifty action in the lineout. The team faked the driving maul that has been in the mind of defenses across the league, and instead flanker Hanco Germishuys picked and fed #9 Andy Ellis near the sideline. Ellis then dished back inside to winger Quinn Ngawati, and after the conversion it was 10-0 New York early on.
Seven minutes later Hollinshead exploited the rush defense of Atlanta with a dummy that opened up the gap for a big try and 17-0 lead. The hosts responded before halftime with a well-executed maul off the lineout. Marko Van Rensburg dotted down at the back of the drive and the successful conversion closed the gap to 17-7.
The Atlanta offense disappeared for entirely too long after that, however, and New York opened up its lead to 27-7. ATL fought through to the end, scoring the final two tries but just outside of bonus point range with the game’s final score, 27-17.
The win puts New York in a very strong position as we enter the quarter poll of the season. The team has a game in hand over Atlanta, with whom they are tied for ten league points at the top of the Eastern Conference. New York will try to build off the win in a big Eastern Conference clash versus Old Glory DC next week, while Atlanta tries to recover against the Austin Gilgronis.
Written By Joe Harvey I Photos By Paris Malone On the final
Written By Joe Harvey I Photos provided By USA Rugby Drawing with
The Chicago Hounds will compete as 12th MLR team in the 2023
Dallas (November 15, 2022) — Major League Rugby (MLR) has announced that
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