Round Nine Recap
Defenses Stand up in Week 9. A couple of weeks ago, it seemed like every game featured a near-100 point scoreline. Now the defenses are taking a turn in the spotlight. In one match a single try was enough to win it, while others featured long defensive stands to help secure victory.
Take a look at all of this weekend’s action below:
Austin Outlasts New York to Defend Home Field
Austin got back in the win column a week after its four-game win streak was snapped to secure an important victory. It was pretty easy to predict this match would be a tight, physical, defensive affair. The teams did not disappoint.
It was a penalty kick battle between the fly halfs early on as the defenses refused to yield much ground. Dan Hollinshead picked up where he left off last week with three early PKs to one for Austin’s Mack Mason. Those kicks in the opening 12 minutes would prove to be New York’s only points throughout the match, as the Gilgronis pitched a shutout for the final 68 minutes.
Austin kept tremendous pressure on New York and played deep in the visitors’ territory for a ten minute stand around the 18-28 minutes in the match. New York nearly weathered the storm with a man down, but after two near-tries were knocked on, the Gilgronis finally scored the game’s first and only try after a powerful rolling maul.
Mason’s conversion was good, as were a couple more penalty kicks to provide the rest of the points in this one. The 16-9 win puts Austin back into second place in the Western Conference, while New York remains in second, now two points behind Atlanta in the East.
Toronto Arrows Secure Road Victory against Houston Sabercats
The Toronto Arrows are a team known for its fast-paced offensive attack, but it was the defense that led the way in its victory over the Houston SaberCats.
It took twenty minutes and a number of thwarted attempts but the Arrows scored the game’s first points when some fast hands found Miguel Montero with just enough space on the wing to scamper in and dot down the try. Houston played valiant defense throughout the first half, but Toronto just had too much possession deep in SaberCats’ territory. The Arrows eventually broke through at 37’ with Tommy de la Vega’s try. The hosts kept playing well into extra time in the first half, and were rewarded for their efforts with a penalty kick converted by Sam Windsor to close the gap to 12-3 at the end of the first half.
The Houston attack started to rise early in the second half, but a number of long breaks did not yield points for the home team. Instead it was Toronto that scored first to extend its lead, 19-3 at 64’. The SaberCats did finally break the line when Cecil Garber tracked a charge down into the try zone to close the gap. But with just 5 minutes left it was too late; Toronto finished off the 19-10 win.
The win was an important one for the Arrows, who snapped a two-game losing streak. Houston will try to regroup at home versus Old Glory DC.
Rugby ATL Shoots to First Place in East with Win over New England
Rugby ATL was locked in a three-way third place tie just over a week ago. Now it sits alone in first place. Such is life in the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta got the scoring started eight minutes in when hooker Marko Janse van Rensburg dotted down at the back of the maul. After a New England penalty Atlanta struck again with a beautiful little chip kick that was recovered and dotted down by #14 Te Rangatira Waitokia.
After another New England PK Atlanta went to the boot again, this time recovered by fly half Adriaan Carelse, who notched the third try of the game 29 minutes in. New England responded just a moment later when Harry Barlow finished some sustained phase play, the conversion was good, and this one was tightened up at 19-13.
The Free Jacks were last to score in the first half and the first to find the try line in the second when scrappy #9 John Poland tapped and snuck through the Atlanta defense. The conversion from the sideline was missed, which allowed ATL’s 19-18 lead hold all the way until the 71st minute. New England received back-to-back yellow cards and Atlanta wasted little time in capitalizing; Ross Deacon crashed across the line on an eight-take to score the game’s decisive try. Mark O’Keefe notched the insurance try moments later and Atlanta had itself a 33-18 victory.
The win put Atlanta on top of the East with 26 points, ahead of New York and NOLA with 24 points apiece. New England now needs to regroup, as it sits second from last place in the Conference.
Giltinis Tested Early, Finish off Utah 38-27
The LA Giltinis faced a second stiff test in a row, this time against the Utah Warriors in a match that featured the two teams with the highest point totals in the league.
Scrum half Harrison Goddard got the scoring started with a sneaky pick off the back of the ruck just two minutes into the game. Utah came right back moments later when Mikey Te’o did what he does best, created for others and found hooker Sama Malalo with a nifty offload for the score.
It was a try to a penalty kick in LA’s advantage throughout the next phase of the game. Then Ryan James stabbed through at 25’, Goddard recovered and scampered the rest of the way for his second try of the match. LA scored again just before halftime and hit the shed up 24-8 as Utah was caught in the middle of one of those vaunted Giltins’ runs that can often decide the game.
LA was first to score in the second half; it took Utah until the 59th minute to muster a response. The Warriors displayed plenty of fight and scored again ten minutes later but were still down two scores, 31-20. After a steal in the lineout deep in Utah territory LA finished this one off with flanker Angus Cottrell’s try to put things out of reach at 73’.
LA is running the gauntlet of MLR contenders. It lost a week ago to Rugby United New York, the East’s top team at that time. It proved its mettle against Utah — second place in the league coming into the match — and now has the new second place team Austin Gilgronis for a featured match Wednesday night. Utah can hop back into playoff position with a victory at New Orleans, pending the result of the LA-Austin match.
Legion Return to San Diego with 43-17 Victory
The San Diego Legion played its first true home match of the season and delivered with a complete performance to defeat the favored NOLA Gold. Andrew Guerra got the visitors on top early when he plowed through the Legion defense for the game’s opening try 13 minutes into the match.
San Diego came right back two minutes later when a pass from Big David Tameliau found Bjorn Basson with space on the left-hand side. Joe Pietersen, back in the #10 jersey for the Legion, slotted the conversion to tie the game up at seven apiece.
This game did not have the feel of a blowout 30 minutes in when San Diego was only up 10-7. A key stretch from there sealed the victory early, however. Young Legion scrum half Ethan McVeigh picked off the back of the maul and scored to start the run at 30’. Cecil Afrika then dotted down three minutes into extra first half action, and the Legion headed into the break with the lead and momentum, 22-7.
The grizzled vet Pietersen proved he still had the gas with a long try four minutes into the second stand, and San Diego had complete control from there as it finished off the 43-17 victory.
The win is San Diego’s first since April 17th against Utah and snaps a four-game losing streak. It will try to make a second half run with Houston up at home next weekend. The loss drops NOLA to third in the airtight Eastern Conference.
Old Glory Defends Home Field to Secure Narrow Victory
Old Glory DC played host to the resurgent Seattle Seawolves and did just enough to secure a tight 22-18 victory.
It looked like Seattle might seize momentum early, as it scored the first points of the match off a big crash ball from its attacking scrum. DC came right back though when Renata Roberts-Tenana continued his impressive season with a great line to streak into paydirt.
Seattle responded next with a penalty kick, then it was Old Glory’s second try to tie the match at ten apiece 24 minutes in. A little 8-0 run by Seattle made it 18-10, but captain Thretton Palamo powered through for a pivotal try just before halftime. Fly half Jason Robertson’s successful conversion made it 18-17 heading into the break.
Both defenses played an impressive final 40 minutes. DC hooker Mikey Sosenei-Feagai notched the only points of the second half with a try after an Old Glory lineout. Seattle looked like it would score time and again, but the home team answered every challenge and held onto the victory.
It was an important win for Old Glory. Though it is still in last place in the East, it’s now a victory away from making a big jump in the standings. Seattle has played much better of late, but remains last in the league with 12 points.
Written by Joe Harvey | Photo by USA RUGBY “Doing the national
PICK #1 BY DALLAS JACKALS SAM GOLLA, FLANKER | UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
PICK #2 BY NOLA GOLD SEBASTIANO VILLANI, SCRUM HALF | ST. BONAVENTURE
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