Seawolves Overcome Halftime Deficit to Defeat Elite
Seawolves Overcome Halftime Deficit to Defeat Elite
By: Colton Strickler, MLR Correspondent
Third place Austin Elite Rugby welcomed the first place Seattle Seawolves to town for a match that carried serious standings implications.
The Elite (3-3), winners of two straight, put their undefeated home record on the line against a Seawolves (6-1) side that hadn’t lost a game since Week 2. Faced with an opportunity to stun the league leaders, Austin was unable to hold on to the eight-point lead they took into halftime and the Seawolves escaped with a 20-19 win.
Austin did all they could to make the most of their opportunity. They opened up the scoring early with a Timothee Gullimin penalty kick. The Austin fly-half was automatic on Friday night, making all four of his kicks and his lone conversion attempt.
The Seawolves worked their way down the pitch a few moments later and were presented with a shot at points themselves. Without Brock Staller, the man who usually handles the kicking duties but is currently playing with the Canadian Men’s National Team for their June test series, the Seawolves relied on fly-half Will Holder. Holder was unable to make his first attempt, and Austin made them pay by adding another kick to give them a 6-0 lead in the 13th minute.
Austin continued to pile on as many points as they could early when flanker Ross Deacon caught the Seawolves sleeping and took a pick-and-go in for a try. Gullimin’s conversion gave Austin a 13-0 lead jst 19 minutes in.
Despite the early lead, it’s been proven that you can’t keep the Seattle Seawolves down for long. Seattle’s first real signs of life came just three minutes later when outside centre William Rasileka took his own pick-and-go in for a try. Holder was unable to convert, but the Seawolves reduced Austin’s lead to eight points heading into the first water break.
Austin was quick to add three more points on the other side of the first water break, and the Elite took a 16-8 lead into the half.
Seattle came out in the second half with the same fire that Austin did in the first, only the Seawolves were turning their opportunities into tries when the Elite could only turn them into kicks.
The Seawolves struck first in the second half when wing Sequoyah Burke-Combs took a hands ball into the corner for a try. Holder again wasn’t able to convert, but the Austin lead was cut to just three points heading into the second water break.
Seattle took their first and only lead of the match in the 61st minute when lock Taylor Krumrei took a flat pass with a full head of steam in for the go-ahead try. Holder hit the conversion to give the Seawolves a 20-16 lead.
The Elite cut into the lead in the 68th minute with another Guillimin kick but would need to score one more time to pull out the win. After a Seattle knock on in the 79th minute, they would have one more chance to put the finishing touches on the match. Guillimin sent the ball high into the Texas sky in an attempt to force the Seawolves into a handling error, but Seattle caught the tough kick and emerged victorious.
The four points that the Seawolves picked up in the win brings them up to 29 on the season and tied with the Glendale Raptors atop the standings. Because the Seawolves weren’t able to pick up the bonus point, the Raptors, who own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Seattle, retook first place. Seattle guaranteed themselves a spot in the MLR Playoffs on June 30.
Houston picked up a bonus point in the loss, bringing them up to 18 on the season. They remain in third place.
Seattle will travel to take on the Glendale Raptors on Saturday, June 16 in what could very well be a preview of the MLR Championship and will likely be the deciding factor when it comes to seeding ahead of the tournament. Austin will head to San Diego to take on the Legion on Sunday, June 17 to solidify their spot in the playoffs and get back in the win column.
Tries: William Rasileka, Sequoyah Burke-Combs, Taylor Krumrei
Penalties: Will Holder (1/2)
Conversions: Will Holder (1/3)
Austin Elite Rugby
Tries: Ross Deacon
Penalties: Timothee Guillimin (4/4)
Conversions: Timothee Guillimin (1/1)
Colton can be reached at email@example.com.
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