Seawolves Roll Gold, Move Into First Place
Seawolves Roll Gold, Move Into First Place
By: MLR Correspondent, Colton Strickler
Photo: Darren Zemanek
For the first time all season someone besides the Glendale Raptors sits atop the Major League Rugby standings.
The Seattle Seawolves and the NOLA Gold squared off for the second time in as many weeks on Sunday evening, and unfortunately for the Gold (2-3), the result wasn’t much different as the Seawolves (4-1) cruised to a 55-26 win.
Unlike in their first meeting, the Seawolves didn’t waste much time getting down to business. They rattled off 21-straight points in just 10 minutes, and wing Brock Staller accounted for 16 of them. Staller scored the first two tries of the match, the first came in the first 60 seconds off fly-half Will Holder’s line break while the second came on a hands ball in the corner. He converted both of those tries.
Seattle’s third try of the match came on a long run that included two broken tackles from flanker Eric Duechle. Staller added the conversion to put NOLA into a 21-point hole before they could even blink.
It took a little over 16 minutes, but the Gold finally managed to get their feet under themselves. Inside centre Taylor Howden placed a kick to touch deep into Seawolves territory, NOLA’s forwards found some success against Seattle’s brutal forward pack in the form of pick-and-goes. Lock John Sullivan took his pick-and-go in for a hard-earned try to breathe a little bit of life back into the Gold. Howden converted the kick, cutting Seattle’s lead to 14.
Just as NOLA made a little headroom, Seattle responded with a 10-0 run. Starting with a Staller penalty kick and separated by the 20-minute water break, fullback Mat Turner turned on the jets and toasted the Gold’s defense. Staller hit the conversion to give Seattle a daunting 31-7 lead.
Staller tried to tack on three more points to their 24-point lead but was unable to make the tough kick. That set the table for the Gold to make something happen. NOLA worked their way down into Seawolve territory and forced Seattle into committing what turned out to be a penalty try. Staller, the man responsible for 21 of their 31 points, had to sit for 10 minutes and that was just enough of a window for NOLA to claw their way back into the match.
NOLA marched their way down the field on the ensuing possession and this time distributed the ball to their other lock, Tesimoni Tongauiha for their third try of the match. Howden converted the kick and just like that the Gold trailed by only 10 points heading into the half.
The Gold took advantage of their one-man advantage on the other side of the half by doing exactly what was working for them in the first half. They worked their way down into Seattle territory with a series of pick-and-goes. As they were knocking on the door of the in-goal, everyone in Starfire Sports expected one of NOLA’s forwards to drive another one in. Instead, Howden received the ball and skipped it wide to an uncovered Michael Baska who took it into the corner for a try. Howden couldn’t convert the tough kick, but NOLA all of a sudden only trailed 31-26.
That was as close as they would get.
The rest of the match was all Seattle. Holder filled in for Staller’s kicking responsibilities, nailing his only penalty and conversion attempt. His penalty kick gave the Seawolves a 34-26 lead. Howden tried to respond with his own penalty kick but missed and Seattle made NOLA pay.
Seattle finished the match with three-straight tries from Aladdin Schirmer, Dan Trierweiler, and Turner for his second of the match. All three were converted. When it was all said and done Seattle left with a 55-26 victory, five points in the standing and first place in their back pocket.
Glendale, 4-0, enjoyed back-to-back bye weeks in weeks 5 and 6, and are the only team that has been able to defeat the Seawolves.
Both Seattle and NOLA picked up valuable bonus points in the match. NOLA’s 12 points leave them in fifth place as Austin Elite Rugby owns the head-to-head tiebreaker from their Week 3 matchup that saw Austin win 30-17.
Seattle will travel down to Houston to take on the SaberCats on Saturday, June 2 while NOLA will welcome the Glendale Raptors to town on Sunday, June 3.
Tries: Brock Staller (2), Eric Duechle, Mat Turner (2), Aladdin Schirmer, Dan Trierweiler
Penalties: Brock Staller (1/2), Will Holder (1/1)
Conversions: Brock Staller (6/6), Will Holder (1/1)
Tries: John Sullivan, Penalty Try, Tesimoni Tongauiha, Michael Baska
Penalties: Taylor Howden (0/1)
Conversions: Taylor Howden (2/3)
Colton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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