Seawolves Wear Down Legion, Advance to MLR Championship
Seawolves Wear Down Legion, Advance to MLR Championship
By: Colton Strickler, MLR Correspondent
Photo: Seth McConnell
The first half of the inaugural MLR Championship game is set.
The third-place San Diego Legion and second-place Seattle Seawolves met at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado for the first match of the MLR Playoffs on Saturday evening.
With a trip to the Championship game on the line, it was the Seawolves who overcame slow starts in both the first and second half to defeat the Legion 38-24.
Saturday’s playoff match marked the second time that the two sides faced each other this season. The first meeting, which resulted in a 39-23 Seattle victory all the way back in Week 1, saw the Seawolves’ scrum bully the Legion into three penalty tries.
While San Diego didn’t get bullied on Saturday, the penalties that the Legion committed played a role in the result and despite leading early in the match, Seattle made them pay for their mistakes. San Diego committed 14 penalties and earned two yellow cards while Seattle only committed seven penalties and stayed out of the sin bin.
“Clearly penalties and the two yellow cards changed the momentum of the game,” San Diego head coach Rob Hoadley said after the match. “But ultimately our execution in all aspects needed to be of a much higher standard, to give us a chance of progressing to the final.”
Before the penalties, it was the Legion who played with the momentum.
“I believe we had 82 percent field position after 26 minutes and at 10-3 up had a great opportunity to score but conceded a penalty at the first scrum of the game and really didn’t rebound well for the rest of the half,” Hoadley said. “Ultimately our tackling let us down and was way below the standard need to win a playoff game against quality opposition. We congratulate Seattle on a great performance and wish both them and Glendale all the best in the first MLR final at Torero Field next Saturday.”
San Diego got the scoring started with a penalty goal from fullback Joe Pietersen. Pietersen was a busy man in the first half, scoring San Diego’s first 10 points.
Seattle answered back with a penalty goal of their own from fly-half Peter Smith just a few minutes later to even the match at three points apiece.
San Diego responded by pushing Seattle deep into their own territory. Seawolves’ scrum-half Phil Mack used a box kick to give Seattle some breathing room, but Pietersen caught the ball on the full and used some slick running to score the match’s first try right between the posts. He kicked his own conversion to give the Legion a 10-3 lead into the first water break.
The Seawolves scored their first try on the other side of the water break when captain and inside centre Shalom Suniula threw a dummy, spun and fended off a defender on his way into the in-goal. Smith nailed the conversion to tie the match at 10 heading into the half.
Just as they did in the first half, the Legion struck first. This time eight-man Drew Gaffney took a flat pass from Pietersen untouched into the in-goal for a try. Pietersen’s conversion gave San Diego a 17-10 lead heading into the second water break.
As hard as they tired, the Legion just couldn’t put those pesky Seawolves away. Seattle used a one-man advantage from a San Diego yellow card to answer back with a switch that saw Smith distribute the ball to a full-speed outside centre William Rasileka who shed a tackle and stretched out for a try. Smith kicked the conversion to even the match at 17 points in the 63rd minute.
After hanging around, it was the Seawolves that took control of the game. Seattle struck back with another try just three minutes later when wing Peter Tiberio picked off a San Diego pass and took it the opposite way for a long try. Smith kicked the conversion and the Seawolves took their first lead of the match.
Seattle struck again with back-to-back tries from Sequoyah Burke-Combs and John Hayden in the 74th and 79th minute respectively, while Utah stole one more try in the 81st minute when wing Nate Augspurger took a grubber from Pietersen. When the dust settled the Seawolves punched their ticket to the championship with a 38-24.
Despite coming up short, Hoadley is extremely proud of his side and what they were able to accomplish in their first season.
“It has been an incredible journey and we feel very privileged to be a part of the historic, inaugural season of Major League Rugby,” Hoadley said. “One of our main goals as a group was to inspire a new Legion of fans, and we are proud of laying the foundation of a new professional sports team in San Diego that has positively impacted so many people’s’ lives. We are incredibly disappointed by our playoff loss, and cannot wait for the opportunity to get back to work next season in order to bring greater success back to our fans. Lastly, we are very proud of the group of young men that have played this season and represented the Legion badge with such passion.”
The Seawolves will take on the first-place Glendale Raptors in the MLR Championship on Saturday, July 7 at Torero Stadium in San Diego, California. It will serve as the third meeting of the season between the two sides. The Raptors have beaten the Seawolves in both of the first two meetings.
Tickets can be purchased here.
Tries: Shalom Suniula, William Rasileka, Peter Tiberio, Sequoyah Burke-Combs, John Hayden
Penalties: Peter Smith (1/1)
Conversions: Peter Smith (5/5)
San Diego Legion
Tries: Joe Pietersen, Drew Gaffney, Nate Augspurger
Penalties: Joe Pietersen (1/1)
Conversions: Joe Pietersen (3/3)
Colton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SALT LAKE CITY (September 10, 2019) – Major League Rugby (MLR) is
Scott Lawrence’s coaching journey began in 2004 at Life University, Georgia. Over
Winning Major League Rugby’s first-ever Player of the Year award involves a
It’s hard to find any coach at any level that operates a
Dan and Pete discussed the Utah Warriors 2019 Major League Rugby season
- September 2019 (2)
- August 2019 (5)
- July 2019 (11)
- June 2019 (51)
- May 2019 (75)
- April 2019 (88)
- March 2019 (78)
- February 2019 (76)
- January 2019 (51)
- December 2018 (7)
- November 2018 (10)
- October 2018 (8)
- September 2018 (12)
- August 2018 (14)
- July 2018 (10)
- June 2018 (46)
- May 2018 (43)
- April 2018 (34)
- March 2018 (25)
- February 2018 (31)
- January 2018 (37)
- December 2017 (10)
- November 2017 (25)
- October 2017 (25)
- July 2017 (1)
- March 2017 (2)