Seattle Seawolves vs. Utah Warriors MLR Preview

Seattle Seawolves & Utah Warriors

The Seattle Seawolves are in second place in the Major League Rugby standings with a 2-1 record. They host the Utah Warriors, who are in fourth place with a 1-2 record, at Starfire Stadium on Sunday, May 20 at 5:30 pm local (8:30 pm EDT). The match is sold out and will be broadcast locally on Root Sports, streamed nationally on ESPN+, and internationally on the MLR Facebook page.

The Seawolves have been extremely responsive to the needs of their fans. Based on feedback, they have partnered with Lyft to provide a 50% discount code to alleviate traffic congestion and parking concerns. They have also made improvements to lessen waiting time to enter the venue, printed game day programs, reduced the PA sound on the north end of the Stadium, added new music being played, and brought back the Kids Zone. Each week the team has listened to fans and tried to improve the fan experience. That is something for all teams to consider.

Seattle Seawolves

The Seattle Seawolves have made four changes to their starters from last week’s 31-29 win over the New Orleans Gold Rugby Club. Dan Trierweiler is a new addition to the team from the Seattle Saracens and is at hooker. Riekert Hattingh, the former Bull Bulls, and Ohio Aviators player, returns from a concussion suffered in week one and will be the captain at No. 8. George Barton, who played for the Canadian U20s, will be at inside center and Canadian international Brock Staller will be at wing. Sequoyah Burke-Combs also is part of the squad as a reserve.

Look for the Seattle Seawolves to try to place Utah under pressure early in the scrums. The return of Riekert Hattingh should help an otherwise excellent group of forwards. With both Ray Barkwill and Mike Shepherd out at hooker, Dan Trierweiler steps into the front row.

Shalom Suniula is also not in the lineup this week and his leadership will be missed in the backs. In his place in George Barton, who like outside center William Rasileka, is a physical player. The centers will hope to match the physicality of the Utah Warriors, as well as take advantage of their back three in Peter Tiberio, Brock Staller, and Mat Turner. Phil Mack will be looking to take advantage of the 9 channel, as well as use quick ball to Peter Smith and then wide.

With a win, the Seawolves would solidify their hold on second place. Should they lose, and not gain a bonus point, they could be anywhere from third to fifth place in the standings. Securing a bonus point in a loss, and not having Utah gain a bonus point win, could mean either being in second or third place depending on point differential.

The Major League Rugby season consists of eight matches. After this week, the season is at the midpoint. There is parity in the league, so each match is important in trying to secure one of the four playoff spots.

Utah Warriors

The Utah Warriors have had nine day to prepare for this match since their 42-21 victory over Austin Elite Rugby. Head Coach Alf Daniels has made one change to his starting XV due to injury, with Don Pati replacing Jared Whippy at fullback.

Although the scrum has improved immensely since the first match, Utah has added reinforcements in Tino Mafi, Maka Tameilau, and Les Soloai. Mafi played football at Dickenson State and rugby at Life West. Maka Tameilau, a prop, also played at Life West, for the San Francisco Rush and was a defensive tackle in football at City College of San Francisco. Les Soloai played rugby league for the USA, the Hawaii Chiefs, and for the West Tigers. He also played football at BYU.

Against Austin Elite Rugby, John Cullen saw his first match action of the season after an injury. As he improves his match fitness, his playing time and his impact on the field should be an asset to the team.

The Utah Warriors are a physical team, especially in the forwards and in the centers. The addition of Kurt Morath has facilitated placing the opposition under pressure with tactical kicking. He distributes the ball well and he is one of the most accurate kickers in the league.

Seattle Seawolves & Utah Warriors Squads

Seattle Seawolves: 1 Olive Kilifi  2 Dan Trierweiler 3 Tim Metcher 4 Taylor Krumrei  5 Cam Polson 6 Aladdin Schirmer (VC) 7 Vili Toluta’u 8 Riekert Hattingh (C) 9 Phil Mack 10 Peter Smith 11 Peter Tiberio 12 George Barton 13 William Rasileka 14 Brock Staller 15 Mat Turner 16 Kellen Gordon 17 Larome White 18 John Hayden 19 Eric Dueschle 20 Cole Van Harn 21 Will Holder 22 Jeremy Misailegalu 23 Sequoyah Burke-Combs

Utah Warriors: 1 Alex Tucci, 2 Lote Tu’ipulotu, 3 Angus MacLellan, 4 Matt Jensen, 5 Saia Uhila, (VC) 6 Lance Williams, 7 Ara Elkington, 8 Tevita ‘David’ Tameilau, 9 Joseph Nicholls, 10 Kurt Morath, 11 Tonata Lauti, 12 Paul Lasike (capt.), 13 Fetu’u Vainikolo, 14 Josh Anderson, 15 Don Pati 16 Tino Mafi 17  Maka Tameilau 18 Les Soloai 19 Maika Hafoka,  20 John Cullen 21 Alekisa Kalougata 22 Paki Afu, 23 Ben Nicholls, + Head Coach Alf Daniels

Seattle Seawolves Pre-season Record (1-0)

  • April 15 vs. Wolf Pack (W 47-7)

Seattle Seawolves 2018 Major League Rugby Schedule

  • April 22 vs. San Diego Legion (W 39-23) Preview  ROOT SPORTS, ESPN+
  • April 28 vs. Glendale Raptors (L 19-15) Preview CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
  • May 12 at NOLA Gold (W 31-29)  Preview  Cox/AT&T SportsNet
  • May 20 vs. Utah Warriors Preview 5:30 pm PDT Network: AT&T SportsNet
  • May 27 vs NOLA Gold 5:00 pm PDT Network: Cox/AT&T SportsNet
  • June 8 at Austin Elite 6:00 pm  PDT Network: CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
  • June 16 at Glendale Raptors 6:00 pm Network: AT&T SportsNet

Utah Warriors Pre-season

Utah Warriors 2018 Major League Rugby Season

  • April 29 at San Diego Legion (L 31-24) Preview Cox/AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+
  • May 5 vs Glendale Raptors (L 36-29) Preview AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+
  • May 11 vs Austin Elite Rugby (W 42-21) Preview CBSSN, ESPN+
  • May 20 at Seattle Seawolves Preview 6:30 pm MDT Network: ROOT SPORTS, ESPN+
  • May 26 at Houston SaberCats 4 pm MDT Network: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+
  • June 1 at Austin Elite Rugby 7 pm MDT Network: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+
  • June 16 vs New Orleans Gold 2 pm MDT Network: CBSSN, ESPN+
  • June 23 vs Houston SaberCats 1 pm Network: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+

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DJCoil Rugby articles by Doug Coil are also available on Facebook. Other Social Media sites to follow or subscribe include Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for interviews.

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant