San Diego Legion Victory Over Austin Elite Rugby Leads to Playoffs

San Diego Legion & Austin Elite Rugby

The San Diego legion took an 18-3 lead at the break and earned a 31-17 win to move into third place in the Major League Rugby standings, moving Austin Elite Rugby to fourth. Austin Elite has ended their regular season and will now watch anxiously next week’s match between the Utah Warriors and the Houston SaberCats. The Warriors will only need a losing bonus point to claim fourth place.

With the Legion win, NOLA Gold Rugby becomes the second team to miss the playoffs.

The playoff semi-finals will be held on June 30 at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado with the championship on July 7 in San Diego. The Legion would like nothing better to be in that final and will want the third seed entering the playoffs. That would give them a match against the Seattle Seawolves instead of the undefeated Glendale Raptors.

Match Recap

San Diego Legion struck first after an Austin Elite Rugby penalty. Tadgh Leader slotted the kick giving the Legion a 3-0 lead after 4 minutes. Six minutes later, Timothée Guillimin evened the score after a penalty.

San Diego attacked from a 5-meter lineout and Nick Boyer went under an Austin Elite defender for a try. Tadgh Leader then converted to push the lead to 10-3.

After some back and forth by both teams, Austin Elite Rugby was penalized and Leader added another 3 points pushing the lead to 13-3.

Austin Elite attacked after a box kick by Boyer. Hodson spun the ball wide and Sani Taylor was taken into touch. The Legion won the lineout and cleared for an Austin lineout inside Legion territory. The Legion was penalized again and Alec Barton was sent to the bin for too many defensive penalties.

Austin Elite Rugby could not take advantage of two attacks, as handling efforts thwarted their effort. A penalty by Austin allowed the Legion to attack to the Austin Elite 22-meters. Ben Mitchell’s defense has been stellar and he caused a knock on by Pat Blair on the tackle. The ensuing scrum and a Legion penalty allowed Austin to clear.

In the 39th minute, the Legion attacked from a 5-meter lineout and mauled their way in for a try by Nathan Sylvia. Leader’s conversion hit the posts and the Legion took an 18-3 lead into the break.

During the first half, the San Diego defense, as well as handling errors by Austin Elite Rugby kept possession in the Legion’s favor. Austin Elite Rugby strength was in the set pieces, but the team will need to control the ball to get back into the match during the second half. The Legion used kicks by both Leader and Kearns to place the Elite under pressure. The Legion also survived a yellow card by Barton and then scored in the final minute at full-strength after two penalties by Austin Elite.

Second Half

Austin Elite Rugby had the first opportunity for points after a penalty by Nick Evans. Guillimin’s kick, however, was wide left, resulting in a 22-drop. A handling error by Austin Elite led to a turnover and quickly the Elite was called for a penalty. Ben Mitchell was issued a yellow card for repeat infringements and Tadgh Leader slotted the kick to push the lead to 21-3.

Austin Elite responded with a break by Andrew Suniula and another by Pedrie Wannenburg, who offloaded to Pita Naruma for a try. Guillimin then converted to cut the lead to 21-10.

San Diego attacked from a lineout inside the Austin Elite 22-meters and Pat Blair was held up in-goal. Austin Elite was then warned for repeat infractions and warned that a yellow card would be issued should it happen again. The Legion went for the points and Leader slotted the kick increasing the lead to 24-10.

Penalties by the legion led to Austin Elite driving over the line, but the ball was held up. After a 5-meter scrum, Lou Stanfill went into contact with Leader and flicked the ball to Sani Taylor for a try. Guillimin then converted to cut the lead to 24-17.

A key moment in the match came at the in the final minutes from an Austin Elite scrum. Lou Stanfill took the ball and offloaded to Mikael Romera, who then passed to the feet of Andrew Suniula. The ball was kicked ahead and Ryan Matyas sealed the win with a try and a Leader conversion pushing the lead to 31-17.

Austin Elite would have one final attack, but a knock on ended the match, giving the Legion the win. The MAN of the Match was Nick Boyer.

With the win, the San Diego Legion will be in the playoffs and are currently in third place with 20 points, Austin Elite Rugby is in 4th place with 18 points, but will need the Houston SaberCats to beat the Utah Warriors (17 points) next week without the Warriors gaining a bonus point. Should the Warriors lose and get a bonus point, point differential would favor the Warriors, leaving Austin Elite in 5th place.

San Diego Legion & Austin Elite Rugby Squads

San Diego Legion: 1 Faka’osi Pifeleti, 2 Pat Blair, 3 Nathan Sylvia, 4 Nick Grass, 5 Chris Turori, 6 Alec Barton, 7 Derrick Broussard, 8 Drew Gaffney, 9 Nick Boyer, 10 Tadhg Leader (capt.), 11 Nick Evans, 12 Anthony Salaber, 13 Ryan Matyas, 14 Taku Ngwenya, 15 Conor Kearns 16 Pat O’Toole, 17 Sione Tu’ihalamaka, 18 Aaron Mitchell, 19 Sam Peri, 20 Gil Covey, 21 Nick Lupian, 22 Maceo Brown 23 Kyle Rogers + Head Coach Rob Hoadley

Austin Elite: 1 Chris Schade, 2 Mike Brown, 3 Mason Pedersen, 4 Ben Mitchell, 5 Victor Comptat, 6 Kyle Breytenbach, 7 Ross Deacon, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 9 Mikael Romera, 10 Timothée Guillimin, 11 Sani Taylor, 12 Andrew Suniula (capt.), 13 Roland Suniula, 14 Ned Hodson, 15 Zinzan Elan-Puttick 16 David LeMasters, 17 Siaosi Finau, 18 Robert Drummond, 19 Lou Stanfill, 20 Alex Faison-Donahoe, 21 Marcus Walsh, 22 Zac Mizell, 23 Junior Naruma, + Head Coach Alain Hyardet

San Diego Legion Pre-season Record (1-1)

San Diego Legion 2018 Major League Rugby Schedule

Austin Elite Rugby Pre-season Schedule

Austin Elite Rugby 2018 Major League Rugby Schedule

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant