Major League Rugby Semi-Final
The Seattle Seawolves broke open an otherwise close match to beat the San Diego Legion 38-24 in the Major League Rugby Semi-Finals at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado on June 30. With the win, the Seattle Seawolves will meet the Glendale Raptors for the Championship, who defeated the Utah Warriors 34-21. The Championship will held on July 7 at Torero Stadium in San Diego and broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
The Seawolves Peter Smith opened the match kicking to Taku Ngwenya. The Legion went through multiple phases and after a penalty by the Seawolves, Joe Pietersen slotted the kick to take a 3-0 lead. The restart then went off Ngwenya into Seawolves hands and after a penalty by the Legion at the breakdown, Peter Smith leveled the match at 3-3.
The Seawolves claimed the restart, but Eric Dueschle turned over the ball. The Legion attacked and Tadhg Leader grubbed the ball into touch 5 meters from the line. After the ensuing lineout, the Seawolves cleared and Joe Pietersen went in for a try, which he then converted for a 10-3 lead.
The Seawolves then turnover the ball inside the Legion 22-meters. Olive Kilifi advanced the ball to within 5-meters of the line before Nathan Sylvia work at the breakdown created a penalty by the Seawolves allowing the Legion to clear and attack.
From a Legion lineout, the Legion mauled and then went through multiple phases and nearing the try line, but after a Legion 5-meter scrum, the Seawolves scrummaging forced a penalty by San Diego and escaped the pressure.
The Seawolves attacked from a lineout and Riekert Hattingh reached over the line and Chris Turori reached a hand in to create a knock on. This resulted in a Legion 5-meter scrum. An early engage by the Seawolves allowed the Legion to clear.
The Seawolves attacked again from a lineout with Hattingh finding a gap. Shalom Suniula finished with a try and Smith converted to knot the score at 10 all.
For the first 25 minutes, the Legion-controlled 82% of the territory. The Legion all dominated in the lineout. Then the Seawolves on the strength of their dominant scrum changed the momentum of the match leveling the score at 10 all. The Seawolves got to within 5-meters of the line twice without scoring, while the Legion did once. The Seawolves line speed also played havoc on the Legion attack during the final 15 minutes of play.
Early in the match, Joe Pietersen was a force for the Legion. with his visa problems resolved, he is a welcome addition to the team. The Legion also needed to make two key substitutions during the half as Tony Lamborn and Anthony Salaber were replaced by Alec Barton and Dylan Audsley, respectively.
The Seawolves Riekert Hattingh also had two near tries and another break in the last 15 minutes before the break.
The Legion placed the Seawolves under pressure to begin the second half after a tackle by Nathan Sylvia on the restart. Smith cleared by the Legion were able to attack from a lineout inside Seawolves territory. The Legion could not take advantage and the Seawolves ensuing attack was turned over at the Legion 22-meters.
The Legion executed a kick and chase with Ngwenya claiming the high ball at the Seawolves 22-meters. The Legion’s Cam Dolan was held up in-goal after a Seawolves 5-meter scrum. The Legion then collapsed their 5-meter scrum allowing the Seawolves to clear.
Nate Augspurger found a gap and offloaded to Dylan Audsley, who went into contact. A Tadhg Leader offload to Drew Gaffney then resulted in a try. Pietersen then converted to reclaim the lead 17-10.
The Legion turnover the ball after a Seawolves lineout and Shalom Suniula grounded the ball in the left corner. After a TMO, Alec Barton was issued a yellow card. That came before an obstruction by the Seawolves. Seattle then elected a 5-meter scrum with Audsley moving into flanker on the play. William Rasileka cut inside for the try. Smith then converted to level the match at 17 all.
Seattle gained their first lead of the match as Peter Tiberio intercepted a Dylan Audsley pass and ran 60-meters for a try. Smith slotted the conversion for a 24-17 Seawolves lead.
On the restart, Duechle was hit in the air and pulled to the ground by Siaosi Mahoni, who was issued a yellow card. This gives the Seawolves an advantage with the Legion being down two men to the bin. The Seawolves could not take the early advantage as Chris Turori stole the ball at the breakdown. A break by Augspurger was for naught as the Legion was penalized for not releasing.
From a Legion scrum, the Seawolves took control and Sequoyah Burke-Combs went in for a try in the right corner. Peter Smith slotted the conversion making it a two converted try match at 31-17. After the kick, one Legion yellow card expired.
With five minutes remaining in the match, the Legion will need to score tries quickly. The Legion attacked deep into Seawolves territory, but a Ben Cima crosskick went directly into touch. With a little over 2 minutes in the match, both teams were at full strength. The Seawolves attacked from a scrum and cleared the ball deep. The Legion returned and the Seawolves advanced the ball 80-meters with John Hayden grounding the ball for a try. Smith then converted pushing the lead to 38-17.
A Pietersen kick through had Augspurger gather the ball and race in for a try. Pietersen then slotted the kick for a final score of 38-24.
With the win, the Seattle Seawolves advance to the Major League Rugby Championship in San Diego next Saturday. Riekert Hattingh was named the Man of the Match.
The Legion began the second half with a try to reclaim the lead, but after that discipline and handling errors proved to be a major factor in the match. The Seawolves took advantage of the Legion being down 2 men late in the match and broke open an otherwise close match.
Seattle Seawolves & San Diego Legion Squads
Seattle Seawolves: 1 Olive Kilifi 2 Ray Barkwill 3 Tim Metcher 4 Taylor Krumrei 5 Cam Polson 6 Eric Duechle 7 Vili Toluta’u 8 Riekert Hattingh (VC) 9 Phil Mack 10 Peter Smith 11 Peter Tiberio 12 Shalom Suniula (C) 13 William Rasileka 14 Brock Staller 15 Mat Turner 16 Mike Sheperd 17 John Hayden 18 Kellen Gordon 19 Cole van Harn 20 Aladdin Schirmer 21 Andre Coquillard 22 Jeremy Misailegalu 23 Sequoyah Burke-Combs
San Diego Legion: 1 Sione Tu’ihalamaka 2 Pat Blair 3 Nathan Sylvia 4 Chris Turori 5 Cam Dolan 6 Devin Short 7 Tony Lamborn 8 Drew Gaffney 9 Nick Boyer, 10 Tadhg Leader (C) 11Nater Augspurger 12 Anthony Salaber 13 Ryan Matyas 14 Taku Ngwenya (VC) 15 Joe Pietersen 16 Pat O’Toole 17 Faka’osi Pifeleti 18 Aaron Mitchell 19 Siaosi Mahoni 20 Alec Barton 21 Ben Cima 22 Nick Evans 23 Dylan Audsley + Head Coach Rob Hoadley
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 (W 41-32) Preview Root Sports NW
- May 27 vs NOLA Gold (W 55-26) Preview Cox/AT&T SportsNet
- June 2 at Houston SaberCats (W 20-7) Preview CBSSN (Game of the Week)
- June 8 at Austin Elite (W 20-19) Preview CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
- June 16 at Glendale Raptors (L 33-11) Preview 6:00 pm Network: AT&T SportsNet
- June 30 MLR Semi-Finals at Glendale vs San Diego Legion (W 38-24) Preview CBSSN
- July 7 MLR Championship at San Diego 7-9:45 pm PDT CBSSN
San Diego Legion Pre-season Record (1-1)
San Diego Legion 2018 Major League Rugby Schedule
- April 22 at Seattle Seawolves (L 39-23) Preview Cox/AT&T
- April 29 vs. Utah Warriors (W 31-24) Preview Cox/AT&T
- May 4 vs. Houston SaberCats (W 35-32) Preview CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
- May 13 at Glendale Raptors (L 31-27) Preview Cox/AT&T
- May 26 at Austin Elite (L 31-5) Preview CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
- June 9 at New Orleans Gold (W 39-22) Preview Network: COX
- June 17 vs. Austin Elite (W 31-17) Preview 5 pm PDT Network: Cox/AT&T
- June 23 vs. Glendale Raptors (W 23-5) Preview CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
- June 30 MLR Semi-Finals at Glendale vs Seattle Seawolves (L 38-24) Preview CBSSN