The Seattle Seawolves hosted the Glendale Raptors on Sunday, January 27 in a rematch of the 2018 Major league Rugby Championship. A late kick by Brock Staller reclaimed the lead with the Seawolves holding on for a 20-18 win.
Prior to the match at Starfire Stadium, the Seattle Seawolves were presented with their MLR Championship rings. The team also announced a head coaching change earlier in the week as former USA Women’s Sevens Coach Richie Walker took over the coaching reigns for the Seawolves. Visa issues again proved to be a problem for the team is securing their original head coaches in 2018 and again in 2019. Walker is an accomplished coach, who has coached Atavus Rugby, OMBAC, and the San Diego Aztecs.
Seattle Seawolves vs Glendale Raptors Match Recap
The Seattle Seawolves have a packed house at the sold-out Starfire Stadium to watch their team face the Glendale Raptors. They also saw the Seawolves get their championship rings prior to the match. Seattle had in their squad 10 of the 15 players who started in the final.
The Seawolves had the first scoring opportunity in the 6th minute, but Brock Staller’s penalty kick was on target, but short, allowing Will Magie to clear to midfield. The Seawolves were faced with a similar kicking opportunity but elected to kick to touch. The lineout, however, was stolen by the Raptors and attacked upfield.
Early on the Seawolves were strong at the breakdown and effective in the lineout.
The Raptors had a sustained attack inside the Seawolves 22-meters, but the Seawall defense was up to the task. After a penalty, Glendale opted to take a kick, Will Magie slotting the kick for a 3-0 lead.
The restart was then muffed by Mat Turner, leading to a Raptors scrum. Glendale went through multiple phases before a turnover allowed Turner to clear deep into Raptors territory.
Glendale had a sustained attack with a strong Blake Rogers run into contact. Mika Kruse sliced to within 6 meters of the line but lost the ball forward into contact.
Seattle took advantage of a Raptors turnover and Riekert Hattingh powered his way downfield. The ball went wide to William Rasileka and then to Peter Tiberio. Brendan Daly then was penalized for being offsides, which allowed Brock Staller to level the match at 3 all.
The teams then went into a kicking duel with Seattle’s Mat Turner spotting a gap and racing deep into Raptors territory. The Raptors defended well for a few minutes, but Tim Metcher powered over for a try. Staller then converted for a 10-3 lead.
Glendale nearly answered back but elected to kick for touch instead of taking a penalty kick. That move did not yield results as the throw bounced off Germishuys hands and the loose ball was scooped by Vili Toluta’u. A second lineout went to the Raptors and again was tapped by O’Neil into Seawolves hands.
The Raptors had one more sustained attack prior to the break with Luke White attacking through the middle opening up a Raptors attack. A Seawolves penalty led to Will Magie slotting the kick to cut the lead to 10-6 at halftime.
Commentary comments regarding adjustments needed were Glendale needing more forward attacks through the middle to free up their wide attack, while Seattle requiring patience in developing more of an attacking pattern.
The Glendale Raptors struck first in the second half with a Luke White peel from a 15-meter lineout and a Blake Rogers offload to Dylan Taikato-Simpson for a try near the right corner. Magie then slotted the conversion to take a 13-10 lead.
From the ensuing restart, Hanco Germishuys was not tackled into contact and he maneuvered through the forwards and raced 60-meters. The ball was swung wide left with Connor Cook offloading to John Ryberg for a try, pushing the lead to 18-10. Magie’s kick was wide right.
Glendale claimed the restart, but a tip pass was missed, allowing Brad Tucker to kick forward. After the chase, Glendale had a 5-meter scrum to defend. This allowed Magie to clear to midfield and Mat Turner attempted a drop goal that fell just under the bar.
The drop goal was like a free attempt as Glendale’s 22-drop went to midfield. The Seawolves placed the Raptors under pressure advancing deep into Raptors territory before a knock on resulted in a 5-meter Glendale scrum. Seattle received a Davies box kick, but an errant pass had Kruse picking up the loose ball and going into contact. Davies then recognized that the wing had vacated his position and chipped ahead near the right corner. The Seawolves knock the ball on in the pursuit giving the Raptors a 5-meter scrum. The Raptors tried to punch in the ball, but a Brendan Daly knock-on gave the Seawolves a 5-meter scrum, with Cima then able to clear.
The Raptors had another sustained attack, however, a Davies offload to Kruse could not be picked up and resulted in a turnover. The Seawolves quickly swung the ball right with quick hands from Hattingh to Toluta’u to Staller, who ran down the wide channel and chipped the ball. Staller retrieved the ball from the bounce and went in for the try and then converted from touch to cut the lead to 18-17.
In the 74th minute, a penalty after a Glendale scrum led to what proved to be the winning kick by Staller for a 20-18 lead. Magie had a 55-meter attempt three minutes later, but the kick was short, allowing Cima to clear.
Glendale attacked again with a strong run by Robbie Petzer with Cook, Al-Jiboori, Fenoglio, and Munro going into contact. A Magie to Ryberg offload was lost on a crunching tackle by Toluta’u. The Seawolves maintained possession in the final minute before Shalom Suniula kicked to touch to claim a 20-18 win.
The Seawolves Man of the Match went to Brock Staller, Glendale’s went to Luke White.
Richie Walker, who just took over as the Seawolves Head Coach, claimed his first win.
Squads With Player Article Links (Match Preview)
Seattle Seawolves: 1 Olive Kilifi 2 Stephan Coetzee 3 Tim Metcher 4 Taylor Krumrei 5 Apisai Naikatini 6 Brad Tucker 7 Vili Toluta’u 8 Riekert Hattingh 9 Phil Mack 10 Ben Cima 11 Peter Tiberio 12 Shalom Suniula 13 William Rasileka 14 Brock Staller 15 Mat Turner 16 Mike Shepherd 17 Kellen Gordon 18 John Hayden 19 Jérémy Lenaerts 20 Eric Duechle 21 JP Smith 22 George Barton 23 Moses Lalasava
Glendale Raptors: 1 Blake Rogers 2 Chad Gough 3 Marco Fepulea’i 4 Kody O’Neil 5 Luke White 6 Brendan Daly 7 Hanco Germishuys 8 Connor Cook 9 Shaun Davies (C) 10 Will Magie 11 Harley Davidson 12 Chad London13 Mika Kruse 14 John Ryberg 15 Dylan Taikato-Simpson 16 Zach Fenoglio 17 Max Lum 18 Kelepi Fifita 19 William Munro 20 Malon Al-Jiboori 21 Carlo De Nysschen 22 Robbie Petzer 23 Nick Johnson
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.