San Diego Legion defeated the Utah Warriors 21-10 at Torero Stadium on Sunday, February 17. With the win, the Legion’s record is 3-1, while the Warriors fall to 1-1.
San Diego Legion opened the season with a narrow lost to Rugby United New York and then followed with wins over the Seattle Seawolves and the Houston SaberCats. The Utah Warriors won against Austin Elite Rugby.
The match went back and forth with Utah advancing deep into Legion territory before a turnover allowed the Legion to clear.
The Legion scored first after having numbers right which resulted in a JP Duplessis try in the 18th minute. Joe Pietersen then slotted the kick for a 7-0 lead. Early turnovers stopped previous attacks by the Legion. The Utah defense was strong early, but often the team was flat on their attack. San Diego then extended their lead to 10-0 as Pietersen added a kick.
Utah attacked from the restart and advanced the ball inside the Legion 22-meters. They then turned the ball over after a maul. The Legion then won a scrum and cleared. Utah advanced the ball to the Legion 22-meters after several phases and after a penalty, Tim O’Malley slotted a kick to cut the lead to 10-3.
After Utah was pinged for not releasing in the breakdown, Pietersen slotted a kick into the wind to push the lead to 13-3.
Nate Augspurger then fielded the restart at his 22-meters then evaded defenders moving the ball to the Utah 40-meters. Moving the ball wide left from a scrum, the ball was turned over and a Utah player was taken into touch. This kept the Legion moving forward and again the Legion had numbers right with Pietersen offloading to Devin Short for a try in the right corner for an 18-3 lead. Pietersen’s kick was just wide right. Neither team could add points before the break.
A Legion penalty for a no-wrap tackle by Duplessis resulted in a kick for territory with Gaffney stealing a 5-meter lineout. After the clearance kick, Utah mauled from a lineout and Angus Maclellan grounded the ball for a try. O’Malley then slotted the kick to cut the lead to 18-10.
The restart went to Utah, but a lack of discipline resulted in the Warriors clearing to midfield for a lineout. The Legion used excellent line speed to contain the Warriors and a turnover. The Legion attacked from a scrum and moved the ball deep before a knock on. The scrum then went straight down and the Legion were penalized allowing Utah to clear.
After a turnover, the Legion attacked close to the line. Fets Vainikolo then intercepted the ball and raced downfield, but was tracked down by Devin Short with Ryan Matyas in support. Fets offloaded to Luciano to Whippy, with the ball knocked on. The Legion scrum then allowed the Legion to clear.
A kick for territory from Joe Pietersen bounced out about 10 meters from in-goal. Utah then cleared. A Legion scrum penalty then moved the team into Legion territory. Another penalty after the lineout had Utah kicking for territory and then mauling after the lineout. Wooching then turned over the ball.
The turnover gave the Legio some momentum and Pietersen chipped ahead and the ball was taken into touch. The Legion then attacked from a lineout 5-meters from in-goal. Credit the Warriors defense for thwarting the Legion attack and resulting in a Utah 5-meter scrum.
A Utah wheel then resulted in a penalty allowing Pietersen to slot the kick for a 21-10 lead. That may seal the match, as the Warriors would need to score two tries and a conversion to have a chance to win. A try, however, could gain the Warriors a losing bonus point.
A penalty allowed the Warriors to kick for territory and after a lineout, the Legion was penalized again. This gave the Warriors a chance to attack from a lineout 5-meters from in-goal. A knock on gave the Legion a scrum and they kicked into touch to claim a 21-10 victory.
The San Diego Legion move to 3-1, while the Utah Warriors lose their first match of the season. The Legion used excellent line speed to keep the Warriors from generating many line breaks. Penalties, however, gave the Warriors several scoring chances. A positive for the Warriors was the defense, especially close to in-goal.
The San Diego Legion are in second place with 13 points in the standings. The Utah Warriors are in seventh place with four points. The Legion has played four matches, while the Warriors have played two.
Devin Short was named Man of the Match for the Legion.
With Blake Burdette entry into the match, he became the oldest player to play in an MLR match at 39. He was signed after an injury necessitated having an additional hooker.
Squads , Player Article Links & Match Preview
San Diego Legion: 1 Nathan Sylvia 2 Deon Muir 3 Paddy Ryan (VC) 4 Lou Stanfill 5 Keni Nasoqeqe 6 Chris Turori 7 Devin Short 8 Drew Gaffney 9 Nick Boyer 10 Joe Pietersen (C) 11 Nate Augspurger 12 JP du Plessis 13 Dylan Audsley 14 Ryan Matyas 15 Mike Te’o 16 Kapeli Pifeleti 17 Faka’osi Pifeleti 18 Aaron Mitchell 19 Siaosi Mahoni 20 Psalm Wooching 21 Tai Enosa 22 Kyle Rogers 23 Save Totovosau + Head Coach Rob Hoadley
Utah Warriors: 1 Franco Van den Berg 2 Logan Daniels 3 Angus Maclellan 4 Matt Jensen 5 Saia Uhila 6 Lance Williams 7 Ara Elkington 8 John Cullen (VC) 9 Ian Luciano 10 Josh Reeves 11 Fetu’u Vanikolo 12 Tim O’Malley (C) 13 Jeremy Misailegalu 14 Tonata Lauti 15 Josh Whippy 16 Blake Burdette 17 Huluhola Moungaloa 18 Jackson Kaka19 Maikeli Mudu Naromaitoga 20 Alex Tucci 21 Gannon Moore 22 Josh Anderson 23 Joseph Nicholls + Head Coach Alf Daniels