Austin Elite Rugby has started the 2019 MLR season going 0-5 at home after a 45-17 loss to the San Diego Legion at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas on Friday, February 22.
Austin Elite Rugby has had opportunities to win and will hope that going on the road to face the Glendale Raptors on March 9 will make a difference. With the win, the San Diego Legion is now 4-1 and is in first place with 18 points. The Legion will also have a bye week before hosting the Toronto Arrows on March 10.
It didn’t take long for the San Diego Legion to strike as JP Du Plessis scored a try after a scrum advantage penalty and Joe Pietersen slotted the kick for a 7-0 lead. Austin Elite Rugby answered right back with a Mickael Romera kick to cut the lead to 7-3.
The Legion then added a try by Dean Muir from a maul and another by Devin Short in the right corner. Pietersen slotted both kicks for a 21-3 lead.
The Legion almost had another with Ryan Matyas executing a chip and chase, but the referee could not confirm that he touched down in the right corner and awarded a Legion 5-meter scrum. The Legion could not take advantage of this attack and unfortunately for Austin Elite, Tiaan Erasmus was carted off the pitch with an injury.
it was then Austin Elite Rugby’s turn to attack from a 5-meter lineout. The pass by Romera was intercepted by Nate Augspurger for an easy try with Pietersen then converting to push the lead to 28-3.
Austin Elite attacked again with Ben Mitchell scoring a try and Romera slotting the kick to cut the lead to 28-10 at the break.
The Legion pushed the lead to 35-10 after a try by Fakaosi Pifeleti from close range with Pietersen adding the conversion.
Many reserves had entered the match and Dylan Pieterse was sent to the bin shortly after he entered the match. Austin Elite scored short-handed with Josh Larsen offloading to Alex Faison-Donahoe and back to Larsen for the try to cut the lead to 35-17 after the conversion.
The Legion elected to take a shot at points after a penalty in the 69th minute with Dylan Audsley slotting the kick for a 38-17 lead. Nate Augspurger raced deep into SaberCats territory from the restart with Save Totovosau finishing with a try and Audsley converting to push the lead to 45-17.
In the 75th minute, with the match well in hand, the Legion opted to have Audsley attempt a penalty kick from about a meter to midfield. The kick was short and neither team would score again.
With the 45-17 win, the Legion moved into first place with 18 points, with NOLA Gold still having a game in hand with 17. Both teams enter a bye week with Austin Elite traveling to face the Glendale Raptors on March 9 and the Legion hosting the Toronto Arrows on March 10.
Man of the Match honors was not announced, but Nate Augspurger gets my support for that honor fo the Legion and Ben Mitchell for Austin Elite Rugby.
Squads with Player Article Links & Match Preview
Austin Elite Rugby: 1 Simon Courcoul 2 Tiaan Erasmus 3 Juan Echeverria 4 Ben Mitchell (C) 5 Josh Larsen 6 Dominique Bailey 7 Rikus Zwart 8 Kyle Breytenbach 9 Mickaël Romera 10 Timothée Guillimin 11 Soheyl Jaoudat 12 Andres Vilaseca 13 Sione Fangaiuiha 14 Ratu Peni Tagive 15 Zinzan Elan-Puttick (VC) 16 Peter Malcolm 17 Chris Schade 18 LaRome White19 Dylan Pieterse 20 Marcelo Torrealba 21 Alex Faison Donahoe 22 Andrew Suniula 23 Reece Czarnecki + Head Coach Alain Hyardet
San Diego Legion: 1 Nathan Sylvia 2 Deon Muir 3 Paddy Ryan (VC) 4 Lou Stanfill 5 Keni Nasoqeqe 6 Psalm Wooching 7 Devin Short 8 Drew Gaffney 9 Nate Augspurger 10 Joe Pietersen (C) 11 Ryan Matyas 12 JP du Plessis 13 Dylan Audsley 14 Jasa Veremalua 15 Kyle Rogers 16 Sione Tu’ihalamaka 17 Faka’osi Pifeleti 18 Aaron Mitchell 19 Siaosi Mahoni 20 Alec Barton 21 Tai Enosa 22 Save Totovosau 23 Nick Lupian + Head Coach Rob Hoadley