The San Diego Legion face Austin Elite Rugby on Sunday, April 7 at Torero Stadium in San Diego. Kickoff is at 7:30 pm PT (10:30 pm ET) and tickets are still available. The match is the CBS Sports Network Game of the Week.
San Diego is in 5th place with a 5-1-2 record with 26 points, while Austin Elite Rugby is seeking their first win (0-9) while losing in the closing moments three times. Austin Elite Rugby has been a much-improved team and can not be taken lightly.
San Diego Legion Head Coach Rob Hoadley has made two changes in his starters as Devin Short returns at flanker with Jasa Vermalua shifting to lock in place of Keni Nasoqeqe, who is unavailable due to a red card the previous week. Save Totovosau also returns at wing after an absence of several weeks.
Austin Elite Rugby Head Coach Alain Hyardet has made three changes in his starters with Kyle Breytenbach rotating back into the starters and Rikus Zwart to the reserves at flanker. Marcelo Torrealba returns at scrumhalf and Doug Fraser makes his first start at outside center.
In the reserves, Zinzan Elan-Puttick returns after an injury and Maikeli Mudu Naromaitoga joins the team on loan from the Utah Warriors for the rest of the season. He plays both back row and lock.
The San Diego Legion is the leading defensive team in the league and rank 6th in offense. The team scoring tries comes from quick strikes and from lineouts in close. Austin Elite Rugby is an improved team over the last several weeks and can contest in the lineouts, but sometimes are placed under pressure in the scrums. Early scrum penalties last week were minimized by the second half.
Austin Elite will need to maintain possession, kick for territory to make scoring easier from close range, and vary their attack to create linebreaks. They also need to maintain discipline when tackling and control being offsides. Pietersen is the most accurate kicker in the league and will punish errors.
San Diego also needs to maintain discipline. They won last week despite a red card and two yellows. They played excellent defense, but these errors create scoring opportunities for their opponent. The Legion also needs to go through phases in their attack.
Squads with Player Article Links
San Diego Legion: 1 Faka’osi Pifeleti 2 Deon Muir 3 Paddy Ryan (VC) 4 Lou Stanfill 5 Jasa Veremalua 6 Psalm Wooching 7 Devin Short 8 Jordan Manihera 9 Nate Augspurger 10 Joe Pietersen (C) 11 Ryan Matyas 12 JP du Plessis 13 Dylan Audsley 14 Save Totovosau 15 Mike Te’o16 Kapeli Pifeleti 17 Nathan Sylvia 18 Aaron Mitchell 19 Siaosi Mahoni 20 Drew Gaffney 21 Nick Boyer 22 Tai Enosa 23 Kyle Rogers + Head Coach Rob Hoadley
Austin Elite Rugby: 1 LaRome White 2 Tiaan Erasmus 3 Juan Echeverria 4 Ben Mitchell (C) 5 Josh Larsen (VC) 6 Kyle Breytenbach 7 Moe Abdelmonem 8 Travis Larsen 9 Mickaël Romera10 Rodrigo Sliva 11 Sione Fangaiuiha 12 Andres Vilaseca 13 Doug Fraser 14 Aidan McMullan 15 Soheyl Jaoudat 16 Dominique Bailey 17 Chris Schade 18 Brendan Rams 19 Maikeli Mudu Naromaitoga 20 Rikus Zwart 21 Mickaël Romera 22 Zinzan Elan-Puttick 23 Reece Czarnecki + Head Coach Alain Hyardet