The Glendale Raptors host the Seattle Seawolves on Saturday, May 18 at 4 pm local (6 pm ET) at Infinity Park at Glendale. It is their final home match of the season. Tickets are available for the match and it will be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network.
Both teams are fighting for a playoff spot with the Raptors in 6th place with a 7-4-2 record and 42 points. The Seawolves record is 9-4 and they are in 4th place with 46 points.
Glendale will conclude the regular season away against the Toronto Arrows on May 26 and away against Houston on May 29. Seattle is at home for their final two matches against Utah on May 26 and Austin Elite Rugby on June 2.
The playoff race has been tight all season with six teams still in contention. San Diego Legion currently tops of MLR standings with 52 points with two matches remaining, NOLA Gold follows with 51 points, but has three matches left, Toronto is in 3rd place with 48 points and has two matches, Rugby United New York is in 5th place with 44 points and hs three matches remaining.
Glendale Raptors Head Coach David Williams has made two changes in his starters in the front row with Zach Fenoglio at hooker and Kelepi Fifita at prop.
Seattle Seawolves Head Coach Richie Walker has made one change in his starters with George Barton replacing Roland Suniula at outside center. Canadian internationals Jeff Hassler and Jake Ilnicki will make their debut with the team as reserves.
In terms of statistics, the Glendale Raptors are the second-ranked attack team in the MLR. They maintain 55% of possession, 54% of the territory and spent 44 of the 80 minutes on the attack. This compares to the Seawolves 48%, 51%, and 38.7 minutes, respectively. The Seawolves have the edge on defense and are have the 4th ranked defense compared with the Raptors, who are 6th.
Glendale has scored 55 tries, with the Seawolves scoring 48. Seattle has the edge in penalty goals with 22 compared to the Raptors 10. The Seawolves has taken points from penalties when presented while Glendale will often kick for territory to score tries from close range. Seattle has an edge in set pieces, particularly in the scrums, winning their ball 96% of the time compared with the Raptors 89%. The Seawolves have a slight edge winning their lineouts 85-81%. The Raptors also average 1.5 penalties more per match with scrum infractions a key difference.
The teams met in week one of the season in a battle between last year finalists. Seattle claimed a narrow 20-18 win and with the playoffs at stake, it should be a thrilling and close match. The Raptors have only lost one match at home this season, while the Seawolves have lost 3 on the road.
Key players in the match for Glendale are the leading MLR try scorer in John Ryberg (12), Luke White and Dylan Taikoto-Simpson are other players that lead the team in ball carrying meters.
Seattle has the leading points scorer in Brock Staller with 163. He is a very accurate kicker and is the third leading try scorer on the team with 5. Mat Turner, whose sevens skills are apparent from fullback, has 6 tries along with forwards leader Riekert Hattingh. Shalom Suniula, like Shaun Davies for the Raptors, is a crafty field general. Ben Cima’s boot often makes a difference in the territory battle.
Neither team can afford a loss and both will be looking to for bonus points, as well.
Squads with Player Article Links
Glendale Raptors: 1 Noah Barker 2 Zach Fenoglio 3 Kelepi Fifita 4 Brendan Daly 5 Luke White 6 Malon Al-Jiboori 7 Peter Dahl 8 Murphy Taramai 9 Shaun Davies 10 Ata Malifa 11 Harley Davidson 12 Robbie Petzer 13 Chad London14 John Ryberg 15 Dylan Taikato-Simpson 16 Chad Gough 17 Max Lum 18 Blake Rogers 19 Kody O’Neil 20 William Munro 21 Connor Cook 22 Will Magie 23 Mika Kruse + Head Coach David Williams
Seattle Seawolves: 1 Djustice Sears-Duru 2 Stephan Coetzee 3 Tim Metcher 4 Apisai Naikatini 5 Jérémy Lenaerts 6 Brad Tucker 7 Nakai Penny 8 Riekert Hattingh 9 JP Smith10 Ben Cima 11 Sequoyah Burke-Combs 12 Shalom Suniula 13 George Barton 14 Brock Staller 15 Mat Turner 16 Dan Trierweiler 17 Kellen Gordon 18 Jake Ilnicki 19 Samu Manoa 20 Eric Duechle 21 Phil Mack 22 Jeff Hassler 23 Dion Crowder + Head Coach Richie Walker