San Diego Legion Surge Past Seattle Seawolves Fast Start for Opening Win

The San Diego Legion defeated the Seattle Seawolves 33-24 on Sunday, February 9 in a re-match of the 2019 Major League Rugby final. Both teams begin the 2020 regular season being picked to face each other in the Western Conference final this year. The match was broadcast on CBSSN.

Match Recap

Prior to the start of the match, Paul Mullen replaced Aaron Mitchell as the tighthead starter. Mitchell then replaced new signing Jamie Dever in the roster at #18.

Following a lineout steal, the Seawolves went through a few phases before a penalty advantage had Brock Staller kicking at goal. The ball sailed wide of the right posts in the third minute. Two minutes later a no release penalty had Staller slotting the kick for a 3-0 lead.

San Diego Legion attacked within the Seawolves 22-meters after a strong run by Nate Augspurger before a knock on soon after resulted in a Seawolves scrum. The Seawolves then cleared after a scrum infraction.

Seattle attacked from a lineout with Nakai Penny taking a flat ball from Vili Toluta’u for a long run with Riekert Hattingh taking a pass from JP Smith from the breakdown for a try. Staller added the conversion for a 10-0 lead.

The ensuing restart resulted in a Seattle scrum. JP Smith moved the ball forward to turn the ball over to San Diego. The Legion scored after a lineout with Dean Muir scoring from a maul to cut the lead to 10-5 as Luke Barton’s conversion attempt was wide right.

A Legion kick-chase had them going through phases with JP du Plessis finishing after an Augspurger offload. Burton then slotted the extras to take their first lead in the 23rd minute, 12-10.

San Diego countered after a Seawolves kick did not find touch. A Luke Burton kick had Vili Toluta’u going into touch. The Legion attack from a lineout, but a knock-on gave Seattle the ball inside their 22-meters. A kick ahead gave the Legion a lineout, but a steal had the Seawolves kicking for territory.

A Seattle kick went directly into touch and the Legion attacked from a lineout just outside the Seawolves 22-meters. Several phases later, a Na’a Nonu grub went past the dead ball line as Mat Turner defended. The Seawolves gathered the 22-meter drop, but a knock-on gave the legion as scrum at the Seawolves 10-meter line.

The Seawolves were penalized for a scrum infraction and mauled after a lineout inside the Seawolves 22-meters. The ball went wide right to Save Totovosau and was intercepted by Ross Neal. Seattle was penalized and mauled from a lineout 5-meters out with Dean Muir grounding and Burton adding the conversion to extend the lead to 19-10 just prior to the break.

Second Half

San Diego continued their momentum from the first half with Ma’a Nonu sending a long pin-point pass to Save Totovosau, who raced down the wide right channel for a try. Luke Buton’s kick pushed the lead to 26-10.

Seattle attacked back with Shalom Suniula sending a wide pass to Brock Staller and offloaded to Mat Turner, who was driven into touch.

San Diego went through multiple phases before a high tackle resulted in a 5-meter lineout. The Legion was penalized as they mauled and Scott Dean cleared for Seattle to midfield. Lou Stanfill stole a lineout ball intended for Bard Tucker. A Nonu offload to Dylan Audley and inside to Jasa Veremalua resulted in a try with Burton slotting again to lead 33-10 in the 55th minute.

A shoulder charge by Lou Stanfill had Dean kicking to touch for a lineout. Vili Toluta’u, who switched to hooker, threw in the ball. An infraction by Peter Malcolm led to another lineout with Toluta’u scoring from a maul and Scott Dean adding the extras to cut the lead to 33-17.

The Legion tried to exploit the Seawall with a grub kick that was fielded inside the Seawolves David Busby inside 5-meters. The Seawolves could clear after Psalm Wooching was pinged for diving on. From the breakdown, Turner stepped and Busby kicked ahead. The Seawolves attacked from two lineouts, the last 5-meters from in-goal. The Legion defense was strong with Lou Stanfill driving Vili Tolutaa’u into touch.

A Legion turnover then gave the Seawolves a scrum within 7 meters from in-goal. After several phases, JP Smith popped an offload to George Barton, who powered in for a try. Peter Malcolm was sent to the bin for a chop tackle before Scott Dean slotted the conversion, cutting the lead to 33-24 in the 67th minute.

Both teams traded attacks with Vili Toluta’iu sent to the bin for leading with an elbow in the breakdown.

The Seawolves reached to within 4 meters of in-goal before a penalty thwarted a late attack. Neither team added to the scoring with San Diego claiming an opening home win, 33-24.

San Diego Legion will host the Colorado Raptors next Sunday, while the Seattle Seawolves travel that same day to face OLD Glory DC in their home opener.

Squads with Player Article Links & Match Preview

San Diego Legion: 1 Faka’osi Pifeleti 2 Dean Muir 3 Paul Mullen 4 Siaosi Mahoni 5 Josh Furno 6 Jasa Veremalua 7 Psalm Wooching 8 Tevita Tameilau 9 Nate Augspurger (C) 10 Luke Burton 11 Dylan Audsley 12 Ma’a Nonu 13  JP Du Plessis 14 Save Totovosau 15 Mike Te’o 16 Peter Malcolm 17 Nathan Sylvia 18 Aaron Mitchell 19 Lou Stanfill 20 Malon Al-Jiboori 21 Devin Short 22 Devereaux Ferris 23 Tira Patterson

Seattle Seawolves: 1 Djustice Sears-Duru 2 Mike Shepherd 3 Tim Metcher 4 Brad Tucker 5 FP Pelser 6 Vili Toluta’u 7 Nakai Penny 8 Riekert HattinghJP Smith 10 Scott Dean 11 David Busby 12 Shalom Suniula 13 Ross Neal 14 Brock Staller15 Mat Turner 16 Kellen Gordon 17 Jake Ilnicki 18 Jeremy Lenaerts 19 Eric Duechle 20  Jope Motokana 21George Barton 22  Sitiveni Tamaivena 23 Suliasi Tamaivena

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