The Seattle Seawolves will be looking for their second straight win when they host the Utah Warriors on Saturday, March 7 at Starfire Sports Complex. Kickoff is at 9 pm ET and will be streamed on ESPN+ and broadcast on KMYU and on Root Sports. International fans may view the match on Major League Rugby Facebook Live.
The match features the Western Conference #2 Utah Warriors with a 1-2-1 record facing the #3 Seattle Seawolves with a 1-3 record.
Seawolves Head Coach Kees Lensing has made four changes in the starters from last week’s win over the New England Free Jacks. Three of the changes are in the forwards with Mike Shepherd at hooker, FP Pelser at lock and Vili Toluta’u at blindside flanker. The lone back change is the return of Brock Staller at the wing.
There are three changes in the reserves with Jake Ilnicki, Ryno Ekstein, and Suli Tamaivena. The latter’s brother Sumi, was ruled out due to injury.
In the wild Western Conference, only the undefeated San Diego Legion has a cushion over other playoff contenders. All it will take is for a team to go on a winning streak to distance themselves from the others seeking the playoffs. Seattle currently sits in fourth place after last night’s Colorado Raptors win over the Toronto Arrows. A win would have the Seawolves moving into the second-place slot.
Last week saw break out performances from Nakai Penny, JP Smith, and from Ben Cima, who played in his first regular-season match in 2020.
The Utah Warriors Head Coach Chris Latham has made six changes since last week’s loss. John Cullen will captain the team at lock with Ara Elkington the openside flanker.
In the back, there is a new halfback combination with Michael Baska at scrum-half and Robbie moving from fullback to flyhalf. Tyler Fisher and Josh Whippy return at outside center and at wing, respectively. Pat Ravouvou will make his season debut at fullback.
The Utah Warriors have been an exciting team in 2020 with a team strength in their ability to counterattack, as they are excellent open-field runners. They are a physical team and will contest the breakdown.
With Hagen Schulte out, Robbie Povey will take over the kicking duties. The Canadian international should make the Seawolves pay if they create penalties inside their own half.
Utah will need to hold off the Seawolves scrum and attack from lineouts when the circumstances arise. The team will need to score tries, yet penalty goals still could be a factor if infractions occur inside Seawolves territory.
Seattle Seawolves & Utah Warriors Squads
Seattle Seawolves: 1 Djustice Sears-Duru 2 Mike Shepherd 3 Tim Metcher 4FP Pelser 5 Brad Tucker 6 Vili Toluta’u 7 Nakai Penny 8 Riekert Hattingh (C) 9 JP Smith 10 Ben Cima 11 Peter Tiberio 12 Shalom Suniula (VC) 13 David Busby14 Brock Staller15 Mat Turner 16 Stephan Coetzee 17 Kellen Gordon 18 Jake Ilnicki19 Jeremy Lenaerts 20 Eric Duechle 21 Ryno Eksteen 22 Joey Iosefo 23 Suliasi Tamaivena
Utah Warriors: 1 Franco Van Den Berg 2 Veremalua Vugakoto 3 Angus MacLellan 4 John Cullen (C) 5 Matt Jensen 6 Bailey Wilson 7 Ara Elkington 8 Jurie Van Vuuren 9 Michael Baska 10 Robbie Povey 11 Josh Whippy 12 Calvin Whiting13 Tyler Fisher 14 Gannon Moore 15 Pat Vetemo Ravouvou 16 Sama Malolo 17 Huluholo Mo’ungaloa 18 Kalolo Tuiloma 19 Saia Uhila 20 Viliami Puna Vuli 21 Dwayne Polataivao 22 Dominik Toluono 23 Jared Whippy
DJCoil Rugby articles by Doug Coil are also available on Facebook. Other Social Media sites to follow or subscribe include Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for interviews.