The Seattle Seawolves looked for their second straight win when they host the Utah Warriors on Saturday, March 7 at Starfire Sports Complex. The match was a thrilling one with the Utah Warriors not to elect to kick for a potential draw and emerging with a 33-31 win in the 90th minute.
Utah improved to 2-2-1 in the Western Conference and are in second place in the Western Conference with 12 points. The Seattle Seawolves fell to 1-4 and are in fourth place with 8 points.
The Utah Warriors will have their home opener on Friday at Zions Bank Stadium against NOLA Gold, while the Seattle Seawolves make their second East Coast trip to New York to face Rugby United New York in their home opener on Sunday at MCU Park.
Seattle Seawolves vs Utah Warriors Match Recap
The Seattle Seawolves opened the match with a sustained drive. They mauled and Utah was penalized. A second lineout had Mike Shepherd scoring after a breakdown with Ben Cima slotting the conversion, 7-0.
The ensuing restart had the Seawolves knocking-on the ball inside their 22-meters. Utah attacked from a scrum and Gannon Moore was dragged into touch. That resulted in a penalty for not releasing Moore when he was tackled. The Warriors mauled from a lineout and Josh Whippy knocked-on the ball as he attempted to ground the ball in the right corner. A scrum penalty then allowed the Seawolves to clear.
The Utah Warriors continued to push the tempo of the match and following a lineout, Veremalua Vugakoto scored from the maul. Robbie Povey then slotted the kick to level the match at 7 all.
The Utah Warriors went through multiple phases and attacked inside the Seawolves 22-meters. The Seawall bent but held and a Warriors penalty allowed the team to clear. The Warriors counterattacked, but an interception by Peter Tiberio relieved the pressure.
A penalty led to a brief Warriors attack, but intercept by Riekert Hattingh turned the ball over. The Seawolves continued an attack but turned the ball over just before in-goal allowing the Warriors to clear.
A Jurie Van Vuuren obstruction had Cima kicking to touch. A maul and then phases, resulted in a Riekert Hattingh try with Cima adding the extras to lead 14-7.
In the 32nd minute, a scrum penalty had Seattle kicking for territory instead of for points, but a cross-kick by Cima went directly into touch and resulted in a Warriors’ lineout.
Both teams had their attacking moments in the closing minutes, but neither team added points before the break.
The Utah Warriors struck first in the half after a sustained attack after a lineout in their half. Tyler Fisher scored and Robbie Povey slotted the ball to level the match at 14 all.
Utah cleared after the restart and Seattle attacked from a lineout at the Utah 22-meters and the ball was turned over to the Warriors as they gathered the loose ball. The Seawolves countered after a Utah box kick and a penalty resulted in a Seattle lineout 10-meters from in-goal with Stephan Coetzee scoring after peeling from a maul in the right corner. Cima then slotted the difficult kick, 21-14.
An overthrown ball from a lineout at midfield resulted in a Seawolves attack, but a knock-on gave the ball back to Utah for a scrum. A Seawolves penalty for playing the ball while on the ground resulted in a Warriors’ lineout outside the Seawolves 22-meters. Utah drove and Seattle pulled down the maul and was penalized. The Warriors opted to kick to touch and then mauled with Kalolo Tuiloma scoring a try. Povey added the conversion to knot the match at 21 all.
Seattle added a bonus point try by Riekert Hattingh in the 59th minute after a lineout. Cima continued to be perfect with his boot on the day to lead 28-21.
Utah went through multiple phases before a penalty inside the Seawolves 22-meters had Seattle clearing. Soon after, a knock-0n gave Utah a scrum near midfield. Utah had the Seawolves on the back foot and earned a penalty and kicked for territory. The lineout was not straight and Seattle elected a scrum. Smith box kicked, but Utah could not take advantage of their counterattack.
Utah exhibited patience in maintaining possession during another sustained attack. Following a Seawolves penalty, the team attacked from a lineout. A few phases later, Stephan Coetzee was sent to the bin with Vilu Toluta’u moving to hooker. The Seawolves were pinged for intentionally collapsing the scrum, which resulted in a penalty try in the 77th minute to level the match at 28 all and giving Utah a bonus point.
The Seawolves attacked from the restart and an offsides advantage had Brock Staller slotting a penalty goal in the 80th minute to lead 31-28.
The referee indicated that time had not expired and a Seawolves penalty shortly after had Utah electing not to go for a draw as they kicked to touch. The Warriors moved inches from in-goal, but the team elected a 5-meter scrum following another Seattle penalty. Utah went to the blindside and swung the ball to the left and recovered a Seattle grub outside the Seawolves 22-meters.
Seattle was penalized for a non-release penalty and Utah attacked from a lineout. The Seawolves kept up their defense, however, another Seawolves penalty resulted in a Utah 5-meter scrum with Coetzee returning from the bin. Both teams maintained their commitment in the contact area, and after several forward attacks, moved the ball wide left with Michael Baska scoring the winning try in the left corner in the 90th minute. This was the longest match in MLR history and with his winning try, earned Baska Man of the Match honors.
The Utah Warriors played their best match of the season in maintaining possession and having patience in their attack. It was a physical battle all night between both teams and the Seattle Seawolves must feel that they were snake bitten in suffering another close loss.
Seattle Seawolves & Utah Warriors Squads + Match Preview
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